Maximising Sales through Improved Visual Merchandising

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If you’re looking for ways to maximise your sales per square foot of store space, then it could be time to rethink your visual-merchandising strategy. Visual-merchandising allows you to display your stock in the best possible light and increase foot traffic to your store. It also enables you to create a better in-store experience for customers while enforcing a specific branding or marketing message. These practical tips for visual merchandising can be applied to any type of retail store.

1. Visualise target audience to create their ideal shopper experience

Before you can develop and refine your visual-merchandising strategy, you need to visualise your target customer base. Understanding the demographics of your target audience gives you a better idea about their lifestyles and preferences, which will help when it comes to creating the ideal shopper’s experience.

You will want to consider the age, spending power, and shopping habits of your target audience. Other characteristics to list include buying occasion, loyalty, purchase rate, and the types of benefits sought from the product and transaction.

You can build up a cogent profile of your customer base with a detailed database. Obtain customer data by inviting customers to complete questionnaires through social media or your company website, or by asking them to complete these in-store. Once you’ve clearly visualised your customer base, you’ll have a clearer idea of why they shop and what kind of experience they seek when they enter the store.

For example, if you’re a retailer of optical items, a large segment of your target market could be elderly people who need vision-correction items. This segment might prefer more information before they commit to a sale. You could then set up your store to display product lines targeted at older people.

2. Break the space down to its components

You can set up your store by examining each component and identifying their role in the sales process. All of these elements should fit for a coherent layout that optimises the shopper’s experience.

  • Window displays– The window display attracts foot traffic to the store. Window displays can also be used to showcase the best stock, new arrivals, trends, and themes. They help the customer visualise what the product will look like or how it can be used. Window displays can be used to create a strong, positive first impression, and induce potential leads to enter the store.
  • Shelf displays–Shelf displays can be used to highlight specific products, and to display accessories and other peripheral items. As shelf displays can be height adjusted, they are often used to target specific segments. For example, a lower shelf can be used to hold items targeted at children, while most profitable items often go on shelves located between the adult’s eye level and knee level (where the gaze tends to settle). At a practical level, shelf displays are good for using more of the store’s available space, but it’s important to avoid a feeling of clutter in the space.
  • Stock displays – Stock displays are where the rest of the stock is displayed, whether on more shelving, clothing racks, or tables. Premium spaces include the ends of aisles where specials or the most profitable items can be placed. Generally, similar or complementary products should be grouped together to boost sales of add-on and companion products.
  • Signage –Many stores utilise signage at the entrance and around the store to help customers navigate around the space, or to highlight sale times or specials.
  • Point of sale –Some retailers like to place accessories and product items at the counter to encourage last-minute purchases.
  • Display equipment and accessories – Using the right type of display equipment for the layout and theme enables you to create a seamless experience for the shopper. It also supports you in displaying your products in the best light. Experiment with equipment and accessories such as shelving, racks, counters, display tables, and display panels.

3. Rotate and refresh the space

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Another strategy to keep in mind is to avoid stale displays. Keep displays fresh by rotating items and rearranging them regularly, even when new stock has not arrived yet. Customers enjoy new and different products, and are more likely to be interested in revisiting the store if the displays are changed often. It’s even more critical to update displays if you’re holding special seasonal or promotional events.

4. Appeal to the five senses

Some retailers focus on the visual sense, but appealing to all five senses can make the shopper’s experience more enjoyable and improve conversion rates. Scent marketing has been shown to have a measurable impact on customers’ impressions of a brand and on sales. The ability to access a product by touch and feel is also important to most – if not all – customers. Background music can improve ambiance and mood in the store, while sample tastings and offerings can be vital for moving consumable products.

5. Maintain a consistent theme

Building a powerful merchandising theme can help you attract more customers, and ensuring that theme is consistent communicates professionalism to the customer. Inconsistent application of a theme can be jarring for the shopping experience, and ultimately turn customers away from your store.

6. Use lighting and colour

Lighting is often underrated in retail spaces, yet accent lighting can be used to highlight specific products or specials. Effective lighting builds ambiance, intensifies the impact of visual displays, and sets off products in their best light.