Some retail stores may be losing faith, especially in light of the difficulty that some stores, including Marks and Spencer and House of Fraser, are facing. But, there is still opportunity for retail stores to maximise their sales revenue.
One marketing strategy that has had success over many years is visual merchandising. 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.
Read on for the ultimate visual merchandising guide for retail brands, created by retailers of selfie frames, Where The Trade Buys:
Is visual merchandising necessary?
It’s important to understand the process of visual merchandising before you think about implementing it. It involves strategically designing the layout of an entire shop floor — including shelves and product displays — to provide a more engaging, exciting and ultimately profitable consumer experience.
It’s not as straight forwards as placing products where you want them to be seen. 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.
Bob Phibbs, chief executive officer at The Retail Doctor stated: “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.”
What should you be doing to maximise the potential of visual merchandising?
Emphasise the wants, not the needs
Statistics show that, 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.
First of all, you need to understand which 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.
Situate your 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 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!
How to approach group displays
The way that you group products is critical to the success or failure of your visual marketing strategy. 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.
Other things that you should consider include the ‘Pyramid Principle’ or ‘Rule of Three’ 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 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.
Looking at what Jessica Clarke, a retail merchandiser and stylist, said: “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.
Understanding a ‘decompression zone’
One thing you must consider is your 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.
The main thing to consider is the experience — who wants to browse and shop when they’re feeling negative or distracted? 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.
Did you know that 98% of people turn right after entering a shop? 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.
Appealing to all five senses
Consider all of the senses when you’re creating a successful visual merchandising strategy. Although this guide is about visual merchandising, that doesn’t mean you can afford to ignore the other four 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?
Certain 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 chamomile scents, which are more relaxing.
Refreshing your display
It’s important to keep refreshing your display so that it is still appealing. 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).
You should bear in mind that promotions and seasonal goods only last so long — don’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.
There are predictions that the 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?