Despite a number of major retail chains struggling in today’s market, there are still opportunities for stores to enhance their sales revenue. Visual merchandising has been a major selling process for many years. However, the problems dominating retail in 2018 make executing a successful visual merchandising strategy especially important if you want your retail brand to survive and prosper.
To help, we’ve provided this visual merchandising guide for retail brands in 2018 alongside outdoor signs specialists, Where The Trade Buys. It is your step-by-step guide to designing and launching a successful visual merchandising strategy to boost your brand’s profit margin and help you sail through the tough times ahead for the industry…
Why visual merchandising is important for the retail sector
A great visual merchandising strategy involves designing the layout of an entire shop floor and providing an exciting and engaging consumer experience. But there’s more to visual merchandising than just putting products in a certain place because they look nice. There’s a science behind why certain presentations, structures and even colours deliver a better experience than alternative arrangements, and it’s been established that a strong visual display can raise turnover and strengthen your brand; even inspiring customer loyalty in the process.
According to chief executive officer, Bob Phibbs, who runs The Retail Doctor retail consultancy firm in New York: “Visual merchandising is everything a shopper sees at your store that hopefully leads to a remarkable shopping experience. It is the unspoken language retailers use to communicate with their customers.”
Image Source: Pixabay
So, how can your retail store maximise the potential of visual merchandising?
Highlight the wants, not the needs
It’s expected that by 2020, global retail sales will hit USD 27.73 trillion. Therefore, there’s clearly scope for your brand to maximise its profits and get a share of this growth in the next few years.
The first step to achieving effective visual merchandising is what products you will use to attract consumers. A tip here is to go for what you think your customer wants — not needs. According to a study by Raj Raghunathan and Szu-Chi Huang, emotional responses are influential in our purchasing choices — which is why you should focus on giving the customer something to desire.
If you place the newest and high-end products in your consumers line of vision, you’ll enhance your chances of high-cost conversions. You could also use banners alongside these displays to present promotional offers for luxury items that you want the consumer to take notice of — and buy!
The way you group your products is vital to your levels of success. A recent report found that exposing your shopper to the maximum number of products is a tactical method when carrying out visual merchandising. However, don’t make your displays look crowded. Utilise different display furniture, such as mannequins, racks and shelves — whichever suits the product you’re merchandising — and bear in mind that focal points boost sales by a reported 229%, so ensure that you effectively direct your consumers when they enter your store.
You should also think about incorporating the ‘Pyramid Principle’ or ‘Rule of Three’ method when you group products in a display. The Pyramid Principle dictates that you create a triangular display, with the biggest item in the middle and the smallest on the outside — which ensures that your display doesn’t look flat and boring. Instead, it will catch the eye, as the products seem to ‘fall’ down towards the viewer. Equally effective is the Rule of Three. Within this, you create attractive asymmetry that shoppers will find engaging. Apparently, humans see asymmetry as normal — which means they pay less attention. By placing product in groups of three, you can create a noticeable imbalance that forces the eye to take in each product individually, as opposed to the display in its entirety — excellent for effectively advertising each item.
According to Jessica Clarke, a retail merchandiser and stylist: “Things that are easy to look at will be passed over, and things that are too outlandish will be offensive to the eye.” And this goes for colour. Contrasting colours at the opposite side of the colour wheel can help grab attention — think black and white or scarlet and jade — but creating a multi-coloured display of uncoordinated colours may turn people away.
Creating a ‘decompression zone’
Other ways to create an idyllic shopping experience for customers is to deliver a great decompression zone. This area of a shop is found just a few feet inside the main entrance and is believed by psychologists to elevate a shopper’s mood, acclimatise them to the store’s surroundings and get them ready for the shopping experience.
After all, nobody wants to browse or shop in a negative atmosphere. An effective decompression zone will help transport your consumer from the hustle and bustle of outside to a calmer, more focused environment that encourages browsing. Here are decompression zone tips:
- Minimum of 10-15 feet.
- Based at shop entry with a full view of store.
- Created using contrasting furnishings and colours from outside area to signal new atmosphere.
- Use mannequins, attractive stands and specialised lighting to highlight your newest ranges.
When entering a shop, 98% of us turn right. Why not use your decompression zone to create a ‘circulation route’ from the right side that leads around your store for a smoother customer journey? Or, try placing your best products at the right of your decompression zone, if this is the most likely route consumers take.
Target all five senses
While this is a guide regarding visual merchandising, it doesn’t mean you should ignore the other senses. Reportedly, 75% of emotions come from smell and our mood is meant to enhance 40% when we detect pleasant aromas. If you run a fragrance, soap or food retail establishment, are you harnessing the power of smell when it comes to merchandising?
It’s true that unique smells can help consumers identify and recall a specific emotion or memory. If you run a bakery and want to evoke a feeling of warmth, cosiness and home-cooking; ensure that your customers can distinctly smell your products baking from the kitchen by setting up the area to waft aromas into the main shop. Similarly, if your brand specialises in soaps and toiletries, place these strategically around your shop floor to avoid clashing aromas. For example, put all the citrus products together to evoke a sense of energy and rejuvenation and keep these far away from lavender and camomile scents, which are more relaxing.
Frequency and rotation
If you manage to set up your shop floor the way you want it, don’t just sit still. A major part of tactical visual merchandising is moving your presentations as new stock comes in. Don’t let customers get bored of visiting you — keep changing things up and you can make it look like you’re constantly replenishing your stock and bringing in new and wonderful items (even if you’re not).
Similarly, if you have promotions and seasonal goods on sale, remember they only last so long. You shouldn’t give people the impression that your brand is behind the times or lazy. Change your visual merchandising displays every month and retain the perception of innovation.
According to predictions, the shopping experience is going to take over, meaning that it’s more than simply buying. With visual merchandising, you can ensure that your shop offers something engaging to keep consumers interested — so why not start planning out your shop’s next visual merchandising campaign today?