If you want to design visual merchandising that successfully boosts sales, start by asking: Who are your customers? What makes them happy? and Why your brand?
Answers to the above questions will reveal the true essence about your products or brand that appeals to your customers’ particular lifestyle, or the lifestyle they emulate. Successful visual merchandising creatively translates this essence by telling an imaginative, visual story that reinforces your customers’ faith in your brand. Sound difficult? Well it can be, but if you design visual merchandising that engages your customers’ desires, while also reflecting your brand values—you are sure to move the needle.
Start by analyzing your weekly sales data, and determine if your present displays are affecting conversions. POS data, stock levels and local trends — these data points will change regularly, but they will give you a fix on the products’ your customers are most aware of and are purchasing the most. Your visual merchandising must lead customers to these products that are ‘right’ for them—at the right time, while also enticing them to buy products that go along with them logically, and all this while creating a unique visual experience in your store.
We’ve put together some pointers on visual merchandising techniques that you can apply to your SMB retail store to help keep people in your store longer, and convert them to paying customers.
Inspire interaction with technology and signage
In-store technology can very effectively engage with your customers, and so incorporating tech into your visual merchandising is a highly recommended technique to increase interactivity that is proven to boost sales. Tablets in standing display holders, for example, that let customers interact with the screens, enable buyers to explore product details, participate in surveys, take quizzes, learn ways to use or wear a product, and point them to the right products to buy.
SMB retailers should also get more creative with signage in their visual merchandising, and go beyond simply getting customers’ attention, but instead drive more interaction and engagement. One way to do this is to incorporate strong call-to-action messages in your visual merchandising displays. It could be simple, like a sign that says, ‘Try Me On’ or ‘Pick Me Up’. This strengthens sales by piquing customers curiosity and influencing their actions, inspiring them to interact with your product displays.
The aim of visual merchandising is not to fill shelves with more products. Strive always to be more thoughtful in how you approach displaying products, much like a fine craftsman who handpicks materials (think products) and then creates beautiful visual displays that speak to your customers’ desires. This is where your data-driven knowledge about your customers’ tastes and lifestyle choices is so important.
Viewing your merchandising technique from your customer’s perspective will also open up ideas for cross-merchandising, or identifying products in your store that would go well as a bundle, and putting them together in a single display. However, don’t create clutter. Remember, when it comes to your retail merchandising strategy, less is more. Consumers today are already bombarded with information overload. Reducing the clutter in retail displays will actually help your customers to make a decision. Otherwise, you risk inflicting cognitive overload, or confusion, which will hurt conversions.
Set up with your window display
A great window display is like a magnet—attracting traffic to your store and that will automatically boost conversions. SMB retailers should use their window displays to tell a specific story about their product assortment and brand, and to give a taste of what in-store experiences await customers who venture inside. Once you have picked out the key products you want to feature in your display, make sure you position them at eye-level or close to it.
Keep your aisles fresh
Ever notice how large retailers interrupt their long aisles with a central space, breaking up the monotony for customers walking down a long line of products? Smaller retailers use this technique too. Create visual breaks in the middle of long aisles wherever you may have those in your store. Use these spaces to set up interactive technology displays, or stations where shoppers can try before they buy products, or even just a well merchandised selection of products that go together.
We began by talking about the importance of customer data to inform your merchandising choices. But once your visual merchandising is live, it’s important to also gather data to optimize your efforts. The sales per category metric is most important here, because it shows which types of products are bringing in the most revenue, and points to your most popular products. Once you have data on the categories that consistently outsell others, you can optimize your visual merchandising to feature those products more prominently.