Have you ever experienced walking down the street and getting distracted by a sign that says “Artisanal Breads, Baked Fresh Daily”?

You go inside the bakery, smell the heavenly warmth of freshly baked bread and catch sight of the gorgeous baguettes, sourdough bread, croissants and brioches. Plus, they have a range of eclairs, macarons and crepes filled with cream and sliced fresh fruit.

The whole rustic presentation — their use of soft lighting, baskets, soft brown paper and the handwritten labels all tell you that their breads and pastries must be handmade and taste out of this world.

It’s an unplanned stop, but you step out of that French bakery you’ve never been to before, with samples of every kind of bread they have, plus some cheeses, cold cuts and pastries, of course.

What is the point of this description, you might ask?

That, dear friend, is visual merchandising working its magic.

Defining Visual Merchandising

Visual merchandising is the art and practice of presenting consumer goods or retail products in a store, shop or supermarket in an attractive and interesting way to grab customers’ attention. If, for example, you have a clothing boutique, it’s your job to present what’s inside your store in the exterior display area beautifully, so customers are enticed to step into your shop and purchase some of your products.

While it’s easy to define visual merchandising — and it also sounds simple enough — expressing the true meaning of visual merchandising in practice is much harder than it sounds.

Visual merchandising involves the attractive, interesting and impactful orchestration of products, props, lighting, space, colour and other elements. You must do it in a way that highlights the best features of the products on display and doesn’t clash with the look of your store.

The Value of Effective Visual Merchandising

Shop front window signage completed by Apex

The ultimate goal of visual merchandising is optimising the attractiveness of a product to captivate customers and get them to spend on what you offer. This, of course, is meant to boost sales in the short and long term and maximise your return on the space you might be renting.

Beyond this, however, you also want your customers to keep coming back to give you repeat business. You want them to get comfortable with your store’s physical setup, so they’ll become loyal customers and patronise your brand or business.

There are different elements you can manipulate to make your store visually appealing and enhance the customer experience. These include your signage and packaging, lighting, staff uniforms, general store or shop layout, point-of-sale (POS) materials, and the colours, shapes and textures of the props you use.

Visual Merchandising Meaning

Although you might already have a fair idea of what makes a shop display attractive, knowing the different types of visual merchandising is important.

This way, you can use them to enhance not only your merchandise displays but also the entire customer experience.

Optically Clear wall graphics completed by Apex Signage
  • Signage: Signage works like your business’s marker and address at the same time. It helps people locate your place of business and gives your establishment an identity. The kind of signage you use also gives people an indication of the vibe or feel of your business.

    Additionally, you can use signage to give people directions and inform them about the different functions of the various sections in your store or shop.

  • Window displays: Your window display area is your space for creativity and ensuring the final product captures shoppers’ attention. So even if they have no plans to shop, they’ll be curious enough to step into your store and try your products.

    You can use window displays to showcase your seasonal offerings, new products, sales, discounts and other offers.

  • Mannequins: Mannequins are usually associated with retail clothing stores as visual merchandisers use these to give customers an idea of how the clothes on display could look on a real person.

    Creative visual merchandisers use mannequins to present products in clever, unique or interesting ways to boost interest even among passive shoppers.

  • Interactive displays: Electronic and appliance stores use touchscreen technology to draw people towards specific products and engage them, so they can test or get more details about each product.

    However, achieving interactivity doesn’t always require you to be high tech. Asking customers to sample or try your products is interactive, too — something that’s usually employed among food companies, household and lifestyle retailers, and sporting goods sellers.

Effective Visual Merchandising Tips

You can spend a lot on merchandising but still miss your goals. Below are tried-and-tested visual merchandising tips you should implement (if you haven’t done so yet):

  • Know your customers well. Is your target audience teenagers on the lookout for trendy fashion items or mums searching for great bargains? Find out everything you can about your market and tailor your visual merchandising strategy around that information.
  • Appeal to people’s wants, not their needs. People will buy what they need no matter what. Your job is to make people notice the things they want and to purchase those products now. Make them see what they aspire to have and inspire them to buy.
  • Tell an interesting story. People love a good story, and they’ll stop to see or listen if the hook catches their attention. To do this, you might need to engage with their different senses. You can use music to appeal to their sense of hearing, fragrance to their sense of smell, movement to their sense of sight and so on.
  • Use compelling signage. Utilise strategically placed signs (including store fixtures) that are short and easy to read to draw people’s attention to products or items you want to highlight.
  • Look for opportunities to cross-merchandise. You can club related products together to create or impart a sense of experience. For example, you might be launching a new line of teapots. For this, you can include a complete tea set, silverware and tea products in your teapot display to encourage customers to purchase the products together and increase sales.
  • Audit your POS. Always test and measure the effectiveness of your visual merchandising techniques and see which ones generate more interest and sales. This way, you’ll get a clearer idea of which setups appeal to more people. Keeping a record of all your merchandising ventures will also help ensure you don’t duplicate your efforts and compel you to keep things fresh and be more creative every time.

Achieve Your Goals with Visual Merchandising

Visual merchandising is both a science and an art.

You need to take a calculated and strategic approach and use the data you have to create eye-catching displays and manipulate merchandising elements to enhance customer experience and increase sales.

Why not start with your signage and get in touch with Apex Signage today?

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