Visual merchandising is of utmost importance — if done effectively, you are able to maximize sales. It helps you develop an unique business identity and brand, differentiating yourself from your competition.The best brands understand that visual merchandising produces a form of observational data, one of the three types of retail data used to make data-backed decisions. By tracking the success of your visual merchandising display techniques, you can empower your team to execute more in-store displays and promotions that drive sales and brand visibility.
When designing and implementing a visual merchandising plan, it is important to consider a variety of things. “Who is my target customer?” and “What is my target customer looking for?” “what has worked for me in the past?” are some questions you should be asking yourself. By defining your target customer and identifying their likes, you can tailor your merchandising techniques to fit their tastes.
There are a variety of other facets to visual merchandising, like the color, design, ambience, and themes of the displays. While these are factors to take into consideration, here are four “hard techniques” that are proven to work:
1. Rule of Three
Three is the magic number when creating displays. Not only does it catch the customer’s attention, it helps cement the product display in the customer’s mind. This is why many visual merchandising experts follow and preach the “Rule of Three.”
So when you are arranging products, you want to have sets of three. For example, having three products side by side rather than just one. If grouping by height, have short, medium, and tall. If by width, fat, fatter, and fattest. If you truly want to capture the attention of price-conscious customers, arrange items in order from good, better, and best value to the customer. This allows them to spot the items that have the best value to them quickly and thus make a quick purchase.
The Rule of Three works for all product displays, whether it’s a display for small products or for mannequins.
Photo courtesy of Shopify
This is because it creates asymmetry in the display, drawing the customer’s attention. This is because when people look at symmetrical and balanced objects, their gaze moves away quickly because it seems to be normal; asymmetrical or unbalanced displays are thus “abnormal” and are more interesting to the eye.
Another aspect of this asymmetry is that three is an odd rather than an even number. The off-balance that this odd number creates forces the customer to gaze at the different aspects of the display, focusing on each on separately rather than have their eye take in the whole display at once.
People also tend to remember things that are grouped in threes. This is why many number strings, such as phone numbers and Social Security numbers, are broken down into groups of three (though in this case, followed by a group of four).
2. The Pyramid Principle
The “Pyramid Principle” applies to a triangular merchandise display. You want to place the largest item at the center and have the smallest products on the outside. Thus the other items “step down” from the focal point, like a pyramid. Many department stores use this technique, as it’s proven effective time after time.
This principle also ensures that there’s a variety in surface, which means that the display won’t ever be “flat” or “boring.” This type of display draws the customer in because the products seem to cascade or “tumble” down to the customer.
Photo courtesy of ACMC
3. Price Points
Key products should be highlighted with clear price points on larger signs, which will draw the customer’s attention. If you have a value-oriented customer, you’ll want to advertise the items with the best value or deal so that the customer will walk towards the display; all other products should have small price cards next to them or be priced individually with price stickers.
Photo courtesy of ACMC
4. Data-Driven Retail Execution
When experimenting with a merchandising technique, the way to get the biggest bang for your buck is by ensuring compliance through data-driven tactics. Featured displays can lift CPG sales by an average of 193%, yet less than half of merchandising displays are executed according to plan, lowering the potential for that sales lift significantly. All told, poor retail execution can cost brands as much as 20% of their total retail sales.
Having a data-driven approach to merchandising by keeping track of different campaigns as they progress allows you to monitor the success of your displays and identify any problem areas swiftly.
Additionally, tracking data continuously over time allows your team to see where things worked in the past so you can employ those techniques in the future. Ensure retail compliance by equipping your team with the tools they need to stay on top of merchandising campaigns and relay information to you in real time.
Merchandising can be known as an “art and a science,” because many factors come into play for “perfect” merchandising. It is important to keep in mind that in order to truly have success in visual merchandising, you must constantly adapt. Using data to engage in a cycle of continuous improvement allows you to see what works and what doesn’t, and change your displays based on that. If you keep a record of your displays and the correlating sales, you may find a pattern begin to emerge. With your target customer, a certain type of display may work better than others. Use this one more often. You’ll find that by tracking this data, you can truly optimize your visual merchandising plan.
Bonus! Merchandising Secrets from Nantucket Nectars' Tom First
Nancy Chen is a Content Marketing Intern at Repsly, Inc. and is currently completing a Marketing degree at Northeastern University. A contributor to the national online publication Spoon University, she is experienced in delivering knowledgable, quality material to readers.