What is visual merchandising and why is it important?


What is visual merchandising?

Essentially, visual merchandising is bringing together all your in-store visual elements to create an eye-catching space for shoppers.

Think colour, lighting, displays, interactive technology, signage… what will stop them in their tracks and encourage them to purchase?

Why is visual merchandising important?

Actually, visual merchandising is more than important. It’s critical.

From the second your potential customer walks past your store, you have the opportunity to attract them in with an appealing window display. Getting them in store is the first step. Then you can use clever visuals to help them navigate the store, to highlight promotions, to hero products, to differentiate areas of your store. Ultimately, you want to give your shoppers the best-possible experience in store, creating stand out to really drive sales.

What are the challenges to Visual Merchandising?

Getting your Visual Merchandising right can pay dividends. But to keep it working hard and showing results, there are a few challenges you might need to navigate along the way:

Changes to your store environment: it’s unlikely that your store layout will remain constant, so your Visual Merchandising approach needs to be flexible. Props that can be moved, lighting that can be adjusted… keep an open mind with your planning.

Budget restrictions: good Visual Merchandising doesn’t need to break the bank. But it does need to fit in with budgets. Make sure you know how much you have to spend upfront so you can plan accordingly. If you have a bigger budget then you could look to more complex in-store theatre, while the smallest of budgets could afford a single-but-show stopping podium. Remember, simplicity is fine, as long as the execution is good.

Fresh thinking: constantly coming up with original new ideas can be a challenge to even the most creative of minds. Collaboration is the watchword here. Bounce your ideas off other departments, such as marketing and operations. Or ask us! We’re highly experienced at creating super standout visual displays and can work easily within your budget and specifications.

Visual Merchandising in practice

There are lots of different components to Visual Merchandising. You can use these independently or in clever combinations, to create truly show stopping retail displays.

Here, we take a closer look at the different elements:

Window Displays

These are super important, as they give shoppers their first impression of what’s in-store. They can disrupt passers-by on their journey and entice them in-store, and serve as the perfect location to promote new products or showcase special offers. Keep them simple with straightforward graphics, or go full pelt with big, bold merchandising.

A great example is this award-winning, themed window display created for Superdry called ‘Snow’, which scooped GOLD at the POPAI Awards 2021.

Superdry Snow window display London

Display props

Props can jazz up your display, adding some extra theatre. Try displaying products on different levels using plinths, or alongside complementary brand props.

A great example of display props are these permanent fixtures we created for AO.com to use as part of their visual merchandising displays. These unique, brand displays were used in concession, shop-in-shop stores in Tesco Extra superstores.

Themed or seasonal displays

Seasonal displays in store play an important role in the retail calendar, driving sales for big events like Halloween, Christmas and Valentine’s Day. Visual Merchandising really comes into its own for these occasions, with well-executed retailer-themed displays drawing in the crowds in their own right. Just look to the hundreds of people flocking to Oxford Street at Christmas for a first glimpse of the festive displays as a great example here.

Seasonal events are a great opportunity for brands, retailers and Visual Merchandising teams to really get creative, putting their own unique take on the theme across.

American toy brand, FAO Schwarz smashed all seasonal visual merchandising goals with this display in Selfridges for their themed in-store pop-up display. Making their entry into the UK market with a toy display with the WOW factor. The judges at for the POPAI Awards 2021 definitely liked it, as this display won GOLD in the ‘Shop-in-Shop & Pop-Up’ category.

FAO Schwarz Christmas Visual Merchandising

Large format graphics

The high street, shopping centres and retail parks are all highly competitive retail spaces. So the key for driving sales is to stand out and think big. Open-plan store layouts, high ceilings and big windows all make the perfect place for large-format graphics. Digitally printed wallcoverings, look-at-me lightboxes, tension fabric displays and flags all offer their own take on superior standout.

Large format graphics were the focal point for this visual merchandising campaign in NikeTown for the women’s world cup. We produced over 600 visually impactful flags in various sizes, and as a result scooped ‘Best Use of In-store Graphics’ at the 2019 VM & Display Awards.

Floor graphics

The floor is an often-overlooked area of the retail environment. But don’t underestimate its power. Floor graphics are a fantastic device for guiding shoppers on a journey throughout the store, or along a specific shopping experience. 

Wrapping their flagship store like a big Christmas present, GAP utilised floor graphics as part of their visual merchandising toolkit, leading shoppers around the retail environment to different in-store displays.

Eco-friendly and sustainable Visual Merchandising

The spotlight on sustainability is shining brightly in the retail industry. Consumers are increasingly looking for green credentials in all aspects of their shopping journey, and Visual Merchandising is no exception. As part of their wider sustainability strategies, many brands are retailers are seeking new innovations and environmentally friendly alternatives for their display materials.

Nike refer to us as the ‘experts in the room’ when it comes to creating eco-friendly and sustainable visual merchandising displays in-store. Their ‘Move to Zero’ campaign is a fine example of how great environmentally friendly materials can look in-store.

Nike Fabric visual merchandising light boxes

Ready to talk to our team about your next visual merchandising project? Drop us a line on 01920 461244 or hello@kgkgenix.com

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