What every shop owner ought to know about his silent sales person
Are you a small business with a retail shop? Do you feel stressed about how to decorate your store? You understand visual merchandising but don’t know how to get it right?
So many retailers rely on discounts to entice their customers. Discounts are always good but they will effect your bottom line. Draw your shoppers in by providing a positive shopping experience in an atmosphere that entertains and tell a story.
There are two things that help you increasing your sales figures: one is an outstanding customer service, the other is your silent salesperson, visual merchandising.
Often visual merchandising is neglected, especially in small businesses, where the shop owner wears many hats every day, sales person, accountant, buyer, marketing manager, employee trainer, cleaner and decorator. Visual merchandising ends up at the bottom of the job list and never gets the necessary attention.
Simple Steps to find your best and silent salesperson...Visual Merchandising.
1. Have a plan
Take a step back and make a decision on what your outcome needs to be. Write things down and organize your thoughts. Even if your store is small, it is crucial to have a direction and follow it.
2. Think like a designer.
Have you ever wondered why it looks so good when the merchandisers have set up a product or window display? Well, there is no magic behind it. It all comes down to understanding the elements & principles of design. All designers, no matter if they are interior designers, stylists, artists, graphic designers or landscape designers, use these design principles in their work.
Elements of design are line, direction, shape, size, colour, tone and texture. Translated to your retail environment, elements are all things that make up your shop: windows, floors, walls, fitting rooms, fixtures, posters, tickets, signs, etc.
Principles of design are repetition, unity, contrast, rhythm, balance and harmony. In other words the basic guides to visual organisation. In retail it is simply what you do with all your store elements to create an overall pleasing display for your customer.
3. Tell a compelling story in your window
Which story does your window tell? Stories are an important element in creating ideas that stick. Humans process information much easier when it is in the form of a story.
To create a story for your window think about which particular product you would like to highlight. Your window should always tell a clear and compelling story as it is the first touch point with your customer.
You can choose your stories or product themes according to fashion trends/ new stock, promotions for Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day or simply seasons
Once you have chosen your story, think about colors you want to use. Color is the most powerful tool when it comes to non-verbal communication and the design element that makes a space come alive. By choosing the right colors you can literally stop people as they pass by your store.
4. Make your hot zone sexy!
The hot zone is located just inside your front door and the first point of contact for your customer. Your customer will decide at this point if he keeps shopping in your store or if he turns around and walks out. This area is crucial and you must make a statement here!
Your best products should be merchandised in the hot zone. Treat this zone like another window. This area is great for promotional merchandising, e.g. Christmas, Mother’s Day etc. Rotate products in your hot zone on a regular basis. Don’t overload your hot zone. Less is more!
Always remember: first impressions make all the difference!
5. Housekeeping should happen every day. Dust and vacuum clean once or twice a week. Make sure your windows are clean. Maintain the good appearance of your shelves, racks and other point-of-sale material. If something is damaged, repair it or get rid of it.
6. Be an explorer of the world outside your store
Keep your eyes open and go shopping every couple of month to see what your competitors are doing! Visit a big shopping mall or discover a suburb where you normally do not go for shopping. Draw inspiration from everything you discover. Take a few pictures of window displays and store presentations that speak to you. Make notes and gather as many ideas and inspirations you can!
7. Enhance the ambiance of your store
Create a sensual shopping experience for your customer by using a scented candle, playing music and adding the right light.
Lighting not only creates atmosphere, it helps minimising theft in the store. Illuminate your displays from an angle a customer will see it, which is usually front-on. Only show light beams and hide the light source away.
Don’t hang lights directly above a product to avoid creating shadows. Use lighting to highlight focal points. Be careful not to create glare. Be aware of how different lights will change the colours of your merchandise. Save energy by using LED decoration lights.
8. Regularly check your overall store merchandising
Take some time with pen and paper and write down what catches your attention. Go into detail and look into every nut, bolt and screw. Then brainstorm what you would like to change in your store, what props you would like to use for your windows. What needs to be replaced or repaired? But be realistic with what you can achieve and afford. Write this down in your master plan and go step by step. Remember, your plan will help to manage your time and resources!
9. Add icing on your cake
Props can be a great finishing touch for your product or window display. To work with props you need to invest some time sourcing them and they cost money. But by using interesting props in your display you can add value to the existing merchandise and enhance your story.
If you are not sure where to find props in your area, contact a stylist, or browse antique stores and auction centres for a wide selection of interesting pieces.
Always remember to first merchandise your products! This is what you sell and has priority. Everything else is an addition.
10. Be an explorer of the world outside your store
Keep your eyes open and go shopping every couple of month to see what your competitors are doing! Visit a big shopping mall or discover a suburb where you normally do not go for shopping. Draw inspiration from everything you discover. Take your camera to take a few pictures of window displays and store presentations that speak to you. Make notes and gather as many ideas and inspirations you can!