Get your store’s visual merchandising right and your customers will have a positive response to your business that’s nearly visceral. Get it wrong and they may have a vague sense that something’s a bit “off” about your business. They may not return, or recommend it to their friends, even if they’re not entirely sure why.
What is Visual Merchandising?
Before we go much further, let’s give a second thought to something you may have been doing without giving it a second thought: what is visual merchandising? The NRF, or National Retail Federation, defines visual merchandising as “space plans, planograms and floor sets [designed] to positively improve item sales and/or customer experience.” However, they also acknowledge that the landscape of retail is changing. So what does that mean for your visual merchandising?
Improving Your Visual Merchandising
In brief, here are some steps you can take to improve your visual merchandising.
- Design for experiences, since customers aren’t just looking for products anymore.
- Encourage a sense of community by removing points of friction that discourage social media sharing and other forms of social proof and social signaling.
- Enable digital discovery, augmenting the retail experience through apps, coupon sharing and augmented reality through NFC, and tools that allow customers to find out more about your products via their smartphones.
- Encourage interactivity with displays to the extent possible.
- Merchandise in a way that draws the outside world in — give passers-by the incentive to stop in and they’ll give you the incentive to convert browsers to buyers.
- Guide your customers to the experiences and products you want to highlight rather than leaving discovery and buying decisions to chance.
- Look to outside help, since another set of eyes — or someone with more experience with shelving design — can help you maximize your space and your bottom line.
Visual Merchandising Benefits
So how can you benefit from better visual merchandising? Vary your displays, giving them themes that coincide with the seasons or with your sales goals. But don’t let displays stagnate. Change your visuals, your floor plan, and your planograms so that even your most dedicated repeat customers will always have something new to discover. Use color, texture, and even sound as part of your strategy and the public will quickly catch on to your brand and your values. Perhaps most importantly, don’t just throw a pile of merchandise onto a table or gondola. Curate! Your retail shelving and custom displays create a sense of experience over product, and that can be a decisive edge in today’s fiercely competitive retail environment.Every business has a story to tell, but not all of them tell it equally well. You can’t simply rely on one element — your product, or your passion — to carry the narrative. Even if your visual merchandising works on a subconscious level, it’s certainly no less important for that. The shelving design solutions offered by Shelving Design Systems can be a valuable narrative device in telling your retail “story,” so contact us for a shelving design consultation that pulls all the strands of your retail business together into a narrative that sells.