Why Visual Merchandising?

Visual merchandising is a highly effective (and often underrated) way of getting customers into a store and spending money. Carol Bagaric offers some insightful tips…

Visual merchandising as a serious concept first started in the fashion and homewares industries but take away the glamour and the concept is the same for any retailer. This is because customers have several universal expectations when they shop a store. They want a hassle free and enjoyable experience; they want a clean and well merchandised store; they want visible signage that directs them to the products they wish to purchase; and they expect to find this product quickly and easily, with an accurate price.

What is visual merchandising?

Visual merchandising is a concept that works for retailers of any shape and size. The basic idea is that the retail space should be presented in the best possible way in order to maximise sales. However, good visual merchandising is more than just presenting a good looking window display. From in-store layout and product merchandising to housekeeping, lighting, music, price tickets, posters, window displays and props, right down to the paint scheme on walls and the types of fixtures… all these elements and how they are visually organised and rotated inside a store constitute visual merchandising. Here are some top visual merchandising tips

Shop your shop

Come in early one morning and spend a few minutes looking at the outside of your store. Is it time to repaint? Do you need to remove some overgrown weeds? How well does your signage hold up? And does the picture that greets the customer reflect who you are and what you sell?

Make your way inside and note your first impression as you enter. Are you tripping over stock? Or is there nothing to be seen?

Make your way up and down the aisles and simply observe how your products are presented. Are there any holes on the shelves where stock should be? Is too much stock jammed onto the one shelf? And how much ‘dust and dirt’ is on display? This is an important tip because if you don’t sell it, a customer doesn’t need to see it!

Also pay close attention to your ticketing and signage. Is the pricing easy to see? It is crucial that you regularly ‘shop your shop’ the way a customer would on. This little exercise can be done with the shop staff although it must be done before or after trade so as to avoid disruption. It’s a good way of getting into the habit of seeing a store like a customer does and it’s also a great way to quickly act on merchandising problems.

Zone your store

Most hardware stores carry a large volume of product and unfortunately this means it is not always easy to manage and merchandise everything at once. Visual merchandising can all too often be seen as another burden on top of the countless every day requirements like serving customers, organising deliveries, paper work and so on. A good way to stay on top of visual merchandising is to divide the store into sections or zones and then allocate a team member to each one.

Window merchandising

Window displays should be changed over every seven to fourteen days. Keep it simple and avoid clutter and excessive merchandising! It only takes a few minutes to check window displays every morning and this ensures that everything is in place. Remember that dead flies and dust balls don’t have very good margins so make sure you clean them every day too.

Room permitting, think about including large items like ladders, wheel barrows, outdoor furniture or barbeques. These items will have a strong visual impact because of the way they fill the display area.

Visual merchandising ideas

If you are stuck for ideas on a display theme or don’t know what story to tell in your window or around your store then there is always a season or promotion on hand to play on. As you know, the retailing calendar is always on promotion – Fathers Day, Christmas, Easter, summer sale, winter sale and many more! Many suppliers are also more than happy to work on promotions at store level.

Carol Bagaric is a Director at AUSVM. Visit www.ausvm.com.au or call (02) 9771 2496 for more information.

Retailers are also invited to ‘Shop your shop’ at the ‘Home and Giving Fair’ at the Sydney Showground, from July 4 to 7. Simply bring in a photo of your store and receive free merchandising tips. Visit www.homeandgiving.com for more information.