Visual merchandisers are paid “big bucks” to make sure their employer’s window displays and visual merchandising are eye-catching, especially when it comes to the competitive retail industry.
Yet, while small businesses may not have the funds to “splash out” on hiring an individual visual merchandiser, it doesn’t mean they have to settle for second place when it comes to impressive window displays and exciting visual shop concepts.
While Tiffany’s on Fifth Avenue, New York, is famous for its innovative window displays, which have become a sort of sidewalk “theatre” for passers-by, small businesses can also apply the basic visual merchandising concepts to their own stores.
Here we look at a number of issues to consider when it comes to window displays and visual merchandising:
Window streaks: When it comes to visual merchandising, it is important that you consider the cleanliness of the display. Annoying streaks across the window glass can be disruptive to customers and, in some cases, may have a negative impact on how customers perceive your business. A tip is to use premium glass cleaner and avoid chemicals with ammonia or vinegar. Check labels for these two common ingredients which can cause streaks. Ammonia may also damage tinted windows, frames and other surfaces, so beware.
When dressing a mannequin for display purposes make sure the clothing has been steamed or ironed. Use a general theme which will run throughout the display, whether it be a colour theme or season, event, etc. Try to avoid cluttering any window displays. However, you will also want to avoid making the display uninteresting to passing customers by not having enough “product” to attract interest or “turn heads”.
When it comes to window displays (again depending on the amount of space you are working with), you will want to consider a “layering” effect. This means drawing the customers eyes around the display. Multi-levelling of products is a good way of drawing the customer to look at the “whole” display rather than just one particular piece. For example, if you are a retail fashion shop, you can achieve the multi-levelling effect by including not only mannequins, but low shelving which can be displayed close to the front of the window. This is especially effective for accessories. If you can, don’t be afraid to hang items or garments from the top of the window display area. This will help to attract the customer’s attention.
Mannequin maintenance is also another important factor when it comes to visual merchandising and displays. If your mannequins are in poor “shape”, for example they are chipped, smudged, have missing parts such as fingers or dishevelled wigs, it could detract from the actual products themselves. It may also have an impact on how customers perceive your business. Mannequins are also a costly investment and as a result, should be well looked after. To do so, try to make sure your mannequins are handled with clean hands. If the mannequin gets smudges of dirt, use a mixture of toothpaste and water to clean. Also when planning your floor display, try to compose the mannequins in areas where they will not stick out or obstruct traffic.
Lighting will also play an important part in the overall effect of a window display and how that display appeals to potential customers. Lighting quite often can set a particular “mood” depending on how it has been set-up. Effective lighting can help to create a favourable impression of your products in the minds of potential customers. Of course, you will need to consider health and safety issues when using particular lighting in your window displays.
Window displays and visual merchandising has a fundamental purpose – to attract the attention of potential customers and create awareness, and in turn, a desire for your product. To make sure your displays are effective you will need to keep them “fresh”. This means you will need to create new “window stories” for your store and regularly change your window displays, otherwise customers will know what to expect and may no longer look your way!