Visual Merchandising: Objectives, Tools and Techniques

Last Updated on 05/10/2022


Moin.S Khan1 & Adhijeet.A.dhoke2
DKTE’s Textile and Engineering Institute,
Ichalkaranji, Maharashtra, India
Email: moinkhn024@gmail.com1


What is Visual Merchandising?
Visual merchandising is everything the customer sees, both exterior and interior, that creates a positive image of business and results in attention, interest, desire and action on the part of the customer. Visual merchandising is a perception of sellers guiding them to arrange his merchandise look more attractive for a customer. The job on visual merchandising is made the store attractive for customers. Eighty percent of our impressions are created by sight that is why one picture is worth thousand words. Each customer has a mental image of its store and merchandise. A store should have an inviting appearance that makes the customer feel comfortable and eager to buy.

Visual Merchandising

Objective of visual merchandise is a desire to attract customers to a place of business in order to sell the merchandise. It is offered to the customer through exterior and interior presentations. The evolution from the customer perspective should start from exterior and work completely through the interior of the store. To sum up visual merchandising helps in maintaining the overall image of a retail store in “consumers” mind. Apart from retail identity building visual merchandising is regarded as a powerful tool in shaping consumers final decision to buy in store. Visual merchandising focuses on various aspects of consumer which include sensory pleasure, effective pleasure and cognitive pleasure.

Essential of Visual Merchandising

  • Interior Floor Design and Display.
  • Space Design and Signage.
  • Fixtures and Hardware.
  • Window Display.
  • Advertising Materials

Tools Use for Visual Merchandising

  1. Audio-Visual Displays.
  2. Decoration and Props.
  3. Mannequins
  4. Signage and Graphics

The presentation in visual merchandising falls into two categories mainly:

  1. Exterior Presentations
  2. Interior Presentations

A. Exterior Presentations
The quality of a store front is a major determinant for a customer, particularly a new customer, and should not be underestimated. The exterior appearance of one store, a block businesses or a cluster, silently announce what customers can expect inside. Good exterior visual merchandising attracts attention, creates interest and invites the customer into business. Exterior presentation can offer lavish, conservative, progressive or discount image.

Exterior Signs
A sign is a silent salesperson, and part of a shopper first impression of a store. In less than 10sec the sign must attract attention, tell what the business is and what it intends to sell. Simple, brief, well designed, well lettered and easy to read signs will convey a feeling of welcome. Design graphics appropriate for the nature of the business, and create a message that is clear and simple. Focus on one or two key words to describe the business. A clean, clear message will have more impact. A store sign is its “signature”. It is personal, original and continuously recognizable to the public. It should create an image that is consistently carried throughout the existence of store.

A new and interesting appearance can be offered by changing the banners frequently. Consumers will think exciting changes are taking place in store an will be drawn in the stores. Banners are used increasingly as an inexpensive but colorful, eye catching means of promotion. Banners can be hung up from flagpoles, projected from the building or flat against the exterior. To provide continuity the same banner design, reduced in size and scale, can be hung from the marquee and displayed inside the store. However do not over use banners. Then they might be overlooked by the consumers. You can use this banner maker.

Window Display
Special emphasis should be placed on a stores window displays because they are the information link to the potential customer. Window displays can be as important, if not more important than advertising. As many as four sales could be the result of a good window display. Window display should attract attention, create interest and invite people into the store to purchase goods. There is less than 11 seconds to accomplish this, as that is an average amount of the time an individual will spend looking at a window display. Be careful not to crowd too much merchandise into a window, as customers will find it difficult to understand the message and what items are being promoted. It is important to change the displays frequently in small towns where customers pass by several times a week. New displays indicate new up-to-date merchandise is available.

window display

Landscaping should lead the customer’s eye to the focal point using color and texture to provide contrast and harmony. The focal point is the business sign and/or the building itself. Landscaping can also screen undesirable sights such as garbage receptacles, power transformers and refrigeration equipment. The essence of good landscaping is simplicity, simple landscape designs that are easy to maintain. For e.g. Uninterrupted expanses of grass are easier to maintain than areas cut up by several small beds of flowers or shrubs. Plants especially flowering bedding plants enhances the overall look of the store.

B. Interior Presentations
Selling space is the most important part of a store and therefore efforts to utilize each square foot will help to maximize sales. One proven way to do this is through interior displays that effectively show merchandise to the customer. When planning interior displays, remember that the theme and image presented on the exterior must be carried throughout the interior of the store to provide consistency for the customer. The purpose of the interior display is to develop desire for the merchandise, show what is available, and encourage both impulse and planned buying.

Three goals of store are-

  • Motivate the customer to spend money
  • Protect the image of the store
  • Keep expenses to minimum

As an illustration, researchers found that 64.8% of all the purchase decision were made inside a supermarket. Most people indicated they purchased the item because they saw it displayed. 67% of liquor purchased from the liquor shop is impulse items. Combining advertising and display into an integrated promotional campaign will usually be more effective.

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Color and Lighting
Color contributes significantly to people’s impression of a display as well as stores overall appearance. Color in a display can catch eye and make people pause and look. The color combination of ceiling, walls, floor covering and the overall décor can affect the atmosphere of a store. Changing the color scheme can change people’s attitudes and perceptions of a store and can increase or decrease the business. Color can change the shape and interest to dull room, and can direct attention toward a specific object or away from problem areas. Warm colors (red, yellow, orange etc.) are stimulating and cheery. They make room feel warm and intimate. They make room look smaller and object inside larger.

Emotional response to color:

ColorEmotional Response
BlueA cool color (makes room seem cooler). Calms and relaxes excited people. Makes time seem to pass quickly. Tens to stimulate thought processes and encourage conversation.
GreenEasy on the eyes. A cool color. Restful and tranquil. Stimulates conversations. Makes time seem to pass quickly.
RedExcites and stimulates. Induces aggression Makes time seem to pass more slowly.
YellowA cheerful color. Creates a feeling of warmth and happiness. Draws attention. Boosts Morale.
OrangeFriendly, war and vibrant. Exhilarating.
Violet and PurpleA cool color. Tends to lend elegance and sophistication. Royal
BrownRelaxing and warm.
GrayDepressing. Cool.

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Lighting is essential in calling attention to merchandise in a display. A shopper’s eye is drawn automatically to the brightest item or area. Lighting treatment may be used to draw attention to the part of display area or to coordinate the parts of total display area. Lighting can also be used to direct the path of the customers and to make them see various displays along the way.

lighting in visual merchandising

There are three types of lighting used:

  1. Primary lighting
  2. Store illumination
  3. Atmosphere lighting

Primary Lighting
Primary lighting is the overall level of illumination of the store using fluorescent or incandescent light sources. Outside, it includes 150 watt bulbs used as basic window lighting, marquee lights illuminating the sidewalks and lighting for generals lobby area. Inside the store primary lighting is that which fills the selling floor from overhead lighting fixtures and provides the bare essentials of store illumination.

Accent or Secondary Lighting
This type of lighting provides illumination for designated display areas. Flat, shadow less, overall lighting can create a tiresome selling floor. Accent lighting provides change from light to dark highlight to shadows to prevent the boredom. This can be accomplished from down lighting from ceiling, showcase lighting and valence lighting (drapery or canopy). Incandescent bulbs are most often used for secondary lighting. They range I size from tiny Christmas trees light to small candle like or complexion bulbs, to full size globe or reflector type bulbs.

Atmosphere Lighting
Atmosphere lighting is used to play light against shadow to create a distinctive effect on specific displays. Generally this category includes the use of color filters, pinpoint spotlights and black lighting to create dramatic effects. Fluorescent lights are used for primary lighting, as they cannot be focused directly on an object. Incandescent lamps have sharply defined beams that are easily directed to highlight the merchandise on display. Spotlights are great for merchandise displays. The angle at which spotlight is directed is very important. Any angle sharper than 45 degree is likely to momentarily blind a shopper. Color filters that change the color of the spotlight are available for spotlights. Gels are colored acetate that can be placed over light bulbs. They are similar to filters but are less expensive. They are available in roll form and can be easily cut to fit the light. High intensity discharge lamps are the most efficient bulbs available because they provide more light per watt. They help in reducing the cost and is also flattering to customer.

lighting in window display

Props and Fixtures
A prop is something used with a product in a display that clarifies the function of the merchandise being sold or the story being told. Props are integral part of a display. They are used in virtual merchandising to tell a story about the product A display prop may be something that is not for sale, such as floor coverings, wall treatments, backgrounds, mannequins, shelves and steps. When using saleable merchandise as prop, be sure it is appropriate for the theme of the display and is sufficient quantity to meet an increase in demand arising from the display.

Props can be items carried in from the woods or prairie, or rustic antiques found in someone’s attic. Examples include a branch from lilac bush for spring summer collection, shocks of wheat, dried leaves, large boulders used to give an idea of strength and power of a tractor, and gray rocks to provide contrast to jewelry. These objects props are generally not beautiful by themselves, but highlight the merchandise for sale. The merchandise in a display must be the dominant element. The prop is there to complement or highlight the salable merchandise and add visual excitement to the surrounding area. A prop is not there to distract customer from their original purpose of shopping for and purchasing goods.

Merchandise and Fixture Display Recommendations
Goods can be effectively displayed on a variety of fixtures such as gondolas, tables, cubes, and mannequins, waterfalls and other racks, display cases. A fixture should not only complement the merchandise but also create an atmosphere in the store. It should act as silent sales person. One of the most common fixtures in store are gondolas; movable shelving approachable from all sides used in self-service retail stores to display merchandise. They can be lined up in stores as grocery or hardware stores.

Errors Commonly Occurring in Display

  • Too much merchandise
  • Too little merchandise
  • Lack of underlying theme
  • Too many props
  • Poorly selected props
  • Display changed to seldom
  • Limited or no display budget
  • Lack of attention to detail

So by the combination of mannequin, lighting and props in a window display and a store highlight can further intensify the decision process where the former affects the affective pleasure of consumers and help them determine the suitability of a store’s retail identity to personal preference, the latter intensifies the sensational feeling of consumers and encourage the tendency to try on or purchase which directly relates to the pre-purchase stage. Thus it can be concluded that visual merchandising play one of the important role in customers’ decision making process.

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