The Definitive Guide To Retail Visual Merchandising Guide
1. HOW TO DEVELOP GREAT
IN YOUR STORE
AS D M A R K E T W E E K
2. Visual Merchandising is an
important component of retail
How your products are
displayed on your floor is what
makes customers fall in love
with them. This ultimately
VISUALS ARE EVERYTHING
3. How your store looks is sometimes more
important that what you are selling.
Is your store entrance inviting?
Are your fixtures and wall standards easy to
Are you telling a good visual story with your
All of these questions are key when you are
attempting to create a space that customers
want to spend their time and money in.
In this guide, we will explore the basics of visual
merchandising, as well as how to build a
formula to keep your store fresh and exciting for
all of your customers.
APPEARANCE SPEAKS VOLUMES
5. What does this mean for you as a store owner?
It translates into these five simple goals:
Create Excitement – You want your store to
draw your customer into your world through the
merchandise in it.
Stimulate All Five Customer Senses – A great
store plays to sensory perception. You want to
attract not only with sight, but smells (subtle
scents), touch, sound (complementary music)
Create A Successful Floor Plan – Ask yourself,
"What is the traffic flow in my store? Do I have
enough merchandise to set a promotional
display?" Set a clear image of your store layout
in order to achieve your end result.
5 GOALS OF GREAT VISUAL
6. Know Your Shopper Demographics – Customer
demographics are the who and what of the
people coming into your store. Knowing who are
you attracting and what they want you to sell to
them is imperative.
Be Inspired By Others – Visit other retailers and
note the differerent environments they offer.
What inspires you most about your competitors'
stores will likely excite your customers, too.
5 GOALS OF GREAT VISUAL
7. It is also important to add some KAOS! to
your store. This means:
Kinetic – Your merchandising should depict
motion, not just static imagery.
Assortment – Your visual merchandising
should show depth in your presentation of
multiple product offerings.
Over Communicate – Your store should carry
a sales theme through the department or
entire store. Make sure your associates are in
Sale! – Your end result is to attract sales by
leading the customer through the entire
store. Make sure discount merchandise is in
the back of your environment.
VISUAL KAOS DRIVES SALES
9. Use Planograms To Develop Flow
A planogram is a diagram that shows how and
where specific retail products should be placed on
shelves or displays in order to increase customer
purchases. Planograms allow you to plan how and
what you are merchandising. They help you decide
what tools, fixtures or props will be needed.
Your planogram should also include a blueprint of
the entire store. Ask yourself the following
Are there any dead spots or un-shoppable
What areas of the store will a display have the
Do I have a shipment of product meant for
display? If so, do I have enough?
10. Understand Traﬀic Flow
As you study the traffic flow, put yourself in your
customer's shoes and absorb what they see.
Outside – Your windows facing the parking lot or
walkway outside your entrance set the theme for
the visit. Make sure the story you are telling with
a display has clarity.
Doorway – The first five feet into your store is the
transition zone. Not much retail is done here, so
there is no real need for merchandising in this
Entrance – Beyond this area is the strike zone.
Place a table presentation, gondola or fixture here
with a good average price point. It is helpful to
continue the theme from your windows or
Do you use KAOS in your visual merchandising?
An expert explains» ow.ly/MIOXL #retail
10:40 PM - 11 May 2015
11. Sidewalls – The next stop is the inside wall to the right of
the entrance. In western cultures, we tend to move to the
right of an obstacle. Continue with the medium-priced
product like a secondary promotion.
Back of Store – The back of the store should be reserved
for high-demand and higher-priced items. This makes
your customer walk through the entire store to get to the
good stuff. Make sure this area is visible from the front of
Walkways – Keep your aisles wide. Make sure you are
ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant. This
also helps your customers and staff move efficiently
through your store.
Point Of Sale – You need great visibility of the sales floor
here, especially if you are asking a minimal sales force to
police and protect your merchandise. Avoid clutter and
keep an open countertop for your guests to place their
purchases on. Neatly place add-on and impulse items
12. How To Leverage Fixtures
Consider why you use fixtures. Are you fixturing
for ease and speed or are you creating
Make a checklist since you will be looking for
sturdy fixtures that offer the most flexibility to
your store. Make sure the fixtures relate to your
needs and you have the right hardware. Look at
the return on your investment, as well.
Do not buy an expensive fixture to display
low-priced trinkets or onesie sales items. Keep
round racks and straight bars for sale
merchandise, and use four-ways for non-folded
apparel and gondolas for accessories, and tables
for folded presentations.
13. How To Leverage Fixtures continued
For any retailer, it's important to remember
you don't bog down your sales floor with a
huge shelving unit, but also don't waste
space by placing a fixture with little impact
that may go unnoticed.
Think outside the box with your fixture
solutions. Furniture makes great displays.
Also take advantage of your vendors'
hospitality with any fixtures they offer, but
don't overdo it when placing them on the
sales floor. Too many different themes
upset your floor balance and confuse your
Be sure to rotate your floor pattern often,
especially if you have a repeat customer.
14. Understand The Use of Lighting
How will your guests see the goods? Lighting of
course! Lighting is key component in emphasizing
your product and promotional displays.
Lights fall into three classifications:
General lighting – Usually fixed in place on the
Accent lighting – Used to highlight displays.
Task lighting – Utilized for cash wraps, display
counters and work spaces.
Know about the types of light bulbs (fluorescent,
incandescent, halogen and CFLs). Identify the
potential cost and weigh your options. Think green
here, in regards to both the environment and your wallet!
15. Strategically Use Signage
You can communicate, educate and
direct traffic with the help of signs. On
the windows up front, promo decals
offer a clean and colorful approach to
letting your guests know what's inside.
Develop a sign template to work from
for consistency and to avoid confusing
your guest. Invest in a laminating
machine, too. Avoid handwritten signs
at all cost since they don't look
16. Become A Display Expert
Next, consider what your display is going to show.
Here are the types:
Similar product – This will educate your guest about
the depth of product you carry in a particular
Cross-Mix Product – Here, you will mix categories to
show a breadth of merchandise.
Branded – This will show a specific promotion, and
usually offers a mix.
Gather up the merchandise and consider props that
can help tell your targeted story. Use large items if
you can. Use thought-provoking placements, too. You
can even create your own props.
17. How-To Set Up Displays
When setting your promotion display tables or
walls, follow a theme with your items.
Remember the following for organization and
Light to Dark | Left to Right | Small to Large
When placing tables, make a positive impact with
your walls. Don't hide the walls. Instead, use your
table displays to draw the eye and focus the
attention on the wall.
Just like table displays, remember to keep your
walls full. You don't want blank, negative space. If
you have a small area that just can't be
merchandised, toss in a cool picture or frame a
vendor's logo. Also use props around your forms
18. Use Windows Wisely
Leverage your windows with
your vendors' marketing
budgets. Windows can be
used for promotional displays.
Props can be helpful with
If you do go the display route
with your window, remember
to check it regularly for
cleaning, refreshing and
19. Conduct Regular Maintenance
Create a maintenance schedule. This will help
keep your store looking fresh at all times.
Train your associates to reload and recover
your displays and floor stock.
Refold and resize your promotional displays
to avoid confusion. This is an ongoing
Take a snapshot of your wall sets, table
displays and windows and post them, along
with the planogram, behind the stockroom
door or in a folder behind the counter. That
way, your staff can refresh from the visual and
make it perfect each time.
Written By Steven Fisher
Sr. Buyer Relations Manager for Surf Expo, veteran retailer with over 25 years experience in buying and merchandising