The art of visual merchandising and how it helps increase sales

The team at Where The Trade Buys have put together this guide to creating a visual merchandising strategy that will help boost footfall and conversions at your shop…

Although online shopping is popular, there are still a lot of sales and profit to be made from physical retail stores. Visual merchandising is a well-established form of marketing, but with the dominance of online brands and digital platforms, brands need to work harder to make their physical outlets successful. 

As a company with a detailed knowledge of marketing and business, the team at Where The Trade Buys has put together this guide to creating a visual merchandising strategy that will help boost footfall and conversions at your shop…  

Is visual merchandising still important? 

Visual merchandising is all about creating a shop floor that delivers an engaging and exciting customer experience that will help boost sales. 

However, don’t think this is all about making the shop floor simply ‘look pretty’. There’s a science behind why particular presentations offer better experiences — plus a strong visual display can boost turnover, fortify your brand, and even inspire customer loyalty. 

“Visual merchandising is everything a shopper sees at your store that hopefully leads to a remarkable shopping experience. It is the unspoken language retailers use to communicate with their customers,” according to chief executive officer, Bob Phibbs, who runs The Retail Doctor retail consultancy firm in New York.

So, what are the best things you can do to enhance your visual merchandising strategy?

Grouping products

Your visual marketing strategy relies heavily on how you choose to group products. Offering a wide variety of products to a shopper is good to boost sales, but when organising your visual merchandising campaigns, avoid making your displays look crowded. Make the most of mannequins, shelves, bookcases and other items to help show off your merchandise. 

Did you know that focal points boost sales by 229%?  Capitalise on this by grouping displays to create a point of concentration for your customers. Consider the ‘Rule of Three’ or ‘Pyramid Principle’ methods when grouping products for a display. 

The Rule of Three method offers attractive asymmetry that shoppers like. Apparently, humans see asymmetry as ‘standard’ — which means they don’t pay attention. By placing product in groups of three, you create a clear inequity that compels the eye to take in each product individually, as opposed to the display in its entirety — excellent for effectively advertising the merits of each item. On the other hand, the Pyramid Principle gets you to create a triangular exhibition. This includes having the biggest item in the middle and the smallest ones on the outside — which helps make your display seem more ‘interesting’ to the eye of a shopper. 

Using life-size standees and postcards can also help inject colour and vibrancy to your displays to ensure they grab a passer-by’s gaze, too!  

Using different colours 

“Things that are easy to look at will be passed over, and things that are too outlandish will be offensive to the eye,” said retail merchandiser and stylist, Jessica Clarke. In your display, utilise opposing colours — like royal blue and lemon or tangerine and lime — to instantly force attention towards your display. However, try not to go overboard, as a technicolour presentation of uncoordinated shades may turn people away. 

Emphasise what your customers want 

By 2020, global retail sales are anticipated to hit USD 27.73 trillion — why not get your share of the growth now by maximising your in-store sales?

Do you have the items in mind that you want to show off via your visual merchandising strategy? Concentrate on what your customer desires, not things that they simply need. According to a study by Raj Raghunathan and Szu-Chi Huang , we use emotions when deciding what to buy — hence the advantage of focusing on want over need! 

For the best conversion rate, go for the luxury items that people may want to treat themselves to — and forget about the everyday products that don’t evoke a feeling of excitement. 

The ‘decompression zone’

The decompression zone is essential to a good shopping trip for customers — and brands! Found a few feet inside the entrance, this part of a store is thought to lift a shopper’s mood, adjust them to the shop’s surroundings, and ready them for a ‘shopping experience’. 

If you want to avoid having your customers feeling negative or distracted, it’s worth considering your decompression zone’s vibe and look. Take your customers from the busy high street to a calmer space for browsing by following these tips: 

  • Use furnishings and colours that contrast with outside to gesture new atmosphere.
  • Make it a minimum of 10-15 feet.
  • Create it in the shop’s entrance with a full view of the store.
  • Bring in mannequins, stands, and specialised lighting.

Apparently, 98% of people turn right when stepping into a shop. Use your decompression zone to create a ‘circulation route’ from the right and guide your customers around your store. Or, simply start your first visual merchandising display at the right of your decompression zone. 

Keep changing your designs 

Never stop and stand still when it comes to visual merchandising. Loyal customers will soon tire of any visual merchandising display, regardless of how good it is. Rotate your presentations around the floor to keep it looking new and interesting and ensure that your windows and decompression zones aren’t filled with the same items that they were last month — otherwise, your business may come across as lazy or lacking in new, innovative products. 

Playing to each sense

Every sense is important in merchandising. According to a study, 75% of emotions are evoked due to smell and our mood supposedly lifts 40% when we smell something pleasant. Food and fragrance shops are missing a trick if they don’t utilise the power of smell when merchandising — help your customers recall a specific emotion or memory by showing off your products’ attractive scents. Run a bakery? Evoke warmth, cosiness, and home-cooking by ensuring the delicious smells from the kitchen reach where your customers are on the main shop floor. If your brand specialises in soaps, use stands at opposite areas of the floor to avoid clashing aromas — place citrus products together for energy and rejuvenation and lavender items for a more relaxing smelling experience.  

According to predictions , consumers are going to value the experience over the purchase in retail very soon, if not already. Use the power of visual merchandising — including banners , posters , A-boards , and exhibition panels — to engage with your customers and keep them coming back!

For help on your print marketing strategies, contact us


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