Boost your business’ sales with a strategic visual merchandising plan

The news has been filled with doom and gloom for retail lately, with major retail chains like House of Fraser and Marks & Spencer reporting difficulty. But there's still routes for boosting sales revenue, if you know where to look.

For example, visual merchandising has proven itself to be a major asset when it comes to the selling process. Now more than ever, visual merchandising is particularly important to battle against industry woes.

With this in mind, we have put together this guide to visual merchandising, covering everything from design to launch. A great visual marketing campaign can see your profits rise, which is invaluable in these difficult days in the sector!

What is visual merchandising?

Visual merchandising is essentially the layout of a shop floor. Everything from where the shelves should be to what products need to be on display is covered in the process. The goal is to make the store more exciting, inviting, and somewhere customers want to be! This, ideally, will lead to better profits.

But it's not enough to just put items out where they look nice. There’s a science behind why certain presentations, structures and even colours deliver a better experience than alternative arrangements, and it’s been established that a strong visual display can raise turnover and strengthen your brand; it can even inspire customer loyalty.

Chief executive officer Bob Phibbs of retail consultancy firm The Retail Doctor, advises that: “Visual merchandising is everything a shopper sees at your store that hopefully leads to a remarkable shopping experience. It is the unspoken language retailers use to communicate with their customers.”

To avoid the difficulties that retailers such as Toys R Us and Maplin faced, you need to do everything you can to encourage the potential of visual merchandising in your business.

Of wants and needs

Global retail sales are predicted to reach $27.73 trillion by 2020, so the window for growth between now and then is certainly there. The first step to achieving effective visual merchandising is what products you will use to attract consumers. A tip here is to go for what you think your customer wants — not needs. According to a study by Raj Raghunathan and Szu-Chi Huang, emotional responses are influential in our purchasing choices — which is why you should focus on giving the customer something to desire.

Putting the focus on newer, high-end items in focal visual merchandising displays can help to draw in customers who are seeking a luxury treat, increasing your chances of high-cost conversions. You could also use banners alongside these displays to present promotional offers for luxury items that you want the consumer to take notice of — and buy!

How to group up displays

Achieving a successful grouping of products for a visual marketing strategy can be difficult. A recent report found that exposing your shopper to the maximum number of products is a tactical method when carrying out visual merchandising. However, don’t make your displays look crowded. Utilise different display furniture, such as mannequins, racks and shelves — whichever suits the product you’re merchandising — and bear in mind that focal points boost sales by a reported 229%, so ensure that you effectively direct your consumers when they enter your store.

A wise tactic would also be to use the 'Rule of Three', also known as the 'Rule of Three' for grouping up display items. The Pyramid Principle dictates that you create a triangular display, with the biggest item in the middle and the smallest on the outside — which ensures that your display doesn’t look flat and boring. Instead, it will catch the eye, as the products seem to ‘fall’ down towards the viewer. Equally effective is the Rule of Three. Within this, you create attractive asymmetry that shoppers will find engaging. Apparently, humans see asymmetry as normal — which means they pay less attention. By placing product in groups of three, you can create a noticeable imbalance that forces the eye to take in each product individually, as opposed to the display in its entirety — excellent for effectively advertising each item.

The importance of colour

Stylist and retail merchandiser, Jessica Clarke, advises that: “Things that are easy to look at will be passed over, and things that are too outlandish will be offensive to the eye.” And this goes for colour. Contrasting colours at the opposite side of the colour wheel can help grab attention — think black and white or scarlet and jade — but creating a multi-coloured display of uncoordinated colours may turn people away.

The ’decompression zone’

A decompression zone is another asset to keep in mind. This area of a shop is found just a few feet inside the main entrance and is believed by psychologists to elevate a shopper’s mood, acclimatise them to the store’s surroundings, and get them ready for the shopping experience.

Building an experience is vital — no one wants to shop if they feel down or unfocused. An effective decompression zone will help transport your consumer from the hustle and bustle of outside to a calmer, more focused environment that encourages browsing. Here are decompression zone tips:

  • Minimum of 10-15 feet.
  • Based at shop entry with a full view of store.
  • Created using contrasting furnishings and colours from outside area to signal new atmosphere.
  • Use mannequins, attractive stands and specialised lighting to highlight your newest ranges.

Did you know that 98% of customers turn right when entering a shop? Why not use your decompression zone to create a ‘circulation route’ from the right side that leads around your store for a smoother customer journey? Or, try placing your best products at the right of your decompression zone, if this is the most likely route consumers take.

Use all five sense

Yes, it's visual merchandising so the focus is on appearance, but there's no reason why you can't support it with an experience for the other senses too.  Reportedly, 75% of emotions come from smell and our mood is meant to enhance 40% when we detect pleasant aromas. If you run a fragrance, soap or food retail establishment, are you harnessing the power of smell when it comes to merchandising?

Different scents can conjure different memories or emotions for a customer. If you run a bakery and want to evoke a feeling of warmth, cosiness, and home-cooking, ensure that your customers can distinctly smell your products baking from the kitchen by setting up the area to waft aromas into the main shop. Similarly, if your brand specialises in soaps and toiletries, place these strategically around your shop floor to avoid clashing aromas. For example, put all the citrus products together to evoke a sense of energy and rejuvenation and keep these far away from lavender and camomile scents, which are more relaxing.

Change it up

No matter how stunning your shop display is, it will eventually look stale. A major part of tactical visual merchandising is moving your presentations as new stock comes in. Don’t let customers get bored of visiting you — keep changing things up and you can make it look like you’re constantly replenishing your stock and bringing in new and wonderful items (even if you’re not).

Your brand will look lazy or behind-the-times if you leave up last season’s goods or promotions, no matter how lovely they look. Change your visual merchandising displays every month and retain the perception of innovation.

It is predicted that shopping will evolve into less about purchasing and more about the experience. With visual merchandising, you can ensure that your shop offers something engaging to keep consumers interested — so why not start planning out your shop’s next visual merchandising campaign today?

Author bio: Gary Peeling is the managing director at leading UK print company, Where The Trade Buys, offering a speedy printing service for large and small businesses. The company provides has a range of printed products, such as the entertaining and event-popular selfie frame, banners and much more.

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Molton Brown improves stock accuracy with Datalogic Memor

Expertly blended in London for over 45 years, Molton Brown’s collection of signature fragrances, bath and shower gels, home and hand care luxuries have claimed iconic status with vibrant colours and bold scents. Carefully sourcing ingredients from around the world, each creation is intricately composed by some of the world’s best perfumers for a truly indulgent, memorable experience. Molton Brown are proud to hold a Royal Warrant for the supply of toiletries by appointment to Her Majesty the Queen.

Molton Brown has a network of 58 independent stores located across the UK, Ireland and USA and operates concessions housed within 15 to 20 high-end department stores. Within each of these stores there was a requirement to conduct stock takes to understand the stock profile of the business. Before implementing the Datalogic solution, these stock takes were carried out annually by a third party. “The consensus from the business was that the third party audits of our stock were not as accurate as they needed to be and as they were only conducted annually, resulted in poor visibility of stock levels for a long period of time,” comments Bhavesh Patel, Technical Application Leader at Molton Brown.

Across sixteen core fragrance collections there are hundreds of SKUs to account for. “Some products look the same on the surface but the way they are packaged often means they have different SKU numbers. For example, two shower gels in the exact same fragrance and size would have two different SKUs if one shower gel had a decorative bow on,” explains Patel. “The subtle distinctions between these products were difficult for a third party to make without an intimate knowledge of each collection and seasonal variations. Our store managers and employees however have an excellent knowledge of the collection, so we decided to find a solution that would empower the stores to take back ownership of stock taking in the hope that it would drive better stock visibility and accuracy across the business.”

Molton Brown began its search in early 2017, with the aim of having a solution in place ready for the first stock take in October that year. “We visited Retail Business Technology Expo in May to review the potential software and hardware solutions that were available to us,” continues Patel. “At the show we met with Mobile Data Collection (MDC), who demonstrated their vast technical knowledge as well as their expertise in writing bespoke software, and showed us some of the handheld mobiles computers we could use to carry out stock takes in our stores.”


After further evaluation and discussions with MDC, Molton Brown selected the Memor X3 mobile computer to run the stock taking application. “It was really important to us that we futureproofed our investment, particularly when it came to mobile computers” says Patel. “We didn’t want to select a device that would suit our requirements at the time but then find that we needed to upgrade them in a few years’ to gain additional functionality. The Datalogic Memor device met these requirements and would provide our staff with a durable device that wasn’t too bulky and comfortable to use for scanning during stock take periods.”

The Memor X3 mobile devices have Datalogic’s patented ‘Green Spot’ technology. A green spot provides additional visual good-read confirmation, when noise may interfere with audible confirmation of the scanning ‘beep’. In addition to increasing throughput, this functionality also helps to reduce errors and improve the accuracy of stock takes.

Data collected by the devices is transferred back to Molton Brown’s back office system when devices are docked, however Wi-Fi communications onboard the device mean that in future the data could be transferred over the wireless network in real time.

To ensure that Molton Brown was able to conduct its first stock take with the new solution by October, software experts Mobile Data Collection expedited the software deployment, writing bespoke software from scratch that met Molton Brown’s exact requirements in just two weeks. “We were really pleased with the extremely quick and professional service that Mobile Data Collection provided to ensure that all the devices we needed were available for our first stock take,” comments Patel. “The software provided the precise functionality we needed and was well designed to fit the handheld computers we had chosen.”


143 terminals and 72 cradles were rolled out to Molton Brown stores in readiness for the company’s first quarterly stock take. Two devices are in use at larger mainstream stores and concessions, while smaller stores have a single unit available. Patel concludes, “We were really pleased with how well the Memor devices performed during our first stock take and received very positive feedback from our store teams. The hardware and software complement each other perfectly and integration has been very good, so much so that we are in the process of implementing a POS upgrade that will enable the devices to be used as part of the returns process. The whole project has been a great success and we hope to continue our partnership with MDC in the future.”

“Maintaining an accurate stock record and having top level visibility of stock availability can pose enormous challenges for retailers, particularly those that have a vast number of SKUs for similar product lines. We are delighted that Molton Brown has selected

Datalogic’s Memor X3 along with MDC’s software to help them address this challenge and are thrilled to hear that the initial results have been positive,” comments Jamie Dickinson, retail sales director, UK&I at Datalogic.


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