Top 10 secrets of successful visual merchandising & retail design

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Visual merchandising and retail design don’t just improve the aesthetics of your retail space, but they also have the potential to enhance functionality, customer loyalty and brand identity. Want to ensure that you retail store makes a brilliant first impression, as well as a lasting final one? Use these top 10 visual merchandising and retail design tips and tricks to optimize both space and sales.

1. Access matters

A cluttered retail floor is not only unattractive, it’s confusing to the consumer. Prioritize a clean and simple layout above all else when it comes to designing your store. The easier it is for consumers to navigate your space, the more time they’ll spend in your store. A cramped space with insufficient passage, conversely, can quickly send customers packing.

Remember: the ultimate goal is a welcoming space, so forego “don’t touch” signs and instead invite shoppers to touch and interact with your display.

Lastly, keep in mind that today’s customers have brief attention spans. Place items at varying heights, and create visual breaks between long, product packed aisles to help maintain their attention of easily-distracted shoppers.

2. Reduce visual clutter

Clutter isn’t just a matter of physical space. It can also manifest in the form of excessive and overwhelming marketing displays. Rather than barraging your customers with multiple marketing displays, take a streamlined approach. For example, if you’re advertising many different products, consider implementing a rotating digital display board. This has the added potential advantage of drawing a customer’s eye to an item or deal he/she might otherwise have missed.

Factor in the latest research indicating that a whopping 90 percent of in-store shoppers use their mobile devices in stores, and the task becomes less about inundating them with information and more about giving them the means to access this information for themselves — a particularly appealing prospect for today’s “just Google it” Millennial generation.

3. Catch their attention

Reducing visual clutter doesn’t mean forsaking all color and style. Rather, it means incorporating well-cultivated display pieces designed to attract customer attention in a unique way. It’s not about inundating consumers with everything you have to offer, but instead about highlighting particularly relevant or compelling items. Avoid monochromatic displays. Color — particularly bold blacks, whites, and reds — quickly attracts attention.

Take Target, for example. Its signature red is such a principle part of its logo, lettering, and store decor that the company has trademarked it.

Or consider this: consumers are 15 percent less likely to return to stores with orange color schemes than with blue color schemes.

Heinz EZ Squirt Blastin’ Green ketchup, meanwhile, is a perfect example of how color can drive sales. In the switch from red to green, Heinz experienced historically high sales — a whopping $23 million over seven months.

Additionally, many visual merchandisers and retail designers find planogram software to be particularly useful for gaining a better understanding of how the space will look.

Once you’ve captured their attention, don’t risk losing it by leaving off price tags. Consumers hate having to request a price, so make sure all stock prices are well-displayed.

4. Tell a story

Establishing product segment areas — from pet supplies to paper goods — not only helps shoppers understand the landscape, but also encourages them to stock up on related goods. But that’s just the beginning. Establishing narrative “themes” adds both practical and inviting appeal. By setting up a coffee-themed display, for example, you not only appeal to shoppers’ needs, but also to their sensibilities. Use a variety of display props — from tables to wall fixtures to shelving — to keep things interesting while showcasing your wares.

Take Chick-fil-A’s #CoffeeWithAStory campaign, for example. Not only has the brand constructed an appealing narrative around the role coffee plays in our lives, but it also prioritizes engagement by inviting consumers to share their own experiences via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

5. Exceed their needs

A bookstore sells books. A pet store sells pet supplies. A hair salon sells hair and beauty treatments. While these models may have worked 20 years ago, today’s consumers are looking for something more. Bookstores which offer coffee bars and reading areas, pet stores with pet bakery counters and “puppy playdate” sessions, and hair salons that also sell jewelry and other small accessories invite shoppers to stay longer and buy more. By embracing creativity and “thinking outside the box,” enterprising retail businesses build customer loyalty while also generating new streams of revenue.

6. Front and center

Your store window, along with the front area of your store, is essential for enticing foot traffic to venture inside. Not only should you keep new merchandise front and center, but you should also highlight trademark products to reinforce your brand identity and foster a sense of familiarity and trust among shoppers.

And don’t underestimate the value of proper lighting: people are drawn to light. A well-lit entry or display not only makes merchandise more appealing but also beckons to passersby.

Meanwhile, the days of enduring long lines at store entrances and exits are long gone. Rather, a centrally located checkout counter delivers immediate convenience. Stock the surrounding areas with frequently purchased goods to encourage impulse buys. Better yet? Incorporate point of sale solutions to help shoppers buy what they want when they want it while streamlining operations.

7. Build your brand

Visual merchandising and retail design aren’t just about deciding what goes where. They also deliver a valuable opportunity to reinforce your brand identity. Consider popular stores like Apple, Anthropologie, and Lululemon. These stores aren’t just selling products, but a lifestyle. By linking the look of your store with your products, you make a strong, consistent brand statement with which shoppers will identify.

Conversely, the failure of the JCPenney’s widely publicized reboot is largely attributed to lack of culture and the resulting dearth of brand experience. In short, your visual merchandizing and retail design efforts are part of delivering on your promise to consumers.

8. Stop shoplifters

Beyond building brand identity and boosting sales, savvy store design is also an effective deterrent for shoplifters. Make sure store employees have clear sight lines of the entire space.

9. Be dynamic

Customers are enticed by attractive displays, but the same tired display windows and tables have the opposite effect. To keep things fresh, frequently rotate your displays. If sales on a particular item are lagging, meanwhile, strategically mix them in with the latest arrivals to give them new life.

Also, when deciding on new displays, focus on relevance based upon recent purchase trends, seasonality, and new inventory in order to best match customer needs with your strategic business imperatives.

10. Play to wants, not needs

Many customers come into your store to buy a particular item. Odds are, they’ll leave with that item regardless of your visual merchandising and retail design efforts. Rather than highlighting these obvious, need-based buys, focus your efforts on showcasing wants, instead. After all, a shopper can’t make an impulse purchase without first being confronted with an unexpected and irresistibly appealing product.

Ultimately, the look and feel of your store has as much weight in the success of your business strategy as the products and services you proffer. By incorporating these 10 key visual merchandising and retail design techniques, you can enhance the shopper experience, while lending invaluable benefits to bottom line.

These 10 secrets are just the beginning – at BIGEYE, we know there’s a plethora of tips and tricks to help ensure that your brand is primed for success. Contact us today to continue the conversation!

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