Creating Retail Displays That Sell

Visual Display Tips

Mother and daughter window shopping
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Creating an attractive product display can draw the customer in, promote a slow-moving item, announce a sale, or highlight new arrivals. If your store front is fortunate enough to feature one or more windows, then you have one of the most proven (and least expensive) forms of advertising at your disposal.

Some stores located in a mall or other structure may lack windows, but don't despair. There are many places throughout the store to build beautiful displays.

First, stand at the threshold of your store. This si the doorway. Typically, you walk right in to your store and don't pay attention. Stand where you strummer stands and see what your customer sees. What do you see? What draws you attention? It might be a good thing drawing it (beautiful display) or a bad thing (trash or empty shelves.) Take a look at the flow of traffic in your store. Are there any areas that are a focal point for customers?

Your town may have individuals or visual merchandising companies you can hire to dress your windows, but if you're concerned with saving money, the following tips will help you create an attractive display.

Visual Display Tool Box

Before designing a product display, put together a visual display tool box to keep on hand. By having all of these items in one location it will save time in actually preparing the display.

  • Scissors, Stapler, Two-Sided Tape, Pins
  • Hot glue sticks and glue gun
  • Monofilament Fishing Line
  • Tape Measure
  • Razor Blade/Utility Knife
  • Toolkit with Hammer, Nails, Screwdriver, Screws
  • Notepad, Pencil, Marker
  • Signage, Sign Holders
  • Glass Cleaner/Paper Towels
  • Props (Non-merchandise Items)

Take time to plan the display. Consider what you want to accomplish, develop a budget and determine a central theme.

You may even want to sketch your display on paper. Gather your visual display tool box, the merchandise and any props. Make sure all materials and location (tables, windows, racks) are clean. Choose a slow time of the day or build the display after hours. In my experience, doing the displays during open hours created energy in the store. 

Elements of Effective Visual Merchandising

  • Balance: Asymmetrical rather than symmetrical balance with the display.
  • Size of Objects: Place the largest object into display first.
  • Color: Helps set mood and feelings.
  • Focal Point: Where product and props/signage and background come together.
  • Lighting: Should accent focal point, if possible.
  • Signage: The one element I often see missed is signage. It can make or break the display. 
  • Simplicity: Less is more so know when to stop and don't add too many items. 

Once the display is finished, add appropriate signage. Take photos of the display and keep record of the product sales during the display's existence. Save your information in a file folder for easy reference.

By documenting its success, you can re-create the display next year or if it flops, you can make sure you don't repeat the same mistakes.

Involve your employees. They have some great ideas. Connect your displays to your marketing and advertising. By this, I mean do a display that coordinates with the current ad. Use props to set the mood. For example, in my shoe stores, we used to put sand and shells on the table with the flip flops. Or in the Fall, we put a basket of leaves and apples with the hiking boots. By using these props, we were connecting to multiple senses of the customer, not just the eyes. The sand and the apples made the customers picture themselves at the beach or on a hike. These added touches definitely increased our sales. And they were cheap and easy. 

Like any other aspect of retailing, creating an attractive display takes a little skill and lots of trial and error. As your store changes, so will your opportunities for visual displays. Keep working at designing eye-catching and innovative ways to make your retail store profitable through visual merchandising. The bottom line - a display is the cheapest employee on the planet. It can sell merchandise for you if you do it right. And it doesn't require a paycheck or benefits and never calls in sick. Well as long as its kept up that is. 

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