The concept of displaying goods up for sale is as ancient as the history of trade itself. In the early 20th century, it was taken to a completely new level when a New York luxury department store, Bonwit Teller, added the element of art to it. Renowned artists hired by Bonwit Teller as their window display designers, including Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol, James Rosenquist, etc., can be called the forefathers of modern-day visual merchandising.
Visual merchandising is a broad term that collectively refers to the marketing and merchandise management practices employed by retailers to display their products in an aesthetic and visually appealing way. The main aim is to communicate the features and benefits of the products or services to the customers creatively to boost sales. Window installations, in-store displays, racks, and end caps, mannequins, eloquent signage, point-of-purchase displays, etc., are some examples where visual merchandising is at play.
Creative window displays engage onlookers and motivate them to enter the store. Once they are inside the store, eye-catching color combinations, appropriate lighting, melodious music, pleasant scents, attractive interior designs, easy-to-navigate store layouts, and floor plans, together create a delightful and customer-friendly environment. They encourage customers to spend more time in the store, thus exposing them to maximum merchandise and increasing purchase probability.
Though traditionally more prevalent in brick and mortar stores, visual merchandising is equally applicable to eCommerce. Presenting shoppers with relevant and personalized products in an intriguing manner at the right time enhances digital traffic generation. A stimulating homepage and strategically designed site layout help maintain customer interest, while an effortless shopping experience can be created through navigation optimization. Product recommendations prompt customers to buy additional items, while an overall impressive brand experience ensures revisits.
A human brain is wired to respond to stimulating visuals and striking illustrations. Visual merchandising helps draw customer attention and prompts the customers to envision how the products will look on their persona or in their homes. It helps convert spectators into buyers. In other words, visual merchandising is an art of optimizing retail or digital space, leading to increased revenue. It proliferates brand visibility, narrates the brand’s story captivatingly, and eventually reinforces brand loyalty.
Visual merchandising paints a picture of the brand in the minds of customers. It helps narrate the brand’s tale visually. Customers can identify a brand from a single glance because of the way its storefront, floor layout, or merchandise look. Be it a particular combination of colors and lighting or signature signage, staff uniform or the brand’s unique packaging; all these elements work together to construct the brand’s image. They help it stand out among the competitors and leave a long-lasting impression.
The first impression is the last impression. An inviting storefront or an arresting window display determines if a passerby would enter the store. If a brand’s facade is powerful enough to entice customers, it will draw them inside, thus increasing foot traffic. Of course, a brand needs to follow through with its first impression, which can be achieved by creating effective floor plans, persuasive in-store displays, and innovative signage. A stellar visual merchandising tactic will positively influence a customer’s purchase decision.
Visual merchandising or creative demonstration of products provides instant information about a brand or a store to potential customers. It allows a brand to reach out to them and communicate the value of its goods and services. Even the expensive or low-demand items, which are difficult to sell, can be effectively advertised with clever visual merchandising. It gets the customers to notice the business and directs them to the highlighted products. Moreover, visual merchandising also allows for advertising related products or brands and even their respective digital selling platforms within brick and mortar stores.
Expressive window displays, informative in-store signage, easy-to-navigate floor plans, pleasant and well-lit ambiance, well-arranged shelves, and a roomy layout create a comfortable shopping space for customers. Playing appropriate music and adding stimulating scents to the ambiance improves their mood and offers them an unforgettable multisensory shopping experience. Striking visual components build a brand’s image, while engaging customers on an emotional level makes them feel relaxed and happy. This translates into returning customers and repeat purchases.
Essential to creating brand awareness and boosting sales, visual merchandising is a constantly evolving process. It needs to be updated and refreshed now and then, based on various aspects, such as customer requirements, current and upcoming trends, seasonal festivals and holidays, and so on. This calls for a lot of market research, strategic planning, and decision-making. This is where a visual merchandiser steps in. Successful and effective visual merchandising and merchandise management is a brainchild of a proficient and expert visual merchandiser.
The chief aim of visual merchandising is to educate customers about a brand’s products in an entertaining way. Various factors, which determine effective visual merchandising, include interior and exterior displays, store layout, point-of-purchase displays, bundled products, assortment displays, styled mannequins, bright and neutral lighting, soothing scents, and encouraging ambiance. Whether a brand is selling apparels, home decor, food, electronics, toys, hardware, or anything else, a professional visual merchandiser can be the key to rapid business growth.
A visual merchandiser is the brain behind the creative visual concepts and aesthetically-appealing store displays. Through innovation and artisanship, a visual merchandiser bridges the gap between the brand’s goals and the desires of its potential customers. They devise plans for effective visual merchandising and collaborate with floor workers and managers to execute them. A visual merchandiser makes executive decisions. They range from selecting products for window displays, choosing appropriate color themes and scents, playing customer-friendly music, and placing mannequins to bundling products.
Professional visual merchandisers help create effective store designs, deliver powerful visual concepts to establish brand image and promote retail brands, and give a competitive edge to visual merchandising endeavors. Based on their assessment of a store’s space, store or company culture, merchandise, target customers, and current trends, visual merchandisers make recommendations for a compelling representation of any brand through best practices for increased sales and repeat business.
A visual merchandiser is responsible for conceptualizing, designing, and implementing a powerful visual merchandising strategy that works. They are the ones to thank for the arresting visual displays that attract the eyes of the onlookers, lure them in, lead them through the entire store, provide them with an excellent and unforgettable in-store experience, and convert them into actual shoppers. The goal of a visual merchandiser is to communicate the key message innovatively and maximize profitability.
Visual merchandising is not a one-time job; it requires constant monitoring and revisions. A visual merchandiser is responsible for periodic modifications and adjustments to maintain the novelty and sustain the interest based on consumer response and revenue feedback. For example, an apparel fashion house will want their mannequins to be styled differently every day in order to expose their customers to various attires or maximum outfit combinations. The visual merchandiser will have to make these decisions based on local demographics, lifestyle, and design trends.
Liaising with suppliers and sourcing the props and materials required for visual merchandising while remaining within the defined budget is equally important as creating an enticing display. Apart from this, a proficient visual merchandiser is also capable of analyzing the sales reports and survey results and planning the future visual merchandising strategies accordingly. A keen eye for design, and an optimal combination of art, merchandise management tactics, and practical market statistics allow the visual merchandiser to convey the correct message and promote the brand effectively.
A talented visual merchandiser conducts thorough market research to understand current industry trends and incorporates the company’s vision into its marketing strategies and design concepts. Furthermore, they are responsible for collaborating with marketing teams for planning seasonal product launches and promotional events, as well as for maintaining the brand’s social media presence. For example, during festivals like Diwali and Christmas, a visual merchandiser will design the store’s outlook in such a way that customers feel festive as soon as they enter the store.
A visual merchandiser uses his/her artistic and imaginative skills along with the knowledge of market trends to design and build eye-catching visual displays for retails. Employing their expertise in visual design, space utilization, and merchandise management, they strive to augment the aesthetic appeal of window and in-store displays, counters, and walkways, in order to draw and hold the interest of customers and increase sales. Retail is all about detail, and an adept visual merchandiser adds an aesthetic element to it. Reach out to the experts at Fashinza for help with sourcing and manufacturing fabrics, textiles, or anything to do with building a fashion business. Fashinza helps simplify the process of sourcing fabrics and clothing so designers can focus on the bigger picture of building their brand and business.