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Chief Editor Anuraag S | Editor Swati Bhalla | Correspondent Nisha Nihalani | Powered by GigaSoft™


As you show –so shall you sell! It is as simple as that and yet, surprisingly, so many retailers just don't get it. It is not enough to carry fine merchandise and well advertised brand names; how you present your merchandise sets you apart from the retailer to either side of you and the retailer down the street who may be carrying the same brand names - or brands equally well known.

Just as manufacturers spend millions creating easily recognized and long remembered logos and brand insignia so must today's retailer create his own brand identity which should become even more important to the consumer than the manufacturer's brands which are contained within the store. Since I write books on retail, restaurant and specialty food store design I am always looking for and finding new designs and architects and store planners who create them. These stores, shops and cafes are now considered “retail brand images” - they are the “visual cues” to the shopper and by the choice of building and finishing materials, the color palette, the theme, the graphics and the visual merchandising and display a distinct “signature image” is created. It tells the shopper who and what the retailer is and something about the caliber of the merchandise.

So many retailers who have grown and prospered over the years are today commissioning designers to create new retail brand images for them because the world now relies on imagery and image recognition. People don't seem to want to take the time to discover on their own; they want a sure thing—something already proven. Thus, the power of branding. Also retailers are looking to expand their customer base and reach out to new shoppers without losing their traditional and loyal customers. That means tying in some of the familiar visual cues with the new ones. Maybe it is maintaining a signature color in the logo, or some unique architectural or decorative element from the old store in the new design like a chandelier or a classic old display table. The resulting design combines old with new, traditional with the future and still serves to identify the retailer as an entity to be reckoned with.

The presentation of the merchandise and the displays that bring the shoppers into the store are very important in creating the retail brand image. If one uses mannequins—are they distinctive? Do they represent, truly, the retailer's customer base? Do they do justice to the merchandise? Are they as smart, sophisticated and stylish as the garments or as amusing, young and trendy as the retailer would like his wares to appear? They are the store's “silent salespeople” and they “speak” volumes about the merchandise! If the retailer uses forms, drapers or costumers—how are they different from those used by his neighbor? How do they make the garments look unique and distinctive? If the retailer doesn't have a big sign with the store name on it will people still recognize the store by its window presentations? They are the image makers—out on the street and in the aisles of the mall. They dare the shopper as they entice them and lure them in with a sense of newness and excitement.

What does the display of stock on the wall and floor fixtures or fittings –on the display tables and racks—say about the retailer? How does the shopper quickly and conveniently find the merchandise or the particular designer or brand name she seeks inside the store? That is where the retailer's distinctive visual merchandising not only becomes part of the retail image but adds greatly to what shoppers—the world over—look for in a shopping experience. They look for and want selection, quality, comfort and ease of shopping. So, as I said at the very start—this is the moment of truth. This is where the shopper meets the merchandise and where the decisions are made. This is where how you show affects how you sell.

Many retailers, hoping to expand into multi-store chains know the importance of that recognizable Retail Brand Image and how it plays in the marketplace. The “look” means continuity; it means good will and the store's reputation is represented by the colors, materials and the visual cues inherent in the design. The better the retailer looks—the more will he be able to attract the top name brands looking for outlets. We are a brand conscious society so make sure that you create your own personal “brand image” to succeed in business.

TATA McGraw Hill Education has published India’s first Indigenous book on Visual Merchandising by Swati Bhalla & Anuraag S. An inspirational read containing over 250 pages of photographic examples, case studies & simple instructions on how you can create most profitable displays in your store. To order, write to us at: [email protected]
Learn to create “Visual Appeal” in your retail store. Studio Atomium offer an online course for every aspirant and budding VM, to assist retailers of all shapes & sizes in understanding the importance of managing their shop, maximizing their space and in turn increasing their profitability. To know more, log on to:
“Cityblue Apparel & Denim” in Chicago use Polaroid pictures to show what the jeans look like when “on”. One may be surprised what information a simple picture can provide: low rise or mid rise, loose fit or skinny, low or high pockets, straight leg or boot cut. They have these Polaroid by their Jeans display in both the men's and women's areas. This tool works well for those male customers, who like to shop by waist size and not have to try anything on.

We are re-starting our ASK ME section, where you can ask any question, issue, problem, pertaining to Visual Merchandising or Displays and experts from the industry will advise you with the best possible solution.

You may write to us at: [email protected]


People are all different – each unique in their desires, needs, opinions, priorities, and tastes.

It only takes a quick look at the world around you to confirm this fact. But sometimes the hardest thing for us to do as salespeople is to put aside our personal judgments about what WE think is a good choice, or a beautiful color, or too expensive... and let the CUSTOMER decide.

This story from Susan at Lilly of the Village Flowers and Gifts perfectly illustrates the point:

“As a florist I'm on my feet a lot, so good shoes are very important. It was time to find some
stylish warm weather shoes so my husband and I visited the nearby "destination" shoe store known for good quality work shoes.

They didn't have the style I wanted in my size, and the clerk told us it would take three weeks to get them in. I didn't want to wait three weeks so we decided to leave the store and look somewhere else.

On the way out, my husband turned to ask the sales clerk if there was any way we could get the shoes quicker than three weeks, even if we had to pay for expedited shipping. The sales clerk said, "Oh yes, we could have them in three days, but that would cost you $10.”

I know my jaw hit the floor. This kid had almost lost a $150 sale because he thought that $10 for shipping was too expensive to even mention. Needless to say, I was glad to pay the $10 and wait three days as opposed to three weeks.”

The moral of the story is simple: Keep your own perceptions and prejudices out of the sale –
present all the options and let your customers decide what's right for them.

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