Is the high street making way for digital shopping? That’s what some people believe — and considering a survey found that more consumers are contributing towards online retail sales, it seems that physical shops need to do more to weather the storm.
If a visual merchandising strategy is utilized effectively, you can be sure to stay ahead of your competitors. However, there’s a skill to doing this properly. To help, we’ve put together this step-by-step guide for tips and advice on executing a flawless visual merchandising strategy.
What is visual merchandising?
Visual merchandising is the act of creating a mood within a shop in order to boost a sale, by drawing customers’ attention to it. Overall, the aim is to boost sales and profits for the company, whilst giving the consumer a better in-store experience.
Australia saw its last ever Gap store close earlier this year due to poor sales, with other countries not far from experiencing the same fate. In order to avoid this, stores need to maximize the potential of visual merchandising.
1. Create a striking decompression area
These are the areas of a shop where you first walk in and are often used to lift a customer’s mood so there is more chance they will buy from you.
A successful decompression zone automatically transitions a customer from the busy high street to a calmer environment that encourages browsing — perfect! Remember, your decompression zone should be a minimum of 10-15 feet, built at the shop entrance with a view of the shop, and well-lit with furnishings that contrast it from the outside.
2. Group your stands and displays in the most aesthetic way
If there is a clash of products featured within close proximity, your visual merchandising strategy may fail. Showing off plenty of products is, of course, beneficial from your point of view as a vendor. But be careful not to make your displays look cluttered. Use a mix of mannequins, racks and shelves to neatly display items and remember — a focal point boosts sales by a reported 229%, so ensure that you effectively direct your consumers when they enter your store using printed banners and other promotional products to highlight a section.
If you’re struggling, read up on the ‘Pyramid Principle’ or ‘Rule of Three’ methods. The Pyramid Principle revolves around triangular displays, with the biggest item in the middle and the smallest on the outside. This formation is eye-catching to a passer-by, so is good for advertising. Then there’s the Rule of Three, where you create a display that focuses on ‘attractive asymmetry’. Shoppers typically engage well with this, as symmetry is ‘standard’ while asymmetry is ‘imbalanced’ and more interesting.
3. Choose the right colors
Visual merchandising is an important strategy and opting for a certain color could determine its success. If you use contrasting shades, like blue and yellow, you can easily catch the eye. However, be careful not to throw too many different shades in a single display — this looks messy and unprofessional.
4. Know what your customer wants
Global retail sales will reach USD 27.73 trillion by 2020 — make sure your brand is still a part of the sector. Before almost anything, you want to plan which products you want to promote. And we recommend going for what people want, not need. According to a study by Raj Raghunathan and Szu-Chi Huang, emotional responses are influential in our purchasing choices, so focus on items that will let customers treat themselves.
5. Cater for your customer’s senses
Although not linked to visual merchandising, make sure to not neglect the other senses. Reportedly, three-quarters of emotions come from smell. Plus, our mood apparently improves 40% when we identify nice smells. If you run a food, perfume or soap store, then use smell to sell merchandise!
Having a pleasant smell could encourage the senses and make a customer want to buy from you. For example if you run a bakery, letting the smell of food waft into the dining area can create a sense of warmth and coziness. Similarly, soaps placed strategically around the shop can be a good way to sell a product without the need of a promotional sign — just don’t let smells clash. Put all the citrus soaps together to evoke a sense of rejuvenation and keep these far from lavender scents, as these are relaxing.
6. Keep your layout fresh
Changing your shop floors style occasionally encourages loyal customers to not tire of your brand. By changing your main displays, you can give the impression that you’re consistently changing stock and moving with new trends — even if you aren’t. Consider amending your visual merchandising strategy every month to look as innovative as possible!