According to merchandising expert, Robin Enright Salcido, an important aspect of the in-store experience is for retailers to show off their products in engaging ways that persuade shoppers to come back for inspiration, human interaction, and to be wowed.
“In today’s retail market, people are longing for more than a place to just go and buy a sweater or climbing gear,” Enright Salcido says. “It’s the experience and they may not be able to verbalize that or articulate it, but a relationship is formed with the retailer.”
~ Robin Enright Salcido via SNEWS
The Retail Doctor observes that merchandising is “one of the most impactful ways you have to influence a brick and mortar shopper and get them to pause and consider.” Here are 4 reasons why:
1. Online Can’t Offer the Experience You Can
Many people shop online and at brick and mortar stores, and that’s probably not going to change.
The problem is that shopping online doesn’t allow shoppers to “emotionally connect” to the merchandise. When they visit a brick and mortar store, however, the retailer can capture and focus their attention with creative displays that allow customers to visualize how particular products work together, as well as being able to touch, hold and try them on.
While some might consider visual merchandising “old-school”, it still works! The Retail Doctor demonstrated this recently when he helped a client re-merchandise his store. Impressively, a $500 ski jacket that hadn’t sold for months prior sold the day after the merchandising change.
Merchandising may not seem as cool as virtual reality goggles and robots, but none of these hi-tech tools are proven to increase shopper conversions, they’re simply shiny and new, making them popular topics of conversation.
As The Retail Doctor points out, “Research has shown that when shoppers feel nothing, they do nothing.” But brick and mortar stores can change that by creating sensory experiences to help persuade customers to stick around for a while and tempt them to make a purchase.
2. Good Merchandising Prevents Overwhelm
“A visual assault on the senses overwhelms the customer,” explains Compliant IA. “Too many items and clashing colors results in a display that looks like a toddler tossed all the toys on the floor; the result is chaos. When overwhelmed, customers tend to walk away.” Or click away, as the case may be.
To avoid clutter and chaos in displays, Compliant IA suggests that you focus on highlighting a single item or a few related items in a coherent theme or story.
As in selling, you can’t just “wing it” with your merchandising. If you want high converting displays, it’s going to take some creativity and planning.
Your retail space should function like your best salesperson, with visual merchandising that compels shoppers to browse, consider, and purchase.
3. Creative Merchandising Solves Problems
“Outside of sales training, nowhere is the creative spirit more needed than in how you display merchandise in a retail store,” says The Retail Doctor. He goes on to say that, “Creativity is using the imagination to solve a problem or communicate with another human being.”
Consider the photo below, for example:
The mannequins appear very strong and buff, with the heavy-duty rope, chain, and weighted ball adding to the effect. This display speaks not only to how Baby Boomers like to see themselves—still in their 20’s and fit—but it also sparks interest in Millennials who aspire to this level of fitness.
In other words, this display works because it makes a connection with customers who want to be strong and buff, and solves a problem: Under Armor workout apparel will help them achieve that goal.
As The Retail Doctor points out, store displays must capture a shopper’s attention and portray a complete lifestyle or solution. Creativity helps you come up with merchandising answers so you can make meaningful connections with customers and showcase solutions for their problems.
4. Effective In-store Displays Tell a Story
Telling a story with your visual merchandising not only helps with the design process but ensures that you create product displays customers can connect to.
The story can be related to a single display or flow through the entire retail space, beginning with the storefront, main window or space near the entrance. The narrative can also be simple, like “Soak up the Sunshine”(as seen in the photo below) and should utilize consistent color themes and signage to keep the story cohesive.
Much like the content you put on your website, the displays you put in your store can say a lot about your brand. Visual merchandising can be used to convey your stores’ values on walls and shelves. So, if you spin a compelling story about who you are as a company, it can make your brand more personable and help build a sense of community and trust.
In order to increase retail sales, your visual merchandising must engage the customer. It should tell a story, appeal to the senses, and serve as a reminder for secondary purchases, suggests Compliant IA. When in-store merchandising is done well, it can play a pivotal role in converting casual shoppers into paying customers, resulting in more sales.
Because visual merchandising functions as one of the touchpoints in the customer’s decision journey, it should be regularly analyzed to determine if and how displays are affecting sales.
And remember, displays can become invisible to regular customers after they’ve been around for a while, especially when viewed in close proximity to newer ones. So rotate out old or worn displays and keep your merchandising fresh to boost potential conversions.
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