One of my first retail passions was visual merchandising…
This includes setting a floor to visually appeal to the customer. It’s one of the top priorities in having a successful store of any kind. It can make or break you with regards to the first impression of your establishment and induce ease of shopping for your customer. Here are some things to look for when executing a strong presentation for your stores shopping environment:
- 1. Shopping Fixtures & Displays:
- Look at placement of fixtures & displays when you enter a store. Is it ADA approved? (Is there ease of movement for wheelchairs as well as stroller) Can customers effortlessly walk from the front of the store to the back of the store? Ask yourself these questions whether you are a boutique owner or a store manager.
- Are your fixtures & displays mobile? Can you move things around easily to change up your store? Too many times new fixtures or displays coming into my department are heavy or cumbersome making them not easy to move. Think about fixture capacity, placement and mobility. Trust me you run the risk of damaging your fixtures and having to buy new ones.
Once when I was involved in a floor renovation corporate purchased these heavy white tables that could not easily be moved. My team and I placed 8 out of the 10 tables but the other 2 could not fit on the floor. My Operations Manager needed them out of his stockroom but with the amount of merchandise coming in, we didn’t have the space to place those bulky white tables. In the end we had to trash those last 2 tables which cost over $1500 each. What a waste right?
2. Outfit & item inspirations is a must
If you do not have a compelling statement with items or outfits you can confuse and frustrate your customer. Here’s the thing, many customers walk into a store or go online to learn how to dress to put certain pieces together.
What I view as a strong visual statement is mannequins in action positions showcasing the pieces/items (running, sitting, up-side down etc). I also love when retailers collaborate with another company and produce amazing displays together. For example, The Peanuts (Charlie Brown Christmas) and Macy’s collaborated between 2014-2016 during Christmas time and all the New York Windows were focused on scenes from the famous TV special.
It also showcased some of Macy’s great memorabilia merchandise and winter items. It was a brilliant visual statement and it drove the cold weather category severely that year.
Mannequins and merchandising of walls are also important in order for your customer to understand your viewpoint and inspire their style and the need to shop in your store. I always love walking into a store with bold wallpaper. It brings texture and placing the correct merchandise on it will just give the store a wow piece. Have you ever been to @All Saints? I just love their display of the old sewing machines on their walls and window displays, it messages to the customer that they are known for amazing tailoring and strong in traditional sewing.
- Ensuring your floors are recovered is key. It speaks volume to the customer and it paints a picture of the level of professionalism.
- One time I went to a store (I won’t name) and tried to shop their denim department…as I wrote before “TRIED.” It was challenging. All the sizes were mixed and all the denim cuts were everywhere. What really shocked me was the condition of the floor on a Wednesday! If a floor is a bit challenging on a Monday I may be understanding, it follows a weekend, where stores get most of their foot traffic. Chaos on a Wednesday… I’m looking at the leadership and the engagement of the colleagues for sure.
- Fitting rooms have to be cleaned and it is a plus when a sales associate is going in and out of the fitting room removing clothes and helping customers. That tells me someone is attending customers and that the store really cares. Fitting rooms can make or break a customer experience. And honestly when I was an assistant store manager, fitting rooms were my least favorite to deal with.
- More often than not, there was a surprise in there (enough said)!!. At first, I used to avoid it and just ensured my managers checked on them, I soon realized that if I followed up constantly on fitting rooms then my team will do the same.
4. Merchandising on the Floor:
- When merchandising a floor, think about flow and how merchandise is placed. It’s an art but it can be learned. Base it on the brand and their identity. For example, Free People placement of goods is completely different than a Zara. Zara largely focuses on items & categories while Free People focuses on placing their goods in a collection with eclectic outfits created.
- Breaking up colors and prints is key to not overwhelming the customer when shopping a store. I can’t tell the difference between a shirt, pants and scarf all the same color put together on a rack. It goes the same way if you had multiple printed items all together. Break up prints with a solid color so the eye can see every piece.
Just remember Visual Merchandising is much more than just placing goods on the floor, you have to look at it from every aspect especially because of the customer. I’ve been bred a merchant so I look at so many things vs the normal customer when I enter a store. What do you pay attention to the most when you shop a retail store or e-commerce website?