Although the likes of Marks & Spencer and House of Fraser have fell on tough times, there’s still plenty opportunity for retail stores to maximise their sales revenue.
For many years, visual merchandising has been a major selling process. 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.
This guide, provided by postcard printing specialists, Where the Trade Buys, is your step-be-step visual merchandising guide to designing and launching a successful visual merchandising strategy in a bid to enhance your brand’s profit margin and help you sail through the tough times ahead for the industry…
Why visual merchandising is important for the retail sector
The visual merchandising process requires strategically designing an entire shop floor’s layout. This includes the shelves and product displays in order to provide a more engaging, exciting and ultimately profitable consumer experience. But there’s more to visual merchandising than just putting products in a certain place because they look nice. 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.
Chief executive officer, Bob Phibbs, who runs The Retail Doctor retail consultancy firm in New York comments: “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.”
So, in what ways can you maximise the potential of visual merchandising at your retail store and make sure you don’t fall into the same difficulties that stores such as Toys R Us and Maplin have suffered?
Highlight the wants, not the needs
Global retail sales are anticipated to hit USD 27.73 trillion by 2020. That shows there’s clearly scope for your brand to maximise its profits and get a share of this growth in the next few years. The first step to achieving effective visual merchandising is what 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.
Place 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.
The way you decide to group products is crucial to how your visual marketing strategy fares. 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.
The ‘Pyramid Principle’ or ‘Rule of Three’ methods are something you should also bare in mind 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.
Retail merchandiser and stylist, Jessica Clarke, 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.
Creating a ‘decompression zone’
If you want to create an idyllic shopping experience for your customers, you should deliver the perfect 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.
After all, the experience is key. 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 take a right turn when they enter 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.
Target all five senses
Yes, this guide focuses on visual merchandising, but that doesn’t mean you should to ignore your 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?
An array of scents can help consumers identify and recall certain memories or emotions. 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.
Frequency and rotation
Just because you feel as though you have the shop floor in a way you like it, you shouldn’t let it forever stay that way. 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).
Liekwise, seasonal goods or promotions can only last for a certain amount of time. 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.
It’s predicted that the experience of shopping is expected to transform. 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?