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How to Use Visual Merchandising to Increase In-Store Sales

Struggling to draw in foot traffic? Check out our five quick and easy visual merchandising tips to improve your in-store shopping experience and increase sales.

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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.

What is 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:

  • Window installations
  • In-store displays
  • Point-of-sale merchandising
  • Seasonal displays
  • Mannequin styling

But there are also more subtle things too that you may not realize draw folks in:

  • Shelving
  • Posters
  • Price tickets

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?

What Are the Benefits of Visual Merchandising?

Visual merchandising is a key tool for engaging customers and presenting your products in a visually appealing way. It allows you to attract customers using eye-catching displays and products that are presented in an aesthetically pleasing layout.

With many of the challenges facing retail stores, standing out from the crowd is essential in today’s retail environment.

Top 6 Retail Visual Merchandising Tips

With under ten seconds to make an impression, the focal points of your visual merchandising strategy should be color, levels, and spacing. 

1. Use Color Palette Tools When Arranging Merchandise

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. 

A sample color pallet for organizing merchandise.

2. Group Products By Use

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. 

An example of organizing merchandise based on similar use cases.
Photo Credit: Tulsa World

3. Use Levels for More Interesting Visual Merchandising 

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. 

Photo Credit: Walters Seeds

4. Invest in Showstopping Mirror Installations 

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. 

5. Use a Hotspot as the Focal Point of Your Visual Merchandising

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. 

Photo Credit: Retail Design

6. Increase Retail Foot Traffic Using SMS Marketing

While visual merchandising is a powerful tool for increasing sales and better representing your brand to potential customers, it is most effective with in person customers. Use SMS marketing to invite customers to sales, notify them of new product releases, and provide them with news and updates about your business.

Combining visual merchandising with text message marketing, can bring customers to your store and then engage them once they arrive.

The Wrap on Retail Visual Merchandising

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.

Meghan Tocci
Meghan Tocci

Meghan Tocci is a content strategist at SimpleTexting. When she’s not writing about SaaS, she’s trying to teach her puppy Lou how to code. So far, not so good.

More Posts from Meghan Tocci
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