The Influence of Visual Merchandising on the Unplanned Shopping

The Influence of Visual Merchandising on the Unplanned Shopping

Shubham Anil Jain
Sr. Consultant
Cent Edge Solutions LLP, Bangalore, India


Currently, we are in the dynamic world of retail, where consumers are blasted with different kinds of choices, so here visual merchandising plays a very important role in shaping shopping habits and behavior. It is found that, one of the fascinating phenomena in the retail world is unplanned shopping, where customers tends to do an on the spot purchases that were not initially on their shopping preferences. This article basically explores the huge influence of visual merchandising aspects on unplanned shopping and how retailers strategically use this phenomenon to improve the overall shopping experience.

Understanding Unplanned Shopping:
Unplanned shopping, also simply called as impulse buying, which basically refers to the instinctive purchase of products that a customer did not plan initially to purchase before entering the store. It generally occurs when consumers are attracted by the visual aspects of products, displays, or promotions, which force them to make on-the-spot decisions. Unplanned shopping gives significantly to retailers’ revenue and profitability, which makes it a critical aspect of the retail business.

Visual Merchandising on the Unplanned Shopping

How Visual Merchandising has Influence on the Unplanned Shopping:
Visual merchandising is simply considered as the art and science of showcasing products in such a way that attracts consumer interest and force them to make shopping of that product. It involves various aspects of visual merchandising like, the strategic arrangement of products, displays, signage, lighting, and other visual elements within a retail environment. Effective visual merchandising creates a compatible and visually engaging environment that manages shoppers on both conscious and subconscious levels.

In another words, visual merchandising is a kind of marketing practice that engages various points like, floor plans, colour, lighting, displays, technology, and other elements to simply appeal customer attention. Its ultimate objective is to use the retail space to generate more and number sales by making a store stand out from crowd and attracting shoppers.

Following are some of the factors of visual merchandising that influence consumers for unplanned shopping

1. Store Layout and Design:
It is seen that, the layout and design of the retail space, truly has influence of visual merchandising on unplanned shopping in guiding customers through their shopping experience. Accurate and correct placement of aisles, proper product displays, and focal points can capture the attention of customers and try to motivate them for exploration. This strategy simply involves the elevation of products as ‘prime offerings’ to make them stand out with the help of correct layout. It gives retailers creative as well as freedom as they can work with three dimensions that is lateral, longitudinal, and vertical.

2. Window Displays:
The very primary rule of visual merchandising in retail sector is that your window displays must be very innovative, extra ordinary, and attractive. The more attractive they are, the more consumers you have. Spending lot of time and energy in designing your window displays may seem to be an extra task, but it’s undoubtedly a good idea. It is found that, creative and unique kinds of displays develop an interesting visual story and randomly catch people’s focus in the streets. In other words, window displays acts as the first point of medium between the store and potential customers. An eye-catching and attractive window display can build curiosity and tends people into the store, setting the high chances for unplanned shopping. So, this aspect definitely has influence of visual merchandising on unplanned shopping.

3. Color Psychology:
This element of visual merchandising on the unplanned shopping of customers. As we know that, colors have a major impact on emotions and decision-making process. Visual merchandisers tend to play with different colours and try to use color psychology to generate specific feelings and moods that can influence consumers on the purchasing habits.

In other words, bright signage text colors like orange and red are generally being used to appeal the eyes and amaze shoppers, while it is also found that some luxury brands use dull colors to highlight sophistication. One can also try colors to make different products stand out from the crowd. For instance, you can place a product in a neutral hue in front of a strong background to attract attention of the customers.

4. Lighting:
Proper lighting also has the influence on the unplanned shopping. It tends to enhance the visibility and attractiveness of items. Well-lit displays develop a good vibrant and appealing atmosphere, while strategic focusing can highlight particular items, motivating impulse buys.

You can simply play around with various types of lighting to influence your store’s atmosphere. If you want to highlights some of the new products or sale items, you can simply use accent lights to attract customers’ attention. Accent lights especially work good in retail stores that particularly deals with luxury items. It is fact that, the lighting brings the visual merchandising in retail to life and spotlights the features of your products.

5. Product Placement:
The proper arrangement of products within the store also influence the customers on the unplanned shopping. By placing the complementary items together or strategically keeping the high-margin products can encourage customers to go for unplanned purchases.

The Psychology behind Unplanned Shopping:

1. Emotional Appeal:
It is seen that, visual merchandising influence into the emotional aspects of consumer decision-making process. With the help of managing displays that highlights positive emotions, like joy or excitement, can trigger unplanned buying behavior.

2. Scarcity and Urgency:
By developing a sense of scarcity or urgency with the aid of visual cues, like limited-time promotions or super exclusive deals, can guide consumers to make unplanned shopping to avoid missing out.

3. Storytelling:
Attractive visual merchandising helps in telling a story regarding the products, brand, or lifestyle which is connected with the items on display. It is analyzed that consumers are more likely to make unplanned shopping when they co-relate with the narrative presented in-store.

Successful Visual Merchandising Strategies of Some Brands:

a) Apple Inc.
Apple’s retail stores are famous due to their minimalist design and well strategic product placement. With the help of sleek displays and communal product demonstrations develops an environment where consumers are motivated to explore and make unplanned shopping.

b) Zara
It is found that, Zara’s fast-fashion model totally depends on frequent product rotations and visually attracting displays. Short time collections and important placement of trendy items capitalize on consumers’ desire for the latest fashion trends, leading to unplanned shopping.

Strategic Use of Technology in Visual Merchandising:

a) Augmented Reality (AR) Displays:
Currently, many retailers are merging AR displays to allow customers to see the products in real-time. This kind of interactive method enhances the shopping experience and can definitely influence unplanned shopping.

b) Digital Signage:
With the help of dynamic digital signage, it helps retailers to modify the displays rapidly, marketing new products or time-sensitive offers. Because of this flexibility of digital signage, it tends to capture the attention of consumers and motivates unplanned shopping.

In conclusion, it is undeniable that there is influence in the contemporary retail landscape. Retailers strategically employ various elements of visual merchandising to create a fascinating environment that involves consumer interest and drives on the spot purchases. As technology tends to continuously evolve, the incorporation of innovative tools and techniques further improves the impact of visual merchandising on unplanned shopping. Also, understanding the psychology behind consumer purchasing habits and staying updated with the market trends are essential for retailers seeking to maximize their visual merchandising strategies and capitalize on the potential of unplanned shopping.


  1. AjithK. Thomas, Reni Louise, Vipinkumar VP, The Impact of Visual Merchandising, on Impulse Buying Behavior of Retail Customers
  2. 2.Arshdeep Kaur, Dr. Ruchi Jain, The Impact Of Visual Merchandising On Impulse Buying Behaviour In Organised Retail Stores
  3. Kandarp Singh, RituparnaBasu, Visual Merchandising and Impulse Buying Intention Investigating Consumers of Sports Products
  4. YolandéHefer, Michael. C. Cant, Visual Merchandising Displays’ Effect On Consumers: A Valuable Asset Or An Unnecessary Burden For Apparel Retailers


Q1. What are the five purposes of visual merchandising?
Ans: In the realm of retail visual marketing, five key elements are crucial in shaping the in-store retail display. These include the store image, store layout, store exterior display, store interior display, and brand story.

Q2. What is the basic principle of visual merchandising?
Ans: Visual Merchandising should be rooted in your brand identity and support what your brand stands for. The store (both physical and digital) is a core customer touch-point – and therefore the ideal playing field for your brand to interact with your customer.

Q3. What is visual merchandising techniques?
Ans: Examples of visual merchandising include signage, store layout, lighting, color schemes, product positioning, digital displays, and almost anything your customers can see. While visual merchandising does make your store and products look better, its end goal is to build the brand, grow market share, and increase sales.

Q4. What are the factors affecting customer shopping behaviour?
Ans: Personal factors, such as your occupation, age and life cycle stage, economic situation, lifestyle, and personality and self-concept also play a major role in your buying behaviour.

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