5 Instant upgrades for your VM that cost under £10

visual merchandising

Looking to improve your visual merchandising on a budget? Modern Retail Editorial Board member Zoe Hewett offers 5 great tips…

1. Here Comes The Sun

Some stores will be more affected than others by the damage caused by strong sunlight depending on which side of the street they are located, the direction of the road and the surrounding buildings. But it is worth being alert to this easily avoided problem, especially as it costs nothing. Faded posters and notices quickly make stores look old and neglected. This is no good in the fast-paced retail industry where everything needs to constantly look up-to-date and fresh.

Any product displayed in the windows will also be vulnerable to sun damage, so be sure to keep an eye and rotate displays more frequently if necessary. Even if you markdown ex-display products it will be difficult to sell them at all if they have been baking in the sunlight for too long. Avoid cladding the windows in yellow cellophane at all costs, as it is incredibly dated and obscures the view in to your treasures. Instead, consider delegating to shop assistants a weekly check for any items that need removing or replacing.

2. Don’t get personal

People buy from people, it’s true, but personal clutter on and around the service counter of a shop diminishes professionalism, and can detract from the brand image. The charm of independent stores is that they are unique, so of course it is very important to inject plenty of character into retail premises. However; the place where transactions are carried out should be free from family photos, novelty pens, toys or other personal knick-knacks. It can be difficult to get the balance right between personality and the personal, but generally speaking it is best to avoid resembling cluttered desk booths that have been made cosy by open-plan office staff. It can seem over-familiar. The emphasis should not be on you, but on your customer.

3. Quit using blu-tack

Although blu-tack is a quick and easy way to fix important notices to glass door panes and windows, it is by no means the most attractive option. It can very easily look messy, amateurish and as though no effort has been made to keep a presentable front. Professionally-produced window stickers may seem hard to justify when cashflow is tight, or if only a temporary message is required, so a better solution to blu-tack or sellotape is transparent sticky glue dots.

Available in permanent or repositionable strength, they are made by Bostik, Pritt and Scotch among others so are inexpensive and easy to source. Being clear, they won’t clash with any brand colours and will create a more sophisticated finish than those still using ugly blue blobs.

4. Handwriting is an art

Unless you happen to be a keen calligrapher, avoid handwriting notices, as all-too-often they look horribly unprofessional. When you have a quick message to write or a one-day special offer to promote it can seem like a chore to print out a half-decent sign from the computer. It would be a waste of money to have these professionally printed, and of course handwritten signs do have character and charm. However; unless written by someone with truly beautiful handwriting and using a good choice of pen and paper, it is a wasted effort.

Scratchy biros and nearly-dead marker pens are not a good look but, if embracing the handwritten suits your brand, then here are some tips to help you succeed. Chalk written messages on blackboards are currently very in vogue, but are also classic so will always look stylish. Available in any size, chalkboards have a place inside and out. The right typography can change the tone of the message to match your brand image. Even the least artistic person can make a beautiful sign by printing out the words needed in the right size to make a template.

Cover the back of the paper in chalk, then tape it in position on the board. Draw over the words with a soft tipped pencil to make a transfer of the letters, then remove the paper and fill in the text on the board with map chalk or a chalk pen. If that’s too much bother, delegate it to one of the team, and if chalk doesn’t fit the store image, download and install some suitable free stock fonts from the web to use in making your own DIY printed paper signs. Use the same typefaces to unify your logo, storefront signage, POS graphics and pricing to create a professional, cohesive look. It will be worth the effort.

5. Spring Clean Regime

Spring is great time for maintenance around the home – and shops are no exception. Even if your regular cleaner is committed and conscientious, your shop will love you back after a really deep clean and a thorough maintenance inspection. Go over every square inch with a fine tooth comb looking for wear and tear, and make a list of any dirty, dusty corners, grubby shelves or cabinets, broken light bulbs, out of date info notices, prices, offers, ads etc. Delegate this task if you are too busy, and ensure everything on the list is actioned.

It is amazing what grime you can notice when browsing a store as a shopper; details that people who spend everyday in-store would easily miss.  Residue from sticky pads, double sided tape and sky hooks is ugly and always makes stores look particularly unloved, so invest in a bottle of Sticky Stuff Remover, and get rid of all trace as part of your Spring Clean regime.