Swati Bhalla
December 29, 2011

‘Mantra’ Of A Successful Display

Over 40 years ago, psychologists like Abraham Maslow noted that people performed tasks better when asked to do them in aesthetically pleasing environments. Yes! Visual Merchandising. Here are a few tips to make your store a long term success.

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 a store silently announces what to expect inside. Some importance questions to be answered are: How do customers locate the business? Is the walk –way clear and accessible? Are the exterior signs clear, clean, does it need painting or a touch up? Is the window glass clean? Is the window presentable?

The most important function of a store’s exterior is to attract customers. Based on the exteriors of the store, a consumer will form an opinion on the retail brand’s positioning and personality, and on this basis some customers will pass by and others will enter. That is why the store’s exterior has to attract the customer, differentiate itself from competition, and effectively communicate what it stands for.

The store’s sign outside the building makes the first impression on the shopper. It set’s the look and the image of the store. A few aspects that create the look are the colour, the styling, the material used, the lighting, the comparative scale and size of it. The store sign is it’s signature – personal, original and recognizable.

A window is like your visiting card, it must tell the customer who you are. Since it is at the entrance, it can be used to provide vital information to the customers. Communication on events, offers, festivals etc can be very effective from a window. Keep it simple. Don't try to put in everything at once. Keep it clean. Change displays frequently to keep the look fresh. Bright lighting is crucial, both during the day and at night. Use lights to highlight individual items or signs. (Movable track lights work well.) Use repetition of shapes and colors to attract attention. Cluster items in groups of three or five. Odd numbers are most pleasing to the eye. Vary height and depth of items to carry the eye throughout the display. A pyramid or triangle is a pleasing shape. Use motion to catch the customer's eye. Use light, bright colors. Continue the theme of the window display with other displays inside the store.

Is my display good or not? This is something we ask ourselves every time we do a display. Well, the answer lies in the following questions: Does my display attract the attention of my customers? Does my display arouse interest of my target customers? Does my display create desire in the hearts of the customers? Does my display have all the information my customers need to be convinced about the product? Does my display bring about SALE?

Visual Merchandising must attract and hold the passer-by until interest is aroused. A display may attract a person from over a block away; yet fail to arouse buying interest in the merchandise displayed. If a display is sufficiently surprising and unusual, a potential customer will cross the street to view it more closely. It makes no difference whether movement, colour, lighting, form, or lettering achieves this result. Contrast especially can be relied on to attract the attention of maximum number of passer-by. Any method can be used as long as it does not evoke any disapproval or conflict in the observer’s mind. Putting the display on a podium helps get attention. Having a contrasting backdrop to your displays also catches attention. Highlighting the display with accent lighting and ensuring the focus spots are on the merchandise also helps getting your customers attention.

The display needs to be Interesting else the customer will just walk away! For the most part, passer-by approach window without any purpose. Attention is arrested by something positive, some striking point that we will call FOCUS or optical centre of the display. Lighting, movement colour or the merchandise itself may create this focus. From there the eye of the observer will move in the desired direction through the display by use of devices such as arrows–subtle or defined–that lead to the saleable merchandise. Using a display story with relevant props that compliment and are relevant to the target segment, makes the display interesting to customers.

The consumer may be made to want the product being featured when you demonstrate the qualities, use and benefits of the product. Sell the idea that the article is exactly what the spectator needs and that owning this article will bring complete satisfaction. Making the customer relate to the display and imagine he wearing the displayed merchandise generates desire. Just like a good advertisement sells dreams, good Visual Merchandising sells personality… So ensure you dress the mannequin and the display the way you want to be seen if you were the customer that is; Wear-ability of the merchandise in an appropriate Setting.

Tell the truth about the product, bringing out the positive characteristics of both the store and the merchandise being offered. Correct and concise ticketing, highlighting the salient features of the product and price point. Also, keeping the displayed merchandise at close and visible proximity so that customers can touch, feel and try, on the product, helps convince a customer.

The content of the signage will depend on the type of store. That is, if it is a value format store, it will concentrate on the “value” aspect in its signage. Like in Big Bazaar, most signage has offers or discounts highlighted. This is because it is a value format store. But in a luxury store, like Dior and Gucci, the signage will make the product sound more special. This will be done by highlighting product features, eg. the wool used for the coat was sourced from the hills of Kashmir etc.

We show in order to sell. Visual Merchandising is the presentation of the merchandise at it’s best; colour coordinated, accessorized and self-explanatory. It is one of the final stages in setting out a store that customers will find attractive and appealing. It should follow and reflect the principles that underpin the store’s image. Display or Visual merchandising is “showing” merchandise and concepts at there very best, with the purpose of making sale.