Good visual merchandising requires a perfect blend of art, inspiration
WHAT IS VISUAL MERCHANDISING?
Simply put, Visual merchandising is a term used in the retail sector that covers the design-approach to displaying and showcasing stock in an appealing way to
Visual merchandising is a technique in retail that is used to entice customers and stimulate purchases - and it is proven effective in increasing revenue.
A CASE STUDY:
EVERY INDEPENDENT RETAILER’S REVENUE DILEMMA?
- The Business: Scenic World, a popular tourist destination in Australia’s
BlueMountains, offers people an opportunity to shop at the retail gift store and buy souvenirs.
- The Challenge: While the business’s retail outlet was situated in an ideal area with good visitor numbers, the store was dated, and merchandise old and poorly
- The Solution: Visual merchandising. Scenic World engaged with a leading retail consulting firm, BOOM. Here is a look at some of the key changes that improved the visual appeal of the store and its merchandise.
- ENTRANCE & STORE OVERHAUL
The retailer was not making optimal use of its floor space.
Unfilled spaces at the entrance made the store look empty and unappealing to customers when they walked in, presenting a poor first impression.
Where the shop’s original design did not cater appealing placement of merchandise, new moveable display units were set up at the entrance – resulting in a visual focal point to attract and welcome people into the store.
Empty wall spaces were
capitalisedon by installing wall mountedhooks to hang and display clothing better. Improved floor planning and categorisationof products transformed open spaces in the middle of the shop into clearly defined zones where merchandise was easier to see and reach.
- SHELVING & AMBIENCE
Some of the outlet’s original shelf fittings and rails looked utilitarian and uninviting. New shelving was designed, to ensure the arrangement of merchandise would create a warm and appealing look for shoppers.
The store’s ceiling boards were removed to open up the height of the shop, exposing stainless steel- ducts and lighting panels and a darker ceiling.
Old white-wall and oak-panel walls were replaced by darker wall treatments to allow merchandise to ‘pop’ and become the focus of attention.
- PRODUCT GROUPINGS & SPECIAL ZONES
Both the visual rejuvenation of the shop and changes to the way the merchandise was displayed made a significant impact.
Previously, some products were dumped in ‘bargain bins’, invisible to shoppers unless they had walked directly up the look inside the containers.
The store’s designers decided that to
maximiserevenue, displaying more items was necessary. Products were grouped, sorted and bundled with special offers, such as buy 2 get 1 free.
SO, DOES VISUAL MERCHANDISING REALLY WORK?
Yes, it does. In the financial year following the visual merchandising makeover of Scenic World, the
- Sales rose by 143%
- Units-sold increased by 123%
Overallmargin grew by 161%.
The year after that, figures continued to rise too:
- Sales grew a further 28% year-on-year
- Units-sold rose by 21% year-on-year
- And margin increased by 27%
5 TIPS TO IMPROVE VISUAL MERCHANDISING
Retail consultant, author and CEO of The Retail Doctor, Bob Phibbs believes that independent retailers needn’t have to worry about breaking the bank to make their store’s more appealing and attractive to customers. He offers the five following points that you can try in your shop today:
- START AT THE DOOR
Hiding away the good stuff? Take advantage of visual merchandising possibilities closest to the front door and put your newest and most expensive items in the spotlight.
“Be sure to have several levels of height and enough products so that the customer can pick up and touch without having to totally dismantle your display,” Phibbs advises.
- SHOW OFF ‘WANTS’, NOT ‘NEEDS’
You’re making a mistake if you’re promoting the things that people already come in to buy.
“Don’t choose to highlight products the customer already needs. Those are what they are coming in for anyway. A customer responds to things they want,” says Phibbs.
So, what’s the lesson? Don’t prominently display or merchandise a cheap hand-mixer, for instance, when a fancy (premium brand,
bettermargin for you) hand-mixer is what consumers desire. “Just because they need a mixer, doesn’t mean they won’t treat themselves to the expensive model if it is displayed well,” he adds.
- CREATE CLEARLY DEFINED AREAS
Phibbs says that even in today’s highly-competitive industry, too many stores offer too few visual cues to customers. “Why do would you allow shoppers to wander aimlessly until they find something they want or have to ask someone where it is?” he says.
Clear store signage and modern store design
isessential, Phibbs says,because it’s important to make customers feel smart: “Help them with clearly defined areas and good signage.”
Whether you sell outdoor equipment, sports goods, technology or groceries, ensure enough space is given to merchandise displays so that shoppers can easily see items and feel free to explore the store. According to the expert, well-defined areas encourage consumers to explore new things.
- GROUP ITEMS TOGETHER WHERE YOU CAN
Holidays and seasons only last so long and promotional goods have a short shelf life. Phibbs advises: “Feature new arrivals first.” This means if you have ordered merchandise that’s meant to go together, keep it together.
“You don’t want
firstappearance to be diluted. Later, the few items that may be left can be grouped with new arrivals to give them a new look,” he explains. “Look at it this way: If you ordered red Valentine candles from one vendor, mugs from another, and gifts from another, wait for them all to arrive.” Don’t put the candles out first as a sole item and lose the overall impact.
- ROTATE, ROTATE, ROTATE
Phibbs says one of the key deterrents of revenue growth in retail is if customers keep seeing the same thing in your window and promotional spaces for long periods of time. But how long is long?
“Move existing displays around the sales floor when new merchandise comes in. Since the fairly new products will still be selling, switch your displays two weeks after their arrival. Move one from the front to the middle of the store and the other from the middle to the back,” he says.
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