Your store has a whopping seven seconds to make an impression on someone.
If you were singing the national anthem, that would bring you to the end of the line “by the dawn’s early light,” at which point someone has already decided what they think about your shop.
In that period, we imagine a customer can probably take in your window display, front of house merchandise, and assess the number of people inside.
No pressure though, right?
The reality is, the way you present your storefront matters if you want to get people in the door. But if you want people to stay and look around, the secret is in strong visual merchandising.
Visual merchandising is a marketing tactic that attracts customer attention through the creative use of floor layouts, lighting, color, technology, and displays.
Despite making things look “pretty”, the real goal of visual merchandising is to boost sales.
There are some more obvious elements of visual merchandising you may be familiar with:
But there are also more subtle things too that you may not realize draw folks in:
While all your senses should be engaged to provide an optimal shopping experience, the very first thing your customers will take in is the visuals.
So, what can you do to put your best face forward in your retail storefront?
With under ten seconds to make an impression, the focal points of your visual merchandising strategy should be color, levels, and spacing.
If your store doesn’t have an in-house designer or someone specializing in visual merchandising, you may not know how to create a cohesive color palette. There is a psychology to your color choices, so you’ll want to build your foundation off of the mood you hope to elicit.
You can use the free tool Coolers to automatically generate a palate for you, complete with principal and complementary colors. You can also explore trending palates, and receive detailed breakdowns on how to achieve each specific shade.
It’s a habit of many retailers to group products according to size—smaller items together, more oversized, bulkier items separate.
However, this method often results in all the products being jumbled together into an indistinguishable mass that’s easy to glance over.
Instead, it’s advisable to group your products according to their uses to create a visual vignette.
For example, if you sell camping equipment, you can set up a tent, fire pit, folding chairs, and canteens all together to give shoppers the complete picture of everything they need for a camping trip. This also helps with cross-selling, as people are more likely to pick something extra up if it’s marketed alongside something they need.
Another tip to make your store easy to take in is to utilize contrasting heights and depths with your displays. Spacing your products out encourages customers to interact and spend more time looking at them.
For example, fill baskets flanking your tables with easy to sort through items. Have those baskets positioned next to a table where things are fanned out at hip length, making them easy to reach for (no digging through vertical piles). From there, you can place props with smaller accessories on tabletop platforms to function like cake toppers!
The ultimate goal is to ensure visual interest as a customer scans up and down the store. The effect is similar to scanning someone from head to toe to take in their whole outfit.
Even if your retail store doesn’t sell clothing, never underestimate the power of a large, floor-to-ceiling mirror.
Mirrors help your space appear bigger, brighter, and more welcoming. They also contribute to the growing fad of creating “Instagram-friendly” spaces. If customers are flocking to your store to take a photo, not only do you generate more user-generated content, you also see droves of new customers entering your store every day.
In the retail world, a hotspot is the eye-catching element of a product display. You want to have a prominent hotspot that ties the display together. Otherwise, people can be confused about what they’re seeing.
When choosing your hotspot, you want to think like the customer. Can I quickly see your items? Are they too high, too low? Do the visual elements that aren’t for sale stand out more than your main product?
Take the customer perspective when evaluating your visual merchandising displays, and you’ll be surprised how your view changes from what’s visually appealing to what sells.
The art of retail visual merchandising is nuanced, and many companies pay employees hundreds of thousands of dollars just to organize window displays.
But with these tools in mind, anyone can turn an ordinary display into a sophisticated, visual marketing tool.
For more retail marketing tips and ways to improve the customer experience, check out our guide to retail marketing.
Stay up to date on the latest marketing trends, tactics, and strategies when you subscribe to our weekly newsletter.
Learn how the multi-location tanning brand Year Round Brown used texting to inform customers of the biggest sale of the year.Read