Visual Merchandising 101

No money to renovate? No problem

It’s that time of year again — spring cleaning. Whether you dread it or love it, there are good reasons to embrace this ritual, and they all add up to increased sales.

Using angles

Angles lead the eyes and feet of customers wherever you want them to walk. If you have a wall of products that aren’t selling well and you can angle a few floor fixtures toward it, customers will be drawn in that direction. Angles act on our unconscious minds and lead us in the direction they are pointing. 

In one United Rentals store I consulted for, they weren’t selling generators. It took me two minutes to turn each generator to the same angle so the eye would be drawn to the side wall, and within a half hour, they sold one.

renovate and visual merchandising
Using angles, like in this Creative Energy showroom, can unconsciously lead customers through your store.

Reworking displays

When the owners of Crate & Barrel opened their first store, they didn’t have the money for fixtures, so they used the crates and barrels that the products were shipped in instead. Their concept was for customers to walk through the space and with every turn, see something new, which worked for them as they now have more than 100 stores in nine countries. 

While reworking your entire selling floor may be the last thing on your agenda, you can consider applying this approach to product displays. Instead of a crate or barrel, a modern equivalent is a grouping of painted wood or MDF-covered cubes at varying heights. If you don’t have space for a cubelike merchandise display, consider putting it near a spa unit or beyond your decompression zone — just inside your store, about 6-8 feet from your front door.

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Another way to show new products is on a small table, which can display a few samples of the new product with sign. If appropriate, open one box and pull the item out so people can touch and see it with the rest of the inventory placed underneath the table.

Clear the clutter

It may seem counterintuitive, but organizing should start with the areas customers can’t see. Spend a week purging your stockroom of old fixtures and clearing shelves of things you haven’t used in years. Next, clean up the floor area around the checkout counter, and move into the corners of the store to get rid of the accumulated junk. 

It’s easy to get busy and use your showroom as a storeroom — but avoid letting boxes of inventory stack up. Especially if they tend to end up against your windows, as seen here.

Try to look at your store through a customer’s eyes. Are there cluttered areas that may be convenient storage for you but a distraction for shoppers? A spa store in Oregon did a great job on a renovation but started stacking broken-down cardboard boxes between their swim spa and their front window. It was an “empty” space, but what customers saw was lots of cardboard in the display window area. It’s not a great visual next to a $20,000 swim spa or a welcoming sign as you enter the front door.

Refresh your signage 

If you have the same signs you opened with and you’ve been open for more than three years, it’s time to refresh them. It doesn’t need to be overwhelming. It can be as simple as picking a new font and printing them out on sturdy paper. Once they’ve gotten a refresh, keep your signs dusted, ensure lights are directed toward them and always move signs alongside corresponding merchandise.

Incorporating Feng Shui

Make your store welcoming by getting rid of anything that blocks your entrance, including overhanging branches, garbage cans, boxes, the umbrella stand, bunched-up entry mats or overwhelming high or large fixtures that block entry into the store, and try to remove sharp corners in tight spaces.