There was a time when great merchandising was a valuable tool in a retailer’s arsenal against competitors. Then it became a cost-saving area.
Today retailers are rethinking the experiential shopping experience their store offers and great merchandising becomes relevant again.
Merchandising is one of the most impactful strategies you can implement to influence a brick-and-mortar consumer and cause them to pause and consider.
In an effective display, all the right elements are there: curated product, featured spot, well-lit, props of appropriate size, all in a limited color palette.
The trends I'm sharing with you include some of the most exciting store designs ever.
Many people do shop online using Amazon and still shop brick-and-mortar stores. And they will for the foreseeable future.
When they’re online, customers can’t emotionally connect to the merchandise. And let’s be honest, they’re probably just searching for the cheapest example of what they’re looking for.
Discover: How to craft a retail merchandising plan with this comprehensive primer
When they make the effort to visit a brick and mortar store, your first chance to sayit’s different hereis through your display skills and how your store focuses their attention.
Then, they aren’t just looking for thecheapestbut are open to having an emotional connection with your products that they can touch, hold, and try on.
Now I know some would consider visual merchandisingold-school. After all, it’s not as sexy as a pair of virtual reality goggles or as cutting edge as a robot.
But let’s be honest, most of those in-store tools are unproven to result in higher shopper conversions; they’re just new and popular topics of conversation.
As Tom Redd, VP at SAP recently said about such shiny objects,
Those shoppers who are out there need to be shaken from their digital cocoons when they walk into your store.
First, a great display window or merchandised wall reduces customers' choices. Poorly merchandised windows or walls make customers feel overwhelmed.
It’s the difference between this Roots store in Canada.
Versus this cluttered window in New York
Just like selling, you can’t justwing it.If you’re new to visual merchandising training, check out my post 12 Insights How To Merchandise Your Store.
Going beyond those tips, the key is to get your messaging right.
What do you want your shopper to do when they see your display?
Play the video? Try it on? Pick it up?
Then tell them so!
I see so many displays without any focus. That happens because whoever made the displaydidn’t know what they wanted the shopper to do.
To make sure that doesn’t happen to you, describe what your collection of products in the display will do for the consumer.
Not sure how? It's easy. Simply ask customers who buy those items, “Why did you buy these today?” The more answers you hear, the more clarity you’ll have around real customers' benefits from purchasing.
The merchandise can only do so much with obvious relationships, so consider signage that shows a system. You have to put into a few words or icons what would usually take you several sentences to say.
This becomes yoursystemof displaying your products.
Here's an example of a paint store:
You have a display of a gallon of house paint, a brush, and a paint can opener. You could label those asThe Basics. To the right of it, you could show trim paint with a trim brush asEven Better. To the right of that, you could show Windex and paper towels.To Finish The Job.
You could do this with almost any product.
A seasoned employee or manager should be able to fill in the blanks of this sign template to guide anyone in building a display:
So, for example, in a display at an electronics store for a new theater system, the sign might read...
There is no magic bullet for every store.
I like how Kiehl’s spotlights their bestsellers with actual customer quotes in my photo below. The top ten is great suggestive selling. Plus, we’re always interested in knowing what’s trending.
Not every display will produce conversions, but they should slow the customer down, at least long enough for your professional greeting (hint, it’s not"How are you today?").
When looking for how to merchandise your store, remember your shopper’s journey is first to discover, then to compare options, and finally to acquire. The better you can slow down shoppers’ eyes, the more they’ll discover additional items than the ones they originally came in to purchase.
Research has shown that when shoppersfeelnothing, theydonothing. They default into I don’t caremode and fall back to price, convenience, and a distaste for theworkinvolved in shopping.Great displays can change that…but only if you’re creative.
Notice the difference between this shoe display...
Just two simple signs let us get the idea these are walking shoes built for the weatherwithoutscreaming price. The few seconds it takes you to read the signs creatively stops you.
Clayton Christensen in his bookThe "Innovators DNA"notes five key behaviors that optimize your brain for discovery:
I witnessed two young women who spent the better part of an hour using an app to place pig ear stickers on photos they had taken on their smartphones. Giggling, they were talking about howcreativetheir Instagram filter was.
That’s not creativity. But where will younger employees learn to nurture their creativity in a world of pig noses in pictures?
If you make it your store, then you will let them discover their imagination, and that will keep them involved in your business. They’ll feel more confident, and turnover will be lower.
I love this Sight For Sore Eyes store in Los Gatos. If I remember correctly, the owner’s son, a physics major, came up with this creative window below.
All the elements are there: well-lit curated product, props of appropriate size, a limited color palette, and creative signage that feels like something fromHighlights.
Whenwe don’t listen to that small creative voice, "What if we?"it dies, shrivels, and vanishes. And you end up with displays like this …
Creativity is a practice; once youknowthe problem and constraints, you can look for creative answers.
Outside of sales training, nowhere is the creative spirit more needed than how you display merchandise in a retail store.
I’m not talking about someone who can spend hours filling up a window with merchandise leading to a cluttered and confusing space. The kind of creativity I'm talking about here is not in the eye of the beholder...
Let me be very clear...
That’s why a great display focuses the shoppers’ attention and gets them to consider buying something.
Take a look at how this retailer made small items pop.
Creativity led them to make or buy these small shelves to showcase on a display wall; otherwise, the items would have been lost on a table or case.
Unfortunately, below is the type of signage and visual merchandising we see too often to address the challenge of moving product; summer bug spray next to the winter salt in January.
You can’t just wing it.
See also, [Pics] Steal These 9 Visual Merchandising and Store Ideas
There are several technological advancements in retail right now that let machines do some of the tasks humans used to perform. And the trend is only going to continue.
But creativity and imagination are still in the domain of humanity.
Use your imagination and nurture your employees to solve the problem of getting customers to stop and consider your products with better displays at your brick-and-mortar store.
Oh, and don't forget, angle your fixtures, so customers see more merchandise, not just end caps.
For more on merchandising, snag a copy of my book.
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