Last Updated on August 8, 2022 by bethrmartin

If you’ve seen a product in a shop window and been drawn in by its visual appeal, you’ve experienced the power of visual merchandising first-hand. Visual merchandising is the delicate balance of science and art of creating attractive product displays in retail stores and other commercial settings that tempt customers into making purchases.

This subtle form of marketing involves creative styling, lighting, colors, display props, and even technology to create the best possible visual presentation for retail products. Visual merchandising includes in-store displays and display windows, and it’s an essential part of retail design.

This blog post will explain exactly what visual merchandising is and how to create displays that generate the maximum effect. We will also discuss nine critical aspects of visual merchandising, and how you can implement them in your own retail store.

So let’s get started!

Visual Merchandising display by Beth R Martin (bethrmartin.com)
Silk scarves are the visual merchandising focal point in this window display I designed for Herm├Ęs.

What is Visual Merchandising?

Standing out in the retail world is tough, and the best way to do this is with visual merchandising. This is the science of optimizing product placement and displays to create the most appealing visual presentation possible.

By using color theory, lighting, and other design techniques, visual merchandisers can make products more attractive, encouraging customers to buy.

Effective visual merchandising will not only increase sales but will also cohesively represent a brand’s image. Visual elements should create a space that speaks to the customers.

Every part of the store where products are displayed counts as visual merchandising, so you want to make sure an impact is being made on your customer even before they walk through your front door.

Visual Merchandising display by Beth R Martin (bethrmartin.com)

Why Is Visual Merchandising Important?

Using the practice of visual merchandising to your advantage is essential for three main reasons:

  1. To let your customers understand your brand’s identity, and attract the appropriate customers for your shop. For example, luxury goods are typically displayed more subtly with soft lighting and lots of visual space between products. A store with a younger audience might use bright colors and bold visuals to draw in its target customer.
  2. A great in-store experience will make your customers want to return to see your space in person. This is extra important in the days of online shopping when customers need a reason to not just make purchases from the comfort of their homes.
  3. If you create an atmosphere in your retail store that feels more like a special event, you are more likely to engage new customers and keep them coming back.
  4. And most importantly, fantastic visual merchandising will create business and drive sales, which is the whole point. I’ve worked on many displays where customers purchased the products in the windows as soon as I placed the merchandise.
Visual Merchandising display by Beth R Martin (bethrmartin.com)

9 Critical Aspects of Visual Merchandising

Every aspect of a store’s design can play a part in visual merchandising. Here are the main aspects that you should take into consideration when determining the merchandising in your retail stores:

  1. Window Displays
  2. Store Layout
  3. Signage
  4. Color Theory
  5. Mannequins
  6. Cash Wrap
  7. Lighting
  8. Seasonal Displays
  9. Technology
Visual Merchandising display by Beth R Martin (bethrmartin.com)

1. Window Displays

Windows are one of the most invaluable aspects of visual merchandising and they aren’t only important in big cities like New York. They are usually the first thing potential customers see when they walk by a retail store, and if your windows are captivating enough, you might draw in new customers from across the street or even driving by.

Creating a great window display is about thinking outside the box and using your imagination. You only have a couple of seconds to capture the attention of a passing shopper, so don’t be afraid to be bold.

The watches look like sprinkles on giant doughnuts in this display.

2. Store Layout

The overall store layout can make or break whether or not a purchase will be made, so you want to ensure customers can see products in a straightforward and eye catching way. Shoppers should be able to easily maneuver your displays and create zones related to your brand’s merchandise.

Visual Merchandising display by Beth R Martin (bethrmartin.com)

3. Signage

Signs are what will direct your customers through your store, and this starts from your main entry sign down to your price tags and everything in between.

Cohesive signage is a simple visual merchandising tool that can help your customers find what they need, which will help to increase sales. Clear signage will make a retail space easier to navigate and look more professional.

Hang tags on clothing, price tags, sale signs, and seasonal signage are all types of signage you might consider in your store. If you want your visual merchandising to look refined, all of these should look consistent.

4. Color Theory

Creating a cohesive color scheme is necessary for visual merchandising. Colors can be used to subconsciously influence the way customers feel about your store and products. Choosing the right colors will help you to set the tone for your customer’s experience and make a lasting impression.

Diament Jewelry store design by Beth R Martin (bethrmartin.com)
Vibrant colors are on display at Diament Jewelry. Store designed by Beth R Martin.

5. Mannequins

If you sell fashion, jewelry, or other items worn by a person, you might want to use mannequins in your store displays. Mannequins are a great way to highlight products and create seasonal displays.

There are many types of mannequin forms, so choose the ones that will look the best in your retail store and display your products the best.

6. Cash Wrap

The cash wrap is the point of sale where your customers make their purchases, so make sure it is visually appealing. Design your cash wrap to seamlessly fit in with the rest of your store, while still standing out.

Consider using the counter and sides of the cash wrap for small items that customers might purchase at the last moment.

It’s also necessary to remember that this is where money will be exchanged and stored, so safety features, such as a locked drawer for the cash, are critical.

7. Lighting

Store lighting is critical to setting the right design tone, but it also functions to highlight products in a specific way. The type of products you sell will help to dictate what kind of store lighting you need. For example, jewelry stores typically use accent lighting to highlight their products in the best way possible.

8. Seasonal Displays

Updating displays throughout the year will encourage your customers to drop in and see how your store has changed. This could be as simple as adding some greenery for spring or could include elaborate pop-up displays.

Visual Merchandising display by Beth R Martin (bethrmartin.com)

9. Technology

In recent years, technology has become an impactful part of visual merchandising. Using large TVs or screens as part of your store displays can help to showcase products in a new and innovative way and add new dimensions to your customer’s shopping experience.

You can also use tablets to show customers additional product information or help them make a purchase that will deliver directly to their homes.

Photo via www.twoseven.net
Image via twoseven.net

What is a Visual Merchandiser?

A visual merchandiser (or VM for short) is a person who is responsible for maintaining the visual displays for a brand. Some companies have in-house visual merchandising teams, and some use freelance merchandisers.

The typical role of a visual merchandiser will be to help change out the windows, change out the seasonal merchandise on the floor, dress mannequins, and highlight products that the brand wants to promote. A VM needs to understand the target customer and create ideal displays to attract shoppers, which converts sales.

Image via twoseven.net

Conclusion

Visual merchandising is a critical aspect of retail business and one that should not be overlooked.

It’s all about creating an inviting and memorable space that makes customers want to purchase your products and come back again and again. Today, you can buy anything online, but if you offer customers a unique shopping experience they will still want to be repeat customers in person.

By following these tips, you can start to create visual displays that will help increase sales and represent your brand in the best light possible. Please reach out if you have any questions or need help getting started!