Pretty Enough to Buy: The Art of Visual Merchandising


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Some of the most important skills a retail salesperson can develop are their visual merchandising skills. A creative and skilled retailer can use the art of visual merchandising to breathe new life into a store and the products therein.

So what is visual merchandising? Visual merchandising is the art of presenting products in an aesthetically pleasing fashion, presenting them in a way that makes people want to purchase the product(s) on display.

In many retail establishments, visual merchandising consists not only of the presentation of items on the store shelves themselves, but also on displays such as window displays, counter displays, main aisle tables, end-caps (the displays on either end of an aisle), and special showcase displays such as armoires and feature walls.

There are a number of visual merchandising tricks. Below, you'll find a few.


Color is one of the most powerful tools in the visual merchandising toolbox and should be used to full advantage. Colors can be associated with emotions, seasons, holidays, special occasions and gender, among other things. What Halloween display would be complete without orange and black or what Christmas display without red and green (or, alternatively, silver and gold)?

Using color, you can evoke a theme with even the most generic of items. Take towels, for example. Is it possible to create a Valentine's Display using only towels? Sure. Although towels are never going to be the most romantic of display items, by choosing rich red towels and mixing them with pinks and whites, you can certainly evoke the mood of the holiday, particularly if you have the opportunity to cross-merchandise with such items as heart-shaped soaps and scented bath beads.

Someone looking for a baby gift would certainly be drawn to a display that's done entirely in pink and blue, because these colors - even without any help - speak to the customer, telling them a tale about the display before they've even studied the products.


Sometimes specific signage is required, sent down from a corporate office. But if not, signage is equally important to the display, both in wording and visuals. Don't skimp on color, even for signs. And sometimes, even when particular signs are mandatory, it pays to ask. I found that often if I promised to keep the integrity of the wording, my manager would give me free reign to reprint signs using my own choice of fonts, colors and graphics.

With the variety of easy-to-use publishing software available these days, creating your own signage is simple. Programs such as Microsoft Publisher, Print Shop, Microsoft PictureIt! Publishing, etcetera, are simple to learn, and come with an extensive selection of graphics and font choices. Even word processing software can be easily used to create signs and banners. With a simple change of font, color, and font size, you can make an eye-catching sign.


It's vital to have themes for your displays. Random is a no-no in the visual merchandising world. Your displays should speak to your customer.

Themes can be simple. A theme can be simply sale items in similar categories - bath items, for example. Themes can also be as specific as you'd like.

Themes capture people's imaginations. Themes can be whimsical, practical, romantic or wacky. Themes are only limited by your imagination and creativity.

Don't be afraid to be bold with themes. Dare to be different. For example, a display of mystery books is great, but a display of mystery books that feature cats prominently, makes for a much more creative display.

Cross merchandising:

Try using merchandise from different areas of the store if possible. Displays present a wonderful opportunity to introduce shoppers to areas of the store that they might not have ventured into otherwise. If you're doing a display of gardening items, go ahead and include hand creams geared specifically toward gardeners, books on gardening, or children's toys such as butterfly nets or bug catchers.


Something too easily overlooked, cleanliness is the foundation of a good display. Wood should be dusted and polished. Plexiglass holders need to be washed on a regular basis, and shelves should be dusted and/or wiped down.

Don't forget to replace broken display pieces. Nothing ruins a beautiful display like a cracked plexiglass sign holder.


Neatness goes hand in hand with cleanliness. Customers pick through displays, and this is a good thing. You want hands to touch your merchandise. Someone who picks an item up to examine is much more likely to put it in their cart and purchase it. So be sure to straighten your displays on a regular basis, neatening stacks and refolding items that require folding.

For stackable items, forming a pyramid is recommended, with the highest piles in the center and shorter piles radiating out in order of height.

Change is good:

Change displays often. Don't forget about your regular customers, the ones that come in faithfully week after week. Changing displays often can spark new interest in your products for those people who are in the store on a regular basis.


Get the staff in on it. Creativity varies so much from person to person and a fresh set of ideas can breathe new life into a visual merchandising scheme. Even new staff are usually eager to help come up with new displays - and not only will you potentially open yourself to new and unique ideas, but this is a great way to create a sense of ownership and teamwork in your staff.

Putting it all together:

A lot of visual merchandising is, at heart, play. It takes time to get displays right. It takes a willingness to play around with the products and the signs until it looks good, because ultimately, making the products look attractive is what visual merchandising strives for.

Don't be afraid to be creative. Visual merchandising thrives on creativity. These displays can be the heart and soul of a business. After all, if your items are pretty enough to buy, they'll keep your customers coming back for more.

Lisa worked for a number of years at a major book retailer, where visual merchandising was one of her specialties. This article has been submitted in affiliation with http://www.Facsimile.Com/ which is a site for Fax Machines .


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