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The importance of visual merchandising on retail businesses

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Tips to help your retail business

The retail sector has faced its fair share of challenges over recent years. Every time the economy starts showing signs of recovery, something crops up to damage spending, from Brexit uncertainty to the slightest increase in interest rates.

Retailers are also faced with the changing dynamics of their industry. High street stores are becoming increasingly difficult to operate profitably, and the whole face of town centres is evolving. It is almost two years since the last BHS closed its doors, yet many of the stores still stand vacant in their prime high street locations. Twenty years ago, retailers would have been queueing to take over the lease. Today, there are no takers.

It is not all down to economic factors. Retailing itself has changed immeasurably with the rise of the internet. Around half of last year’s Christmas shopping was performed online. Not only did that mean less money being spent on the high street, it also meant there were half as many potential buyers for the brick and mortar retailers to fight over.

That, then, is the landscape in which today’s shops are operating. In an age when everyone is talking about the importance of a great online presence, it is worth remembering that your physical shopfront is of no less importance than your virtual one. Fewer shoppers with more choice and less money are what you might call a tough audience, and your business needs to be at the top of its game to survive.

It might sound like doom and gloom, but here’s the thing. Sure, anyone can shop online, from teenagers to nonagenarians. But people still like to go out on a Saturday and look round the shops, and therein lies the edge that your business can achieve with effective visual merchandising. Shopping is a visceral experience, and by presenting shoppers with something that gets their attention and is appealing to the eye, you can prompt an emotional response that no website, however technologically advanced and engaging, can hope to achieve. Let’s take a look at some tricks of the trade.

Get your shop window in order

The phrase we used above was look round the shops, and to get customers to come in you first need to get their attention as they pass. Your shop window is your first shout out to customers, and first impressions are everything. Creating an attractive display is vital, but think bigger – what can you do to make your business stand out from the crowd? That is where technology can be your friend. Digital glass displays provide something out of the ordinary and will get people flocking to the front of your store. These can be combined with infrared touch screens, to make your storefront the talk of the town.

Whether you take a high-tech or more traditional approach to your front window, the other thing to ensure is that it is maintained properly. Leaving cracks unattended for even a day not only constitute a risk to security and people passing by, it also makes your shop look unloved and down at heel. That is where All Emergency Services comes in handy, with its 24-hours per day and 365-days a year call out service for repairs.

The right colour scheme

Don’t underestimate the importance of colour on our emotional responses. Bright colours like red and orange are great in the window for attracting attention and will draw the eye in a way that pastel shades such as blue and green will not. However, grabbing attention to get people into your store is one thing – prompting the desired emotional response is another.

If you are pushing a product with an edgy, exciting vibe, such as a new line of makeup aimed at youngsters, then those bright, loud colours are perfect. But for a product or service that needs to evoke calm and relaxation, the pastel shades we were so quick to dismiss earlier are now exactly what you need.

Where’s the hotspot?

Any visual display needs a focal point, and there are two aspects to bear in mind here. The first is that it must draw the eye – if it is too high, too low or over to the side, it is hardly a focal point. The second is that it has to be the product or service you are selling. Let’s get back to that range of cosmetics – it is all well and good having pictures of pouting girls and handsome lads, with their sports cars, accessories or whatever else you are using to promote the brand. But there at the centre of it all, you need to have the lipsticks and eyeliners themselves.

Use the space

We mentioned earlier that retail space is a valuable commodity these days. Strange, then, that so many shops only use a small proportion of the cubic feet for which they are paying. Note the use of the phrase cubic, not square. There is a whole area between the shelves and the ceiling lying empty.

Now having already talked about focal points, we can agree that creating fabulous displays ten feet up in the air is not necessarily a winning plan, but that doesn’t mean you cannot put the space to good use. Today’s customers have lower patience thresholds than ever, and if they are not guided straight to what they want, they will walk out. Put up clear signs showing where everything is, and if you still have space, you could add some marketing graphics or even customer testimonials.

Defy expectation

A shop full of straight aisles is boring. Consider a circular display format to make yours a little different. It also gives you the opportunity to showcase a more extensive product range. After all, once potential customers are in your shop, it would be a shame not to show them as much as possible.

A nation of shopkeepers

Napoleon coined the phrase, and while it might have been meant disparagingly, there is no doubt that Londoners and the wider nation still love to shop. The digital age, along with other factors, has undoubtedly brought big challenges to traditional shopkeepers, but there are still enough customers walking the busy city centres to ensure the survival and success of those businesses that can successfully rise to the challenges and meet them head-on.




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