Winning Footfall: Using Visual Merchandising to Attract Customers

07 Aug 2014

The term visual merchandising is defined as everything seen by the customer, from advertisements and prints to the interior decor and layout. The aim of visual merchandising is to promote a positive image of the organisation — to spark the interest of the potential customer by making the product or service attractive and, above all else, encouraging them to act and generate a ‘need to buy’.

Careful thought needs to go into visual merchandising to ensure customers are attracted to the business in the most desirable way. In a retail store, for example, consultation may be necessary to determine the best possible layout and style of the displays. Usually research will be undertaken, or referred to, to determine which strategies are most effective. Often staff will be employed specifically to ensure visual design of the store maintains the overall brand image of the company, overseeing the sensory, cognitive and affective pleasure of the consumer.

The exterior visual merchandising should work by providing a small taster of what customers can expect — communicating corporate identity, style and the general ethos of the organisation.

In terms of the interior visual merchandising, it is important for there to be a consistent theme throughout. Confusing designs and layouts should be avoided at all costs as these will immediately act as a barrier for the customer. Some examples of best practice for visual merchandising include the following.

Exterior Presentations

As the main determinant for customers, the storefront must be presented with exceptional quality. It needs to be designed to create a level of interest that will both excite and intrigue the customer, encouraging them to enter the store.

Exterior Signs

The exterior presentation should be varied using signs and banners that can be changed frequently. Changes to the exterior presentation will give the impression that there are also changes to the interior and new things to see, drawing customers into the store.

Window Display

Window displays can be a highly effective way to deliver information to the customer. A spectacular display can communicate a number of different messages.

Lighting and Colour

Emotions are heavily linked to light and colour. There is a lot of research into this area of visual merchandising. A new colour scheme can effectively change people’s perception and attitudes towards the store — for the better or worse. Colour and lighting can be used to set the mood, and as well as altering the overall appearance of the store, can be utilised to give a display a specific feel and style.

Lighting can draw attention to merchandise and may be coordinated throughout the store to direct the way customers move around the space and the order in which they encounter displays.

Retail Graphics

The use of effective retail graphics can really help to communicate your brand consistently and confidently. If you’d like some examples of how investing into your visual merchandising can benefit your business, take a look at how Mettrick’s (Southampton’s independent coffee shop) transformed their identity.