Despite more people seemingly making the transition to online shopping — including Marks & Spencer and House of Fraser — there is still opportunity for retail stores to maximise their sales revenue.
Visual merchandising has been around for decades, in all industries. 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.
Why the Retail Sector Needs Visual Merchandising
The formula of VM includes rearranging an entire shop floor — including shelves and product displays — to provide a more engaging, exciting and ultimately profitable consumer experience.
But there is more than just aesthetics when it comes to redecorating your shop interior. 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 Bob Phipps, chief executive officer of 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.”
So, how do maximise the potential of visual merchandising at your retail store and avoid falling into the difficulties that the likes of Toys R Us and Maplin have suffered?
Highlight the Wants, Not the Needs
By 2020, global retail sales are anticipated to hit USD 27.73 trillion, so there’s clearly scope for your brand to maximise its profits and get a share of this growth in the next few years.
Place you newest, most high-end products in your focal visual merchandising displays to attract the customer looking for a treat purchase and enhance your chances of high-cost conversion.
You could also use outdoor signs alongside these displays to present promotional offers for luxury items that you want the consumer to take notice of — and buy!
Placing the right products with each other is key to a successful visual merchandising sre. 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 incorporate 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. Equally effective is the ‘Pyramid Principle’ method when grouping products for 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.
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.
Another tip for creating an idyllic shopping experience for your visiting customers is to deliver the perfect 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, acclimates them to the store’s surroundings and get them ready for the shopping experience.
People are more likely to buy when they’re in a positive mood. 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.
- 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.
- Based at shop entry with a full view of store.
A staggering 98% of people apparently turn right when they first enter a store. 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.
Targeting All the Senses
Utilise the other senses not just visually. 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?
Smells also trigger certain memories or emotions. If you run a bakery and want to evoke a feeling of warmth, coziness 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 chamomile scents, which are more relaxing.
Frequency and Rotation
Keep it fresh and rotate your stock around often. 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, promotions and seasonal goods only last so long — don’t give people the impression that your brand is behind the times or lazy.
According to predictions, shopping is expected to transform, leaning more towards ‘the experience’ rather 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?