In the retail industry, everything must be carefully planned and organized in order to ensure that a business can maintain or improve the stability of its cash flow. Moreover, ever since e-commerce became a mainstream option amongst many buyers nowadays, retailers must incorporate new and additional techniques that can keep their competitive foothold in the world of business intact. This can range from digital marketing strategies, improving the skills of the employees in providing efficient customer service, and even in the ways of how the products are placed on the shelves. Yes, you heard it right – displaying your retail products can have a significant impact on your customers. It can subconsciously influence them in deciding whether to buy your products or not. Such methods of optimizing the number of sales are through what business experts call “Visual Merchandising.”
History of Visual Merchandising
In the early times when humans learned to trade through barter, a large variety of goods became widely accessible in the market which eventually leads to the development of money as the primary medium of exchange. Due to this plethora of goods, competition became so fierce that merchants learned how to strategically arrange their products in a way to invite potential customers. For example, merchants would pile up their fruits by placing the ripest fruits up top or putting the biggest fish that they caught upfront.
Fast forward to the 1800s, stores around the world were viewed by the public as disorganized and cluttered factory outlets. This is because the 1800s also turned out to be the era of the Industrial Revolution, where manual manufacturing of products declined and gave rise to the integration of machines in larger-scale factories. Many factory owners would reserve a certain area of their facility to sell most of their excess and sometimes even defective stock. While it can be considered as one of the earliest merchandises, such products are often exhibited in public in an undesirable manner. Fortunately, with the large-scale manufacturing of glass and iron, fittings and skylights in stores were invented finally giving that appealing appearance that most modern stores still have today.
After a century, stores that offer retailed products gained some popularity. They started to utilize sophisticated methods that can further expand the purpose of visual merchandising. Retailers began to showcase their merchandise with decorations and ornaments that can aid in catching the attention of every people that pass by. Hence, the concept of visual merchandising was born.
In modern times, visual merchandising became much more scientific and is now widely used as an instrument for both attracting customers and augmenting sales.
How Visual Merchandising Affects Business?
Visual merchandising can be applied in many ways. Remember that people would most likely enter and purchase products on a store with an aesthetically pleasing appearance. Which means aside from the displayed items, the scope of visual merchandising can extend from specific aspects like decorations found in the store, its window displays, light, fixtures, as well as other elements that occupy a visual space throughout the area.
Here are some of the factors that greatly influence a retail store through visual merchandising:
- Signage – The signage of a store can serve as a secondary salesperson by guiding the customers through their intended destination. Additionally, signages help the retailer’s employees to save time in dealing with multiple numbers of customers at the same time. Having well-created signage can easily turn the people’s attention towards a specific store.
- Music – This may sound a bit cliché, but many retailers fail to understand the essence of playing music in order to make the customers feel more welcomed inside the store. Several studies suggested that music affects the brain by altering the brainwaves so that it can resonate in time with the rhythm. In other words, music can have a mild hypnotic or meditative effect on a person’s mind. It can be pretty useful in the context of retail business as many stores can use music to their advantage by playing upbeat tunes that might brighten up the mood of their customers and make them more likely to initiate transactions to the counter.
- Window Display – The store window is one of the ideal areas to exhibit a store’s newest and best-selling items. Creating a reputable brand image is another task that a retailer must do when setting up a window display. A beautiful display window portraying a particular theme or story can increase the number of store visits in no time.
- Color – As far as visual is concerned, color definitely plays a vital role. A suitable color for a store can attract attention and urge potential customers to quickly enter the store. Some colors are known to signify a meaning based on cultural standards. But as a rule of thumb, colors that tend to excel in the outside part of most retail stores are red and orange because they possess an exclusive hue that can easily catch the eye. On the other hand, colors such as blue and green can promote feelings of calmness which makes them highly fit to be applied in the store’s interiors.
- Lights – Arguably the most crucial factor in visual merchandising, lights can be compared to a double-edged sword. It can either provide the store a remarkable advantage or ruin the retailer’s visual merchandise strategies. Such negative effect might happen once the light is incorrectly installed, regardless of how unique and expensive it can be. Maintaining the exact balance of lights and shadows in your store can mean a lot because a little miscalculation of both could result in decreasing the visibility of the products (especially its details) and the color that makes it noticeable.
- Fixture and fittings – The fixture and fittings that retailers typically hang or position in the opposite ends of their stores are equally important as well. Even a slight miscalculation in the position can create a bad effect on the sales for every square foot. That’s why it is a challenge for retailers to fill their stores with accurate fixture and fittings positionings so that they can help positively in generating sales.
- Product arrangement – Organizing the products based on specific criteria does not only aid in creating a systematic and organized environment, but it can also opt the customers to become more engaged in spending more time inside the store
Taking heed of the factors mentioned above is the initial step towards understanding and applying the concept of visual merchandising.
Optimizing Retail Experience Through Visual Merchandising
When trying to improve your customer’s retail experience via visual merchandising it is VERY IMPORTANT for you to always keep in mind that TARGET CUSTOMERS MUST ALWAYS BE THE MAIN PRIORITY. The opinions and preferences of all the people are highly subjective, which means that no store is universally considered to be beautiful or attractive. Thus, it would be better to focus your attention on meeting the preferences of your target customers when trying to create a compelling visual merchandising and product displays.
Aside from making your target customers the basis for your visual merchandising strategies, below are other surefire ways of optimizing retail experience through display merchandising:
1. Give your merchandise a story to tell.
To make your store display a highly interactive one, try sticking to a specific story or theme as you do the design process. You can either focus first on a particular display area or spread it throughout the entirety of your retail space. In case you’ve chosen the former, it is highly recommended that you begin showcasing your theme from the storefront window or anywhere within the proximity of the entrance.
2. Place your best products in the window display.
Compared to other areas of your store, the window display is definitely the most eye-catching one. Since it’s strategically located in a place where it is completely exposed to the attention of the people outside, placing your new and prized products in the window display can make a huge difference. As the saying goes, “first impression lasts.” You must also never forget to regularly clean your display windows as no matter how beautiful or attractive your products can be, most people don’t prefer entering a store that looks dirty and neglected.
3. Figure out when to change displays
Be sure to equip yourself with adequate knowledge on how to select the best products to be displayed. You can refer to your weekly records and see how your recently presented products affect the way you earn sales.
4. Avoid overloading your displays
Placing a plethora of items on your display can bring detrimental effects in the entirety of your visual merchandise. An overwhelming number of products piled in utter disarray is an easy way of giving your customers and fellow competitors the impression that you’re an unprofessional and inexperienced retailer. Do not let your products form a clutter in displays and pay attention to your display’s focal point. That focal point is the best spot for highlighting a single item with a small set of other related items to produce a consistent story or theme.
5. Upgrade shelf labeling through ESLs
In case your store is still using the traditional price tags, you should consider replacing them with ESLs (Electronic Shelf Labels) pretty soon. The online market is now on the rise and many large retailers are now adopting modern techniques and tools to keep their operations on par with the changes in the digital age. Utilizing ESLs is a great way to retain business competitiveness by modernizing your product pricing needs. These smart tags are equipped with wireless technology that enables it to accurately change the price and information it displays at any given moment. This can help strengthen your customers’ retention to a product as they can learn more information about its specifications on the label. And unlike paper shelf labels, ESLs possess advanced features that prevents it from getting worn out, lost, or misplaced.
ESL as a Visual Merchandising Tool
Incorporating the use of ESL for your business gives a new kind of interactive experience for your customers. Attaching them on your products makes it easier for you to update your customers about sudden changes in the information and avoid human errors in pricing, significantly improving their retail experience in the long run. Moreover, since interactivity also plays a key factor in visual merchandising, ESLs are expected to become one of the major business trends in near future.
If you are interested to learn more about SoluM ESL Solutions and how we can help your retail business take advantage of wireless connectivity to improve your retail experience and operational efficiency, visit our website today at www.solumesl.com