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The main aim of every brand that we see in the market is to attract and appeal to its customers. The branding activities such as the brand’s logo, social media handles, story of the brand, and themes are entirely designed to entice the customers to enter their store and make a purchase.
Whenever we go to a mall, a standalone fashion brand, or any brand for that matter, we observe the WINDOW DISPLAY. It is the first indirect point of contact that a customer has with the brand. How good the display is, the more chances are that the customer will enter the brand. This is the role of visual merchandising.
VISUAL MERCHANDISING - “ THE SILENT SALESPERSON”
Visual Merchandising is everything that we visually see and observe in a brand from the store front displays, lighting, and signages that tells about the brand and the collection offered. Everything integrated forms a story that the brand wants to represent and make people enter the store. And that is why we say Visual merchandising is the ‘silent salesperson’ because the mannequins and posters don’t physically welcome people. They just stay in their place and the meaning that it represents and the aesthetic nature of it, invariably make the customer want to enter the store.
This is just one aspect of the battle. Because a customer has entered the store does not mean that he/she is going to make a purchase from the store. So, in other words, we can say that Visual merchandising helps in bringing in more POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS OR LEADS to the brand. The conversion happens inside the store, once the customers are satisfied with the products and services offered. Learning and observing what the customer wants, can be done with lots of research, both primary and secondary, we can aesthetically and strategically design the entire store in such a way that people find it easier to navigate, find what they are looking for quickly, and make customers stay in the store longer because of the whole ambiance that the Visual Merchandiser has ideated and designed.
Visual Merchandising is an art in itself. It involves a lot of science. Understanding the psychology of the customers is very essential. How they think, how they feel, what colors they prefer, what is the lighting for this particular product, what should be the store layout, and everything is planned and tested beforehand.
It is in creating the necessary engagement, that the brand will have more idea about its target audience, and more chances are that they would be converted into actual customers of the brand. There are many setups, such as the window display that we see that are very expensive. When the company has enough capital, it can go extravagant in its promotional activities. But it's not necessary to assume that only expensive displays look the best. We will look at certain key points which will not only make us understand the purpose of the brand, but also learn a few points which can help our creative juices to flow more effectively to ideate and plan.
FIVE SENSES: Visual merchandising is all about engaging 5 senses we have in a way that will make it conducive for the customer to feel good about the brand and stay loyal to it for a longer time. When we enter a store, let's say a fashion brand, before selecting a garment, we would like to touch and feel it. So in this case, fashion brand heavily relies on the sense of touch. Aroma soothes the customer. Every store has its own fragrances and it is so because of the research that they might have conducted to test which scent goes well with the brand products and customers' liking. So, in this way, we can make a list of all 5 senses, list down what you can provide for each sense, and make it more creative and exciting.
DESIGN THEME AND BRAND PHILOSOPHY: The brand has its own story to display. The products that they have should also be taken into consideration when coming up with a display. While it is very true that we should think out of the box and make creative choices, at the same time, we should realize that the brand is bound by its own philosophy. For example, you cannot have a flower poster or flower display in a sportswear brand. Unless there is a strong reason, maybe a collection is inspired by flowers. In that case, you can. But when we think logically, flowers and sports don't go together cohesively. This unnecessarily leads to confusion among the customers as they would not get the brand image.
GUIDE AND HELP YOUR CUSTOMERS: Many customers would not prefer a sales staff walking along with them throughout the store. Customers need their privacy when they are shopping. In this scenario, the in-store signage should be so effective and simple so that they navigate the store with ease. They know where is the Men’s section, where is the casual/formal section is just by looking at the signages which should be placed to help the customers.
There are certain essential elements that one has to consider when coming up with a visual display for the store. We will briefly look at those key elements that define and structure the visual merchandising for a brand.
The most important element when it comes to visual merchandising is color. Colors are used in various ways to create attention and entice customers to enter their brand store. There is a whole color psychology that we can use to our advantage. Contrast colors and engaging color combinations will automatically gain the attention of the audience.
It is the art of converting Walk-bys into walk-ins.
MOVEMENT AND PRODUCT FLOW:
Landscaping can be used to elevate the presence of a product in a store and make it visually appealing. Creating a movement, and arranging the products by level creation, asymmetric pattern, repetition, and color coordination will make the entire display more in sync with the customers liking and preferences. Symmetrical layouts are easier to follow for the customers as it is simpler. Asymmetric creates a dynamic nature within the store.
LIGHTING AND SPACE:
How a brand occupies and uses its space to the fullest capacity will determine how successful the brand will be. Lighting both the exterior and interior are an important part of visual merchandising. There are decorative lights, focus lights, and Logo back-drop lighting that will highlight key features and make sure that customer’s focus goes to a certain point. The brand knowing this will place its key products in those places.
The spacing and layout (PLANOGRAM) should be designed in such a way that the layout itself guides people to where the brand wants to take its customers. This is a subtle marketing strategy as well to entice customers to purchase the brand’s star products.
Signages and fixtures are a must for every brand. During the End of the Season sale or other discount offers, you will say bright colored signages inside the store signifying the discount percentages in bold letters to make sure it is clearly visible to all the customers. Or when a new collection has been launched, the signages are changed and the brand’s storytelling can be conveyed through signages.
Nowadays there are DIGITAL SIGNAGES. Because of the enhancement in technologies, there are huge LED displays that show the collection pictures, their recent campaign, photoshoots, etc. This is also a dynamic approach that will increase engagement.
This part of the article is to give a job description for the role of visual merchandising. If one wants to pursue this career, then it is necessary to understand how the job responsibilities work and the skills required.
Visual merchandising is a field that is very creative and different from other job profiles. Technologically things are becoming more advanced than ever before. With the likes of AUGMENTED REALITY (AR) and METAVERSE, the role of visual merchandiser can get very technical as brands will start using these technologies to display their products. So, we have to be a part of the trend and make sure the competencies that are required for a job are checked well before and the required skills and knowledge is acquired.
The competition is also becoming tougher and now it's all about small margins. Let’s put our effort into covering up those smaller margins as well and create good will and good work wherever we go!
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