Visual Merchandising – the fine art of presentation and display – is one of the most important pieces in running a retail store, yet it is often one of the most neglected. Visual Merchandising is an art, but it is also a science with specific, easy-to-implement formulas to help build foot traffic and sell more merchandise.
A LITTLE STORE PLANNING
In each makeover, our first mission was to set fixtures in a pattern that allowed for maximum traffic flow. Your store layout will determine how customers will shop the store, and it very often is affected by the shape and size of your sales floor. Each of the makeover stores utilized the “Free Flow” layout on their sales floors because it offers multiple opportunities to highlight merchandise and create display vignettes. This layout has no set aisles, so customers roam the store freely. Fixtures are angled to easily move customers throughout the store, exposing them to merchandise displays at every turn.
OUTSIDE LOOKING IN
Even with the perfect floor plan, it’s important to note that Visual Merchandising begins even before the customer enters your front door. Stand outside your front door – are your windows a good representation of what the customer will find inside? Front windows must be clean, uncluttered, and have a simple message. They are not meant to be an historical museum of signs for community events that have already taken place. Customers will typically take just a five-second glance at what’s in your windows, so if yours are filled with complicated displays, or too many signs, most customers will never see your message.
FIRST 10 SECONDS
First impressions – first perceptions – are formed within the customer’s first 10 seconds inside your store. How does yours stack up? What does it say to customers? Customers enter the store at the same speed they had in the parking lot. This means that many customers are rushed and distracted when they walk in your door, so you need to offer them the opportunity to slow down from walking speed to shopping speed. That’s why you need a small Decompression Zone and carefully placed and merchandised Speed Bump displays.
The Decompression Zone (DZ) is the first 5’ to 15’ just inside the store – the amount of space depends on the size of your store. Your DZ needs to be uncluttered, inviting, and easy to navigate. This means that shopping carts and baskets and floor signs need to be placed at the end of the Decompression Zone or customers will walk right by them.
SPEED BUMP DISPLAYS
Speed Bump displays are the work horse of the front of your store; they set the tone for what shoppers will find inside. Located just beyond the DZ, Speed Bump displays work much the same way as speed bumps in parking lots work: they slow customers down so that they do not miss important merchandise in the front of the store.
We spent a considerable amount of time in each of our mini-remodels re-working the front of the stores and the Speed Bump displays. Stacking tables are great Speed Bump fixtures because they are easy to work with and hold enough products to show a merchandise story.
FRONT RIGHT POWER WALL
Another important area that creates a first impression is the front right Power Wall. To find yours, stand at the end of the DZ, just before your Speed Bump display and look to the right – that’s your Power Wall. It’s one of the first things customers see as they turn right, and in too many stores, it’s just another wall used to house basic merchandise. The front right Power Wall should be used to showcase new items; to tell product stories; and to display high-demand, high profit items.
Your Speed Bump displays and front right Power Walls need to be completely re-merchandised at least once a month; every other week is even better. After re-working these fixtures this week, customers spent more time perusing the aisles. And it was fun to see the retailer’s faces light up when customers immediately responded to the “new” merchandise displayed at the front of the store. It’s amazing what little changes will do for your sales floor!
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