October 23, 2017

Look at Me, Look at Me! – You Just Want Attention

Top Tips on Visual Merchandising
by Julie Kaupert

With all the visual stimulation people are bombarded by on a daily basis, it’s no wonder our attention span can be compared to that of a gnat. But you want more than attention; you want their heart, their loyalty, their patronage. You want them to bring something home with them–now–and maybe a few things not on their list. Here are some tricks on how to garner more than three seconds from shoppers.

Do Make a Scene – Where Does Stuff Go?

Arrange merchandise to maximize conversations and create a family portrait scene. Too many retailers tend to put all their best stuff right up front at the door. This creates two problems, one, if you put all your eggs in one basket right off the bat, what else does the customer have to look forward to inside your store? Of course, you should have one or two hot items in your window or at the front of your store to entice people. But, spread your best-sellers throughout the store so they are constantly finding new and great things. This keeps the interest rolling and they look even deeper to see what other nuggets or gems they’ll find as they progress. Think of it as a treasure hunt; dropping clues throughout to get to the pot of gold, and hey, they’ll find some silver and bronze along the way.

Second, shoppers will miss out on great items because they are thrown a bunch of goodies all at once. Their eyes will only focus on certain things in the window, and leave the rest behind. Once they’ve entered your store, now they’ve missed out on important pieces they won’t see anywhere else.

Focal points within a family portrait are very important as they give a starting place for the eye to zone in on, and then open up to everything else around it. Based on simple design principles, you want to keep your focal item preferably at eye-level–not necessarily centered in the setting. An off-balance layout creates a visually stimulating scene as your eye becomes drawn into the organized chaos of the picture. Similarly, a symmetrical design will generate a calming feeling of serenity in a perfectly-balanced mini-store. Use lighting, negative space and foliage placement (or whatever you have access to) to help draw the eye into your focal product. That’s the hook–once you’ve secured that level of attention, shoppers will naturally discover the surrounding items on their own.

All in the Family – Product Placement Using the Buddy System

Going back to the idea of a family portrait scene, it helps to place items together that complement, not compete, with each other. For instance, the en route travel line blends well with the Oh So Pretty! beauty kits. En route covers all the little travel necessities to pick-up before a trip, or to grab in an emergency while you’re on the road. The Oh So Pretty! beauty kits can also be considered travel-sized (and/or everyday), and cater more to a person’s beautification needs, as opposed to fix-it or functional purposes. Lastly, the pastel solids of en route won’t fight with the colorful paisley patterns of Oh So Pretty! It’s a win-win! Thanks to Donna Moore of TMA for this suggestion.

Another dynamic duo is Hello Mello and KOZIKICKS–for obvious reasons–but try also placing Fashion Smart Pill & Vitamin Cases and Sage & Emily items in the same vicinity. Big picture portrait–lounging, sleep, travel. Lead shoppers into another realm of the store that focuses on a different aspect, perhaps bath and beauty by placing a Sage & Emily item on the outskirt, and then introduce the rest of the line in the next scene. Create the coveted store within a store feel by following these principles. Experiment with your own concoctions regarding product placement. Change is good!

Create Customer Confusion – Location, location, location!

By drafting and executing a complete overhaul, or reset, of your store every season, you force shoppers to walk your entire space. Grocery stores and supermarkets have been doing this successfully for years. “You don’t put the milk right next to the eggs,” said David Marks, DM Merchandising owner and founder. Keeping a fresh new look to your store creates consumer awareness and responsiveness, allowing you to stand out among the crowd of not only other retail spaces, but online stores as well.

Plus, by changing things up, you create a fresh new outlook for your employees and yourself. Not only do shoppers get bored with a store’s layout, but so do your workers. This constant change also helps move the less-attended to or less-frequented merchandise more quickly. “No one wants to buy something with dust on it, even if it is a hot item” Marks said. When you do your resets, be sure to clean and dust shelves and other fixtures to keep them looking new.

What’s Your Flow? In-store Traffic Control

Can you direct traffic in your store? Of course, aside from permanent fixtures such as walls or metal beams. When you change up your store, don’t necessarily use the same spaces over and over.  Make observations. Watch how people naturally tend to move through your store, and go with that energy.  Use lighting, carpets and furniture to dictate how shoppers navigate the space. Be sure to not clutter too much on the fringes, as this may result in higher breakage and/or theft rates. Use clean lines to direct your well-thought-out path in order to tell your story.

Map out how you want your customers think, feel and react in any given moment. It’s very important to literally draw out how you think your store should flow. Then think logically and practically about what you’ve created. Does it make sense? Do the items relate to each other in some fashion? Or is each scene placed haphazardly? One family portrait should seamlessly flow into another with the help of crossover items–as in the Sage & Emily example earlier.

However, you should place a few speed bumps in along the way. Meaning if each section of your store is too perfectly seamless, shoppers’ eyes tend to glaze-over and some items will be missed. Every so often, you need to create a visual break that sparks attention. This can come from an unexpected unique display, a completely ensembled mannequin or signage to announce something about your store or an item. Keep in mind, you should not fill every inch of space you have. Breathing room is very important and gives customers a break from the constant stimuli. It can help to have someone else take a look at your layout and storyboards to get a fresh perspective on what you are proposing.

In essence, breathe new life into your retail space by taking a step back and really looking at what you’ve got from a shopper’s point of view. Embrace the concept of near-constant change and notice the positive results you’ll see in your customers and in your bottom line.

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