What image do you want your business to project to your market? Do you want your business to look stylish? Trendy? Hip? High quality? Or are you after building a perception of your products as providing value for money? Once you have zeroed in on your brand identity, visual merchandising comes in to express and reinforce it through your product design and mix. Your product design, the way it is presented, and your company’s promotional collaterals – logo, business cards, stationery, and brochures – shape the public’s perception of your company. Visual merchandising’s domain, however, is your store, particularly the way it is laid out to lure customers and keep them coming back.
Visual merchandising is about arranging the store and its contents in a way that will encourage customers to enter, look around, and ultimately make a purchase. Visual merchandising is not confined to boutique and department store window displays. Even top coffee shops, Internet cafés, and supermarkets use its principles in their interior design.
“A visual merchandiser not only arranges the store’s interiors but also considers the movement of its products. If some items aren’t moving, they should be arranged so they would sell more. Merchandisers are experts at shop layout and goods distribution,” says Niña Sandejas, stylist of several music videos and had done the window displays boutiques U and Zara.
Sales clerks with no background in visual merchandising should not be entrusted with the task because a store’s design has a direct effect on sales, although those with an eye for detail and a flair for design would do a good job.
While the store arrangement will depend on the type of establishment, a few visual merchandising rules apply to almost all business types:
1. Know your customers. This is the most important thing, says Bo Escueta, a jewelry designer who previously headed the merchandising department of several major retail food establishments. “Unless you know them, you won’t know what to sell, how to sell, and how to present your wares,” she says.
2. Keep a clean, well-lighted place. But don’t forget to address other senses as well. Aside from making it visually appealing, keep the store nice smelling too. The music should complement the store concept and jibe with the target market. Train the staff to be courteous and knowledgeable.
3. Avoid clutter. Customers must find the store arrangement convenient. “A spacious store makes it easier for the customer to decide what to buy. It\\\'s confusing and stressful for a customer, for instance, to be made to dig through a pile of clothes,” says Sandejas.
4. Follow your store’s “walk”. For about a month, track the customers’ natural route, for the areas they tend to stop are good places to place slow-moving items.
5. Mix and match. “Slow-moving items should be mixed with fast-moving ones,” says Sandejas. Mixing merchandises also sends a subtle suggestion on other items the customers might want to buy.