Display 101: A Guide to Visual Merchandising

(Part 2 of 2)

There are 5 Visual Merchandising Essentials to consider when merchandising and designing displays for your store:

  1. The Merchandise
  2. The Display Area
  3. Props & Display Tools
  4. Signs
  5. Lighting

All are important and should be given consideration. Here are some details to help your planning.

  1. The Merchandise
    • Right product for the right time: It’s important that you are showing products in your display that are relevant to your customers. Example: Bring seasonal products into your store 6 weeks before the season starts.
    • Too much product: This is a big concern I have for retailers. A lot of stores have too much stuff in them. Many times the wrong stuff, dated stuff. Lots to cover here for another time, another article.
    • Product that does not perform: Get rid of it. If it’s been in your store for more than a year and hasn’t done well, out it goes. Don’t get emotionally involved with your products, let them go.
    • Not the right mix of product: Know your customers; know what is relevant in their lives. Don’t know? Ask them. Do a survey in your store.
    • Products in displays are sales tools for your staff. Understand this and train your staff with the very best product knowledge on what you sell.
    • The product you sell determines the purpose and value of any display you do.
    • Display is very important to your brand – create a specific image, a look – this will help sell through.
    • End use displays: Your displays should suggest what the product or collection of products will look like when the consumer gets them home.
    • Look for your display inspiration to come from the products’ colors, shapes, sizes, symbols, slogans, and always ask “Is it relevant to the customers?”
    • Choose uneven numbers of merchandise to present in tight grouping. It’s a design thing.
  2. The Display Area
    • Windows are the eyes into your store. Plan to change your window displays every two weeks. It sends a message to customers that there is always something new going on in the store. And as you know NEW drives business. Also make sure your window displays reflect holidays, special events, and sales promos. You should have a separate display schedule for your window.
    • 5-7-9 Rule: Select 5 to 9 places in your store, including your windows, to set up special displays – for example, end use displays.
    • Consider the size of your display space. It has to fit into the floor plan. The rule here is aisles have to be 3′ minimum. You are now creating better traffic flow through your store.
    • Consider your customer’s eye level. The selling zone is from the customer’s eye to the knee. Customers very rarely look up and they most certainly do not buy from the floor.
    • Platforms: Yes, you should be using these. They give a feeling of presenting something very important. Like being on a stage.
    • Ceiling-mounted grids. You have to have them, both in your windows and throughout the store above each end use display. Why? So you can suspend things.
  3. Props & Display Tools
    • Props must help to create and reinforce the theme of a display. In today’s market your displays should self-prop, because you are using everything you SELL to tell a story.
    • Risers: I like acrylics because they blend into the background.
    • Furniture/ tables, chairs, etc… depending on your store mix you need these to help tell display stores. If you sell other types of products, contact me and I will share what you need specifically.
    • You need a focal point. This is always the largest mass in the display. It can be a sign, product, prop mannequin, furniture, etc. Focal points draw the eye into the display. Don’t be afraid of big or bright colors.
  4. Signs
    • In-store department signs: I’m big on this idea. You will influence a customer to move through you store if they are able to see a sign that suggests to them that you sell more than they see in front of them.
    • Signs create and reinforce the theme of a display. Try this one: Finish off your display by hanging a sign over the top – these further support the story of why you did the display in the first place.
    • Signs are silent salespersons: this works because signs can provide information on the merchandise and services.
    • Signs can be part of the creative display grouping if designed and placed thoughtfully. You may want to practice this one for a while. It takes skill to do it right.
  5. Lighting
    • Another key for you – my research shows that lighting is # 1 sales influencer. My many years of designing retail stores has taught me that retailers do not spend enough on lighting.
    • Do you have the right lighting on your display? You need bright white clean focal light on your displays.
    • Wall display lighting: Your walls need to be washed with light.
    • Window display lighting: Your window displays must have a designated light track washing the window area with light.
    • Each end use display must have a designated lighting source.
    • Lighting adds drama to your store and draws attention to your displays.
    • Lighting creates high and low light levels. You want this – I promise you.
    • Good lighting leads the consumer’s eye to the focal point areas in your store.

Read Part 1 of Display 101: A Guide to Visual Merchandising

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