Many believe that the death of the high street is upon us, with the likes of House of Fraser closing their doors, but there’s an opportunity for retail businesses to maximise sales — they just need to know how.
For retailers, visual merchandising has played a significant role in selling products. 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.
As we come to the end of 2018, businesses must be prepared for what the new year holds. We’ve created a step-by-step guide that looks at the design and launch stages of an eye-catching visual merchandising strategy in a bid to boost your brand’s profit margin!
Why visuals are needed in retail
There’s not a dull moment when it comes to developing a visual merchandise strategy as this includes all areas of a store — from shelves and window display for example. A great design can lead to a better customer experience.
However, it’s more than just placing products where they fit. 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.
“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”, was one comment from Bob Phibbs, CEO of The Retail Doctor consultancy firm in New York.
What do your customers want
Believe it or not, retail sales across the world are expected to hit US$ 27.73 trillion highlighting the many opportunities for retailers to capitalise on this growth.
Know what products will entice your customers to make a purchase. 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.
There are a few tactics that you should take advantage of, for example, placing your newest products in central positions. 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!
Shoppers love competitions — and this could be great for when you launch a new product. Order a personalised selfie frame with your brand logo and product logo on and ask shoppers to share their picture online for a chance to win!
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.
When it comes to positioning, remember the Pyramid Principle or the Rule of Three to generate the best results. 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.
Top retail merchandiser who has worked across a lot of projects, Jessica Clarke commented: “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.
If you want your customers to enjoy time in your store, you must provide a 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.
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.
Believe it or not, 98% of shoppers turn right once they have entered a store. 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.
Don’t ignore the senses
We’ve tackled visuals, but you must look at the other four senses too. 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?
It’s no secret that a particular smell can allow shoppers to remember a specific memory or feeling. 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 camomile scents, which are more relaxing.
To create a fresh experience for your customers, you should regularly change your store floor. 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).
Change your visual merchandising displays every month and retain the perception of innovation.
Many believe that people now prefer the experience over the products. 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?