If you’ve ever stopped at a store retail display and found yourself curious about a product that wasn’t even on your mental radar moments ago, the visual merchandising team in that store has done its job.
Every day, millions of people in retail environments find their interest piqued, their attention steered, and their senses stimulated by visual merchandising strategies that influence how they navigate a store and even how much they buy.
Research shows that 65% of people consider themselves visual learners, and 90% of the information sent to the brain is visual. While a great product serving the needs of its audience is essential, how that product is presented on the retail floor matters, too. Let’s look at some of the ways you can use visual merchandising in your retail environment to influence shoppers and drive sales.
Use Color to Motivate
According to The Institute for Color Research, people make a subconscious judgment about a product within 90 seconds, and between 62% and 90% of that assessment relies on color alone. Good visual merchandisers are also excellent color psychologists. They understand that color can create an emotional impression and influence behavior—and they use this knowledge to their advantage.
Red and yellow, for example, motivate action and are known to spur sales. It’s the reason clearance signage is always red. If you want signs that capture attention and guide your eyes through the store, don’t be surprised to find yourself bouncing from one red display or sign to another.
That’s not to say other colors don’t have their place. Blues are associated with trust and dependability, and greens can be used to enhance an environmental or natural aesthetic. But let’s not forget green is also the color of money! White evokes calm. Be careful with purple, which some consider a mysterious but curiosity-arousing color as well.
Make sure your display colors don’t distract from your brand aesthetics, but play with different ideas, and don’t be afraid to ask yourself if color might be the reason why a display or section of merchandise isn’t seeing the sales you’d like.
Leverage the Power of Open Space When Needed
If you’ve ever been around good, collaborative creative teams, you might notice how much they respect one another’s role in the creative process. Just like good sports teams, they also know how to put the team goal ahead of the individual. Your merchandising display needs the same type of attention, especially when deciding how much or how little merchandise is really needed for a retail space.
The goal of some displays may be to show how much of something a store carries; for certain products, being called out as the leader in variety and selection may be completely appropriate. On the other hand, sometimes you also want to highlight one particular product or line. That’s when it’s time for other products to take a back seat so that your primary offering can enjoy the center stage. A perfume display, for example, needs to highlight certain scents or brands.
If you carry a product that truly shines in its category, clear out other items and give it the headliner treatment it deserves.
Pay Attention to Eye-Level Placement
With so much virtual and visual messaging in the world vying for everyone’s time, a visual merchandiser also knows how to focus your attention. In retail environments, when you look at a display, the eyes naturally drift to certain places.
The eye-level, or focal point, of a shelf, endcap, or display is your spot for a hot seller or sale item that may be the reason your customer came to the store in the first place. Once you’ve placed your focal point item, add complementary products around it. For example, if you’re showcasing a remote-control toy, add some batteries nearby or accessory pieces that go with the purchase.
Plan Your Layout as if You Were the Customer
To be a good visual merchandiser, you also need to understand your customer’s needs. Today, many retailers gather data from online sales and even merge it with POS history and other information to develop a persona of the type of individual who uses their products. You can never underestimate the value in this research.
There is, however, an entire art to understanding your customer’s physical journey inside your store. Once you understand why they come into your store, analyze traffic patterns and their journey while they’re inside your space. Take note of what your customers see and hear as they walk down high- and low-traffic zones.
You also want to take in information from your retail floor sales team to see what areas are becoming hotspots within the store and learn about traffic patterns they’re seeing. Use that to update your floor plan, product mix and displays to maximize sales and enhance the shopper experience.
Meet Your Customer at the Door
If your storefront allows for a dazzling window display, don’t let this important piece of real estate go to waste. It’s often a case of highlighting the right products, not all the products available. Some brands really know how to create scenes that illuminate the season, an experience, or other meaningful themes to draw people in. You can focus on a clearance sale, too, or a hot new product. Bold, simple messages and images can work as well.
If you’re going for a theme or are trying to highlight a particular product, experiment with different elevations. Place items on pedestals or showcase them on stands to separate them from other parts of the display for visual impact. If you don’t have a prominent window for a display, communicate with sidewalk and storefront signage.
Create a Great Checkout Experience
Whether you’re developing a colorful cash wrap or offering the perfect complementary product on a nearby rack of the point-of-purchase display, don’t overlook the chance to increase sales at checkout.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, many customers appreciate a quick, contactless check-out process, but most are still willing to consider the right add-ons or impulse items. You also want to make sure to rotate items near check-out, too. Your regular customers will appreciate always seeing something new.
Respect the Process
Coming up with the right visual merchandising strategies is a constant work in progress. What works for one product may not for another. Seasonality, economic factors and product trends can influence your merchandising choices as well.
As you try different ideas, solicit customer feedback, and let that information help guide you in setting up the retail environment that aligns with their needs. Remember, merchandising doesn’t need to strictly be an in-store affair. If you assemble a unique eye-catching display, don’t hesitate to share it on social media with your followers and brand ambassadors.