It’s official. The high street is bouncing back. After years of supermarket supremacy, shoppers are seeking out individuality rather than the corporate, and the personal touch rather than the generic. The independent retail sector will probably never be able to compete with the multi-nationals in terms of volume or discount prices, but they do offer what customers have been lacking in recent years: choice, individuality and quality.
Attention to Detail
What marks out most independent businesses is their attention to detail, especially to their window displays, which are vital in attracting customers into the shop in the first place. It’s estimated that shoppers will look at a window display for only three seconds before either deciding to enter or move on. Vibrant, relevant window displays really do make a difference to footfall in shops on busy high streets, enticing shoppers with seasonal displays, promotions or new lines.
However, it’s not just the windows of a shop which need to look good. The concept of high-impact retail visual merchandising extends beyond the facade and into the store itself. A bright and eye-catching window display will count for nothing if the interior of the store is cluttered, badly laid out and difficult to understand in terms of flow. Effective visual merchandising for retailers helps them to present their store in the best possible light, whatever they sell, and helps to maximise sales and increase profits.
More Than Just a Window Display
Retail visual merchandising has been described as a creative blend of art and science with a little bit of alchemy thrown in to create the magic. Store owners have a raft of visual and psychological elements at their disposal with which to encourage shoppers to linger and buy, including:
Ambiance – lighting, music and interior design (including fixtures and fittings) which set the tone of a store.
Store layout – which should be easy to navigate and encourage customer curiosity and flow.
Visual elements – posters, graphics and Point of Sale (POS) material to help direct customers to relevant areas of the store and give them information about the products available.
Effective visual merchandising for retailers also entails ensuring that customers not only know what you stock, but are also able to find it within your store and have all the information they need about it right in front of their eyes. Each brand you stock has its own personality and image, whether it’s cuddly toys, beauty products or baked beans, and ‘pitching’ the products successfully is essential to maximise sales.
This may mean segmenting the ranges you hold and using effective visuals to increase their impact. Seasonality plays a large part in product promotion. As any retailer will tell you, high-profile calendar events have the potential to augment profits throughout the year.
These include January sales, St Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mothering and Fathering Sundays, summer promotions and peak wedding season, back to school, Halloween, Bonfire Night and, probably the most important retail time of the year, Christmas. They all need to be properly prepared and budgeted for in terms of visual merchandising. Creative preparation can make all the difference for retailers looking to boost profits, so it’s important to plan ahead and think about using the tools you have at your disposal in the most efficient and effective manner.