Swati Bhalla
March 15, 2011

What You See Is What You Buy!

Want to increase sales dramatically? How can you sell better to the current customers? How to get new customers in your store? What is the easiest and most cost effective way to increase sales? There is just one answer to it all: Visual Merchandising!

The display of merchandise in such a way as to increase sales is called Visual Merchandising. A visual merchandiser specialises in the display of a store's products or services to the buying public. Even though the nature of displays may change somewhat from category to category, but all merchandise displays are based on basic principles of display, and all these principles are designed to increase product purchases.

Visual merchandising coordinates marketing, advertising and sales strategies. Indeed, merchandise displays are an integral element of the overall look of the store.

A neat merchandise presentation helps customers to find the product easily

Merchandise Presentation: The fastest way to increase sales!

A visual merchandiser would display the merchandise in a logical manner so that the buying process is easy for the customers. Once customers enter a store, they should be able to find the product they are looking for, and clearly see the options available.

Fashion Clothing, Dominance by Coordinates

Capture Customers attention

The customers get easily distracted. To keep their attention and to interest them in more products, a display person would use the wall space to make a fashion statement. Here he would use vertical space but never go too high (people don’t look up or can’t reach the product) or too low that the merchandise get’s hidden below (out of sight). Lower price point merchandise is normally placed on the floor.

The back wall forms the background for the shopping experience and should always highlight the most interesting merchandise and should reflect a lifestyle image.

Colour, Brand or Price?

While deciding how to display of a product category, a retailer needs to first decide what aspect of the product needs to be emphasized upon. In a merchandise presentation layout, there could be dominance of any factor, such as Colour, Brand or Price.

Each merchandise category is different, and needs good understanding of merchandising and customer buying behaviour. Before setting such norms, spend some time on the shop floor to understand what the customers are looking for. Understand the buying process. Are the colours the deciding factor (like in fashion jewellery) or is it the brand that is more important (like in cosmetics)?

In a category, where the first thing that a customer is looking for is the colour of the product, Colour becomes the most important or dominant factor. People see colours. People buy colours. Colour is what sells. Here colour takes precedence over style and size. In a display of various coloured items, all items of red colour are shown in a group or cluster. Then within the cluster, the merchandise is displayed size and/or style wise. In this way a shopper can locate immediately the colour he or she is looking for, and then decide on the style and finally the size that’s required. Where the customer is very brand conscious, we often see display by dominance of brands.

Merchandise Presentation: Gift Items

Dominance by size is also often used during sale when merchandise concentration increases on the floor. Setting merchandise by size expedites the buying process and thus helps during sale period.

Displays can be planned on coordinates too, instead of a single colour being dominant; it can be a team or a group of colours or patterns or prints plus solids that are organised for easy shopping.

Where price is the most important deciding factor, we often see this in a value driven store, the bazaar look is often adopted to give the customer a feeling of being in an inexpensive, sale/discounted and bargain store.

In apparel stores it is recommended to group items, makes ensemble e.g. Coordinate Top wear & bottom wear; and place items so that selecting & decision making is faster (logically adjacent). e.g. Belts with trousers.

Every category is different and thus every category must have there own presentation norms. These norms depend on the customer buying behaviour, type of merchandise (for kids, ladies, adults, etc.), size of merchandise, price point (fashion jewellery vs. diamonds), etc. Based on considerations like these, that define a merchandise category, and keeping in mind the basic principles of merchandise presentation, different norms of display are set for different categories.

For example let us take a Books. Divide the books into broad sections like: Kid’s, Fiction, Classics, School Books, etc. Then take one section at a time, like ‘Cooking’. Now put all these books into sub-sections like: Continental, Thai, Indian, etc, etc, etc. Now to further make it easy for the customers, put the books alphabetically (Author wise or Title wise…)


Some ‘Special Sections’ in the books section/shop could be:

  1. The Store Recommends…’

  2. Top Sellers

  3. Classics

  4. New Arrivals/Launches

  5. Best Buys

The above sections are just some ideas. There are lot of interesting things we can do to display books. These sections or display ideas need to be developed. We need not give them wall space, may be just a small stand, floor of table top, can fulfil the requirement.

No matter what you are selling, or to whom; the importance of the display of merchandise can not be denied. Understanding your customer and creating a presentation of merchandise to suit there needs is a win-win situation!