Tips and Advice

What is visual merchandising and why is it so important?

3 August 2021 / per Cerdá Group

That’s why Cerdá wanted to deepen the topic and provide you with all the information you need to know about visual merchandising, its elements, and its importance.

What is visual merchandising?

Visual merchandising can be defined as the set of practices and strategies that you as an entrepreneur can implement to make your products attractive for your customers, exploiting the various elements that you can have at your disposal (see the paragraph below). However, this is only a superficial definition of visual merchandising, because there’s a lot more.

The definition we’ve just given shouldn’t make you think only about the shop windows setting. This is part of visual merchandising, but visual merchandising is far more than that. If you want to exploit the marketing strategies of visual merchandising at their best, your comprehension should go deeper.

With visual merchandising, products want to attract the customers’ attention to themselves. In a way, it’s items and products selling themselves. How can you achieve that?

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Your aim with visual merchandising should be to create a bond with the customer, and you can only create this bond if the items and the way they’re displayed have an emotional impact on them. This is actually the best definition of visual merchandising: the set of strategies and practices that you exploit to create a bond between the customers and your items through an emotional and sensorial impact.

The customer and the item are the two subjects of this relationship; but, to create this relationship, there must be some spark that triggers the attention of the potential client. Such spark must be emotional. This is how visual merchandising goes beyond the displaying of your product: it must begin with research. Get to know your clients, their needs, answer to those needs and then find a way to show it to them.

Benefits of visual merchandising

Both retail stores and e-commerce can benefit from visual merchandising.

1.  It engages your customers

An attractive shop window, store, or home page on e-commerce makes a positive first impression. It welcomes people and encourages them to come into the store and find what they need, or didn’t know they need.

2.  It creates a positive shopping experience

When you’re selling goods you’re also providing a service. The quality of the service has an impact on the perception of the client. When they have a positive shopping experience in your store, they are more likely to recommend it to their friends and come back. Visual merchandising helps you create such a positive experience: as a consequence, other than attracting new clients, it helps building customer loyalty, and elevate the quality perception that they have about your business.

3.  It helps grow sales

Visual merchandising helps increase sales. With an effective visual merchandising strategy, you can highlight your items’ quality and show people what they need and how your products can help them without them even asking.

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4. It helps identify your brand

When you run a business you want to build an identity for your brand. This should be a priority of your marketing strategy, and visual merchandising is - in this case - a tool you can use - with others - to build and affirm your brand identity.

Elements of visual merchandising

The elements of visual merchandising are those aspects and tools that you can exploit to display your items and create that emotional impact we’ve mentioned above. These are:

  • Colors: the first impact on the human mind is always visual, so colors are one of the most important elements at your disposal. Colors communicate mind statuses and emotions, so be sure that the colors you’re using are consistent with your brand and the message you want to communicate.
  • Lighting: lights are also a part of the visual impact your items, shop window, and entire store have on your customers.
  • Texture: you should display your items in a way that creates a certain rhythm, using contrast and creating empty and full spaces. Do you want your customers to feel overwhelmed or relaxed? The texture is what can convey such messages in the most effective way.
  • Packaging: you can exploit packaging to elevate your products.

    Other than various elements, there are also several strategies you can exploit to grab your customers’ attention in a more effective way:

    • Create a focal point: don’t let your customers’ attention wander around. To grab it all, it must be focused on one point. Decide where you want to focus your clients’ attention and focus on that point. All that surrounds the focal point should direct the person’s attention to the focal point itself.
    • Landscape: since the visual impact is so important, creating a landscape is one of the most effective ways to capture customers’ attention. It also elevates your products, making them more noticeable.

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    • Storytelling: nothing is capable of engaging people’s attention like a story. When your items’ display tells a story, your chances of grabbing passers-by and clients’ attention grows exponentially.

At this point, we don’t want you to think that visual merchandising is limited to your windows setting. For this reason, let’s clarify that visual merchandising is referred to:

  • Window display: windows are the most traditional and effective way to show off your items and lure people into the store.
  • Shelf display: when people enter a shop, their focus goes on its shelves at once. You should have a strategy about what you want to show on your shield and how: how much full or empty space you want? What are the first and last things your customers will see? What is most easily reachable and what is out of reach on the highest shelves?
  • Stock displays: they are usually used to grab the attention of promotions and offers.

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The future of visual merchandising

The future of visual merchandising is looking at e-commerce. Does it still make sense to talk about visual merchandising when more and more people every day buy online, and as many stores are becoming online businesses?

Yes, we still need to talk about visual merchandising. Because the same principles we’ve discussed so far are valid for e-commerce. The tools at your disposal are the only thing that changes. You don’t have shelves and the person walking through your store door and lanes.

But colors, lights, storytelling is still important to create an impact on your customers. And the emotional impact is even more important online because online competition is even higher.

So, the future of visual merchandising is looking at ways of applying its principles to virtual stores and studying how to display items and their descriptions on a smartphone, or computer’s display.

Now that you know everything about visual merchandising, it’s time to apply these principles to your own business, retailer, or e-commerce.

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