The Basic Principles of Visual Merchandising

Cover: The Basic Principles of Visual Merchandising

People love to browse through stores while they go out for a walk. Nowadays, retail stores focus on attracting the attention of passersby and enticing them to first come into the store, and then, hopefully, to buy something. It sounds quite simple, but in fact, there is plenty of effort involved. Visual merchandising is an art form of capturing the attention of customers, as well as an art of persuasion, using visually appealing strategies with the aim to boost profits. It all boils down to having an outstanding shopping experience, which will encourage customers to make a purchase.

Visual merchandising doesn't only help a store attract customers, it also helps increase sales and gives customers a good reason to come back again. Here are the basic principles of visual merchandising that will help your retail store truly stand out.

Design your store to your customers' taste

First things first, identify the target audience and get to know them well. The most important aspect is to learn their preferences and their lifestyles in order to create effective displays. If you want your store's layout to impress your customers, then you must know how to appeal to their tastes.

What matters the most is to have the right merchandise your audience is looking for. It's not that hard to figure it out. After all, you can check out social media and blogs to figure out what kind of fashion trends are popular these days.

Customize display windows

The first thing people see is your store's display window and it can be a decisive factor for a customer considering whether to go in the store or not. Powerful retail window design is one of the most important visuals that will represent your store. After all, something has to capture the attention of passersby in order to invite them in, and that's a display window.

Store windows are a glance into your retail shop and they should complement it with a brilliant design. Try to create an outstanding visual representation of colors, fabrics and outfits, as well as individual items of clothing, that will stop people in their tracks and make them admire the view. Once you get the display windows right, you can focus on the interior.

Store layout

The most important aspect in visual merchandising is your store layout and the way customers can navigate through it. Always try to use most of the space to display your merchandise, while leaving enough room for customers to walk around the store.

Moreover, try to display the most valuable goods in sorted categories to encourage impulse purchases. Use color combos to lure attention, as well as symmetry and balance to display the items neatly and in an organized manner. Think about innovative printing, and add wallpapers to complement displayed items along the aisles. It's important to remember that customers need to see amazing combinations of visuals and merchandise while browsing through your store.

Showcase combinations

One of the most interesting ways to encourage people to buy something is to display how a product will look. Therefore, if your retail store offers clothing, try to display various combinations of different styles that will allow people to examine it or encourage them to start creating combinations of their own. For example, you can dress your staff in clothing combos you have in stock at your store and let customers see how it looks on people, before they try it out.

Furthermore, furniture is also a great example of showcasing eye-catching combinations. You should display furniture in various combinations so people can imagine how it would fit in their home. One of the most effective visual strategies is displaying assembled kitchens and bathrooms so that people can see, admire, and potentially buy them more easily.

In order for customers to focus on visual representation in your store, you must appeal to their other senses as well. The overall impression and mood is a determining point on how long your customers will stay to browse. Make sure you play some soothing music in your store to make people calm or play something that your audience listens to, which will inspire a good mood.

Smell is also an important factor because no matter how many outstanding visuals you may have in your store, if something smells really bad, your customers will leave for good. Room temperature matters as well because people can easily get frustrated if it's too hot or too cold in your store.


A customer's journey through your store should be exciting and pleasant. Keeping everything organized or grouping similar merchandise close together is suitable for customer experience. When similar products are close together or products of the same color are in one area, it will allow customers to pick what they need without walking around too much.

It's all about creativity and innovation and how you use them to create a store environment that will be the most enjoyable for your customers. For instance, you can create categories or groups of categories for certain items. This will allow customers to easily find what interests them the most, without much trouble.

Good visual merchandising is important for attracting customers and for making a store stand out in the first place. It's not hard to fully utilize the potential of visual merchandising, the only thing you need is creativity and a way to turn that creativity into an amazing visual representation of your retail store.

About the writer:Emma Miller is a Sydney-based writer with a degree in marketing. Interested in digital marketing, social media, start-ups and latest trends, Emma's a contributor at Bizzmark blog.

Join the #retail, #inspiringretail and #SmartStore conversations on Twitter @RetailNext, as well as at

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Emma Miller

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