Retail is a competitive business.
Even if your product is completely unique, you still have competition.
There is always another store down the street - or in the next cyber-mall
- that is aiming for your customers' wallet. Customers have a limited
amount of disposable income, but their choices of where to spend it
While there are many aspects involved in marketing
and gaining customer loyalty, one of the most important is your visual
• Does your merchandise display attract and
interest the customer?
• Or does it overwhelm and confuse the viewer?
• Is the display simply bland and unremarkable?
Here are some tips to help you create
displays that will get the customers' attention:
1. Create a focal point
An overwhelming display or a boring one can both have
the same problem - a lack of focal point.
• Where do you want your viewer to look?
• Is there one main feature you want them to notice?
• Where will the eye travel through the display? Don't leave
this to chance. Plan what the customer should do when they see the
display. Perhaps a new product is the main focal point, with complimentary
items placed in close proximity to encourage multiple sales.
Many window and table displays are too low. The focal
point should be at eye level to most viewers. Visitors will not work
to get a good look at your display, they will simply walk on by without
2. Use line and shape to plan your design
Don't just put your products together willy-nilly.
Practice drawing a quick layout to help you visualize the plan for your
• Will your layout be horizontal or vertical?
• Will the products be arranged in straight or curved lines,
in a pyramid or circular shape?
• Will the design combine a variety of elements, or just one?
To experiment with this, draw rectangle that is roughly
the same shape as your display space. Sketch geometric shapes such as
squares, rectangles, circles, semi-circles and triangles in various
combinations to get a sense of an appealing layout. For instance, a
large triangle could represent an arrangement of gift ware. A long vertical
rectangle to the left of the triangle would represents signage placement.
3. Create balance
Strong displays have visual balance. Dark colors appear
heavier than light ones. Large objects appear heavier than small ones.
This seems straightforward, but you need to think about this as you
plan your display.
Generally larger, darker items would be placed near
the bottom of a display, with lighter items at the top to avoid appearing
top heavy. Placing too many items, or heavy looking items on one side
appears unbalanced. A grouping of many items on one side of the display
can be balanced by one heavy item in just the right place on the other
side. Think of weights on an old fashioned scale to get an idea of how
Does balance matter?
We all respond emotionally to visual stimuli. Creating
a display is about creating a mood and a desire within the consumer.
A lack of balance creates an impression of instability and anxiousness.
The consumer is not even aware of the feeling, he or she simply searches
out an environment or merchandise presentation that gives them a positive
feeling and creates an appealing mood.
4. Keep it simple
Don't try to do too much. The goal is to attract attention
to the product. On a slat wall, often simple rows are the best way to
show the merchandise. Too often I have seen displays where every row
or shelf has a different arrangement.
Your goal is to make it easy for the customer to find
what they are looking for and to make sense of your product arrangement.
Keep your groupings logical by grouping similar products together, with
complimentary products nearby.
5. Use proper lighting
Lighting is overlooked far too often. When budgeting
for store fixtures and merchandising, display lighting is not an 'extra'.
Lighting your displays properly can make the difference between a display
that makes people yawn, or makes them stop and look.
Displays should not be lit directly from the top,
or you will get unattractive shadows. Lights should be slightly off
to the side, and to the front of the display. They should enhance the
3-dimensional quality of the product. Preferably the display will be
lit from more than one angle. Lighting should be adjusted every time
you change your display.
If you don't have positionable lights in your key
display areas, especially windows, get some as soon as possible. A good
lighting store will have some for a reasonable cost and can give you
advice on installing and using them.
6. Look at the display from all angles
After you have completed your display, step back and
look at it. Very few people will see it standing directly in front of
it. Most displays are approached from the side and seen from an angle.
Approach your display from all possible angles and
view it as a customer would.
• Is your focal point still placed appropriately?
• Do you need to angle the display to the customers viewpoint?
• Is the signage visible and readable?
• Does the arrangement still appear balanced?
Observe the direction from which most customers approach
the display. Make sure that the best view of the display is the one
that most of the customers will see.
Putting these six tips into practice will help you
create dynamic displays that attract customers.
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©2001-2008 Inspire Retail Solutions. All Rights Reserved.
Melanie McIntosh is a retail consultant and owner of Inspire
Retail Solutions. She helps independent retailers who are
struggling to get more customers in the door.
Is your store appearance actually turning customers away?
Find out more here: http://www.inspire.bc.ca
and interviews have appeared in Retail
BC's Retail Connections magazine, Western
Home Furnishing Association's Western
Retailer, Intimate Apparel Business, Arabian Retailer, Teeze magazine, edplay magazine,
and LA Apartment, among