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Visual Merchandising

Visual Merchandising “First Aid Kit” For Small Clothing Stores

What every small clothing store owner should know about his / her silent sales person!

  • Are you the owner of a small clothing store?
  • Have you heard about visual merchandising but don’t know where to start?
  • Do you feel stressed whenever you think about refreshing your store’s interior?
  • Do you want to increase your sales figures?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then this article is for you!

Think of this article as your Visual Merchandising “First Aid kit”, where you will find a few simple, quick & easy ideas that will help you improve visual merchandising in your store, without breaking the bank.

But first things first! What is Visual Merchandising?

In today's competitive Retail environment, in order to increase sales, it is important to provide shoppers with an atmosphere of entertainment and a positive shopping experience. That’s where your silent salesperson, Visual Merchandising, comes in. Visual merchandising is what tempts the bored customer, to browse the products on display, it is the use of store displays & window displays to highlight products, attract customers, and maximize sales! 

Visual Merchandising appeals to the shopper’s senses in order to elicit an emotional response that will hopefully lead to a purchase decision. But the problem is that visual merchandising is often neglected, especially in small businesses, where the store owner doesn’t have the time and money to give it the necessary attention. However, it is very important to find the time to bring the displays to life & make an impact on the shopper, since research has shown that the majority of consumers make their purchase decisions while they are in the store!

Here are 5 easy tips to get you started:

1. Your window should tell a story!

Sales and marketing professionals have known for a long time that stories always win when it comes to persuasion, because stories are easier to understand and relate to. We all enjoy a good story, whether it's a book, a movie, or an anecdote. But why do we feel so much more engaged when we hear a story?

There is actually a fairly simple explanation for that: When we hear boring data or facts, it hits our language processing parts in the brain, where we decode words into meaning. But that's it, nothing else happens. When we listen to a story, it activates many other areas in our brain (not just the language processing parts). For example If someone tells us about how delicious certain foods were, we immediately think about food, become hungry and crave this delicious dish we envision in our minds. That’s why it’s really important to create a window display that will tell a story, stop passersby and lure them into your store in search of the rest of the storyline.

Here’s a great example of a winning, storytelling window display:

'Breakfast at Tiffany's' is a classic film released in 1961, starring Audrey Hepburn. Audrey, as character Holly Golightly is a Manhattan call girl. Her aspirations for glamour and wealth are epitomized by the comfort she feels at Tiffany's, the famous jewelry store on Fifth Avenue, where she believes nothing can ever go wrong.  The movie starts with Audrey standing on the sidewalk in the early morning hours after a night at 'work', gazing into the windows of the store, admiring the diamonds on display.

Actually Audrey is not admiring the diamonds or the window display but is drawn into a story. She identifies with the image & lifestyle that the store stands for. Or in her own words: "I don't want to own anything until I find a place where me and things go together. I'm not sure where that is, but I know what it's like. It's like Tiffany's. “

So, which story does your window tell? 

Visual Merchandising “First Aid Kit” For Small Clothing Stores
Visual Merchandising

 

2. Put your newest and most expensive items in the spotlight

It’s much easier to catch shoppers’ attention with things they want (even if they don’t really need them). That’s why you shouldn’t highlight practical products that the customer already needs (and probably came into the store to buy) but the ones that stand out, the ones that are unique, expensive and maybe out of their budget.

For example, don’t highlight the practical & comfortable shoes just because they’re what every sensible woman needs. Instead highlight those glamorous over-the-knee leather boots. Just because they came in looking for comfortable shoes, doesn’t mean they won’t treat themselves to the expensive boots.

Which products should you highlight in order to attract potential customers?

3. Use mannequins to show the complete theme & lifestyle

Refrain from creating boring product displays that feature only one item – either just red sweaters or just necklaces or just shoes. Instead use mannequins inside your store to present a certain theme or lifestyle.

For example: in a sporting goods store, customers are more likely to respond to strong & buff mannequin dressed from head to toe in the latest crop of activewear brands, than to a boring display table, showing a pair of athletic shoes, yoga pants or leggings. 

Mannequins can boost sales, since they represent an ideal lifestyle and customers who aspire to look like them, will buy the complete outfit instead of just one item.

Visual Merchandising

How can you inspire your customers?

Visual Merchandising

4. Use Signage to communicate with your customers

Customers need to feel smart, don’t make them ask for directions after wandering aimlessly in your store. Instead help them with clear store signage & clearly defined areas. Add a few easy to read signs to help shoppers see across the store to where they want to go. Directional signage is great but you can also use signage to convey a message: list the benefits of a certain item, set the mood & inspire shoppers.

 

How can you use signage to improve your customer’s experience?

5. Be smart & use store fixtures wisely

Before deciding which store display fixture goes where, you need to consider your display needs! They can be different by store type but also different between sections of your store and the merchandise on display in each section.

You need to think about the main goal of each section: for example do you want to encourage customer interaction in a certain section, while another section is mainly for creating ambiance. Or do you need displays that are easily reconfigured and include many interchangeable accessories such as hangbars, shelf brackets, shelves, faceouts etc.?

Reconfigurable displays are extremely useful, especially if you wish to be able to change your display look often, without having to actually buy new display fixtures. It is important to change your displays often, especially if you have many repeating customers, to keep the store looking fresh & interesting throughout the year.

Visual Merchandising

It’s important to be creative & think outside the box – have fun with accessories and continue with the same storyline presented by your window displays.

So, how can you use your new & existing store fixtures to increase sales and product visibility?

 

And don’t forget…

We've all done it - you walk into a store, take a look around, and leave. Something about the store or the merchandise displays turned you off. Visual merchandising will help you to draw customers into your store and make them feel respected & comfortable to pick up and buy your products!