Visual merchandising is a broad sector of the retail industry with many different key players in the chain of command, which spans from the executives down to in-store staff members. For bigger brands, this level of separation between higher-ups and field sales representatives creates a cohesion challenge, while smaller shops must compete with corporations that have a seemingly endless supply of visual merchandising funds.
Therefore, there is little room for error in retail visual merchandising and retailers need to put their best foot forward at all times. Sometimes that means being bold and trying new things, and sometimes that means sticking to industry-proven best practices. The good news is there is room for both, so brands have an opportunity to explore what works perfectly for them given their locations and clientele.
If you’re a retailer looking for some ideas in regard to visual merchandising, then look no further. Here are some of the biggest visual merchandising trends in modern retail.
“The rule of threes can be applied to every type of display.”
3 Visual Merchandising Trends
You’ve likely heard it before, but the strength of “the rule of threes” in visual merchandising cannot be understated. Business 2 Community contributor Nancy Chen explained why this trend isn’t going away anytime soon. For one, Chen wrote, the rule of threes can be applied to every type of display, whether it’s mannequins, large products or jewelry. Additionally, the odd number of items forces consumers to look at each part of the display rather than taking it all in with a single glance, Chen asserted.
Alan Springall, display designer and vice chairman of the British Display Society, and Kelly McGuane, window designer for Swag, agreed that the rule of threes is a popular VM trend, according to Professional Jeweller. Springall noted that asymmetrical displays are an equally valuable visual merchandising component for retailers as symmetrical ones.
Of course, with a three-point system, cleanliness is key and cohesion is necessary, which is why so many retailers rely on sending out print materials. Every staff member must know how to recreate displays, or that rule of three’s charm could disappear.
Creating Customer Experiences with Brand Themes and Stories
Customer experience has slowly but surely become the de facto strategy for creating displays and visual merchandising. Retailers are now tasked with providing consumers cohesive, themed and amazing journeys regardless of the channel. In-store, however, experience matters much more.
Lately, brands have focused on developing store flows which take shoppers on a physical journey that is supported by decor, lighting and item placements. Once customers enter the shop, retailers can use visual cues, seating arrangements and product displays to create an experience that coerces consumers into purchasing. For example, Peter Andersen, president of Pandora in western Europe, told Professional Jeweller that customers travel through areas in his employer’s shops, making them feel like they are “part of the Pandora universe.” And with 20 traveling visual merchandisers around the region, Anderson must make sure everyone is on the same page.
Visual Strategy Meets Social: Pinterest
Retailers should already be familiar with social media, but a recent article from Small Business Trends argued that there is a lot of power in an relatively unused social platform: Pinterest. The source cited data indicating that 67 percent of Pinterest users take advantage of the mobile app while browsing shops.
Brands should market on this channel, but they can also inject some Pinterest-ness into their visual merchandising strategy by tagging items with “as seen on Pinterest” tags, Small Business Trends suggested. Furthermore, simply browsing this social media channel can help visual merchandising professionals get a feel for what today’s consumers are interested in – with regard to style, displays and themes.
“Stores can set up tablets or other touchscreen devices.”
The trend does not stop there. Retailers are also taking advantage of new technologies to make displays more appealing, interactive and capable of collecting data. For example, stores can set up tablets or other touchscreen devices to allow consumers to browse inventories, choose sounds or enter rewards programs. Of course, staff members aren’t always the most technically savvy individuals, so it’s best to provide employees with plenty of documents – both physically and digitally – ensuring that every display looks top-notch, especially considering that tablets aren’t exactly cheap.
As a note, Professional Jeweller recommended using technology such as RFID. This is commonly used in retail to track items, but stores can put these chips in product displays, allowing shoppers to scan their phones. Additionally, the source explained that RFID is perfect for collecting data if retailers create a system that can determine what products are picked up the most and other metrics.
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