Unfortunately for some high street stores, operating in the retail industry is testing. But with the right approach, retail chains can weather the storm. One such approach that can help boost sales and bring in customers is all about visual merchandising. Visuals are key to catching the eye of a potential customer and coaxing them to enter the store!
Where The Trade Buys, service providers of postcard printing, have put together this handy guide to tell you more:
Why do we use visuals?
Understanding visual merchandising is crucial to a successful marketing strategy. The process of visual merchandising 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. 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.
When asked about visual merchandising, chief executive officer at The Retail Doctor, Bob Phibbs said: “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.”
A successful visual merchandising strategy could help you avoid a similar path as that suffered by Maplin and Toys R Us?
Go for what your customer wants, not needs
Retail sales certainly aren’t slowing. In fact, global retail sales are predicted to hit USD 27.73 trillion by 2020. So 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.
When it comes to enticing customers, you should be displaying your luxury items. 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!
Bring your products together in a group
One tactic is to put your products together in a group. This can affect the effectiveness of visual merchandising. 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.
Are you well-informed about the ‘Pyramid Principle’ and the ‘Rule of Three’? 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.
Be clever with colour
When talking about using colour in visual merchandising, Jessica Clarke, who is a stylist and retail merchandiser, 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.
Take note of the decompression zone
Do you know what your decompression zone is? It’s an 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.
It’s all about experience in this zone. 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.
You can target customers by the journey they take around the store too. Did you know that 98% of people turn right after entering 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.
Consider all of the senses
Despite our focus on visuals today, it’s important to at least consider 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?
Carrying out marketing tactics that appeal to the smell can trigger particular memories and feelings. 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.
Keep your strategy fresh
It’s important that your visual merchandising is keeping with the times. 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). Similarly, 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.
Of course, our shopping habits are always changing. Retail experts predict that shopping is forecast to change towards more towards an experience. 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?