Visual merchandising techniques to use instore

Visual merchandising techniques

In this piece, we spoke with David Anthony, looking at examples of visual merchandising techniques that retailers can benefit from introducing instore.

What are visual merchandising techniques?

Visual merchandising techniques are the presentation tips that you use to make products appear as desirable as possible.

Examples of visual merchandising techniques include store layout, lighting, colour schemes, product positioning, signage and much more. These important considerations can impact whether or not a potential customer comes instore, as well as whether or not they will make a purchase.

Tom Dixon: Lighting Studio

“This is their whole headquarters, including a design studio inside. They use the warehouse exterior and concept look, featuring furniture outside the store and creating a real open concept feel. The way they have designed the studio means it looks completely different in the day to how it looks at night. They really utilise their lighting so in the evening, it shines out much brighter. They have designed the interior of the store to create different areas, with each individual space shining out, using some windows more as displays, with others being a preview of the products they sell.”

Key visual merchandising techniques takeaways

  • Lighting can be used to engage passers-by when it gets dark
  • Using window displays in different ways can pique interest
  • Adding furniture outside the store can create a welcoming feel

Greenwich Market: Craft & Vintage

“There is a real beauty in having so many heritage and regency styles of architecture on the shopfronts. Most of them bounce off of that. They have the windows panes and sometimes you have to use what you’ve got, which adds charm. Other times, you have a little more opportunity, so with the bakery there – they have added a nice awning with a classical storefront. The vintage store fits in perfectly with those old-fashioned rounded windows that they have and you can really imagine a fashion boutique being there in the 60s or 70s. All these places are independent, so they make the most of the properties’ unique charm in their own way, which you wouldn’t necessarily find in other areas of London.”

Key visual merchandising techniques takeaways

  • Make the most of existing architecture and windows to create an atmosphere and keep costs down
  • Adding an awning can really bring something to a shopfront
  • Finding premises that match the types of products you stock can be beneficial

Islington: Makers & Vintage

“Oliver Bonas always looks great, but it was nice to see Camden Passage’s boutique. The floral work on the Magpie Vintage shop helps to capture the season. Colour blocking also works really well, particularly when you have similar-looking storefronts on a street. Every shop has created a different exterior, despite having a similar aesthetic that runs through them all. Brand colours and colour blocking have been used to add vibrancy.”

Key visual merchandising techniques takeaways

  • Colour blocking can be used to create a statement
  • Use brand colours to make sure your storefront remains on-brand
  • Reinvigorate your shop by adding seasonal decorations to the inside or outside

Upper Street: Design & Home

“Upper Street is known for its home and design-type stores. You’ve got your older style storefronts and then right next door, an old post office has been turned into Islington square, with shops that have glass fronts. The Wearer has used their window space really well for a small boutique store – it’s great to see people understanding the architecture of the space and utilising it in the right way. Even the more classical-looking shopfronts are still minimalistic in their own way, as you’re looking through the window into the space. It’s a personal choice whether you like the glass storefronts, or if you prefer the ones where you get a peek inside. It’s all about showing off what you do and creating interest. The pop-up gallery that you can see looks like a store and walking past, you’re able to see everything in the space. Again, this comes down to personal preference as you might not go into a shop if you can see everything and nothing in particular interests you, however, the same could be said for a store with just a few items in the window if none of it appeals.” 

Key visual merchandising techniques takeaways

  • Decide whether you want passers-by to see most of your stock, or a select few items from outside
  • Utilise space to fit plenty of products while taking customers on a journey and avoiding clutter

Bond Street: Spring/Summer ‘22

“Old school window dressing stems back to the early 1900s and most stores in those days would have a backing to their window, which I love. So you would have to go inside to see the products and this was the mentality. The window piques your interest, so it’s like giving people a snippet to tempt them inside. The back of a window works as a backdrop, pushing your eyesight forwards to focus on the items presented in the window. Without a backdrop, you can look past that and into the store, so it can be counter-effective sometimes. With a backdrop, using something like curtains, you can create a greater element of surprise and make more of a statement. You can also see in these pictures that Dior has an interesting backdrop and Versace has created a hologram kind of effect to capture attention. Ultimately, the choice of window dressing comes down to what fits a brand best.”

Key visual merchandising techniques takeaways

  • Window displays with backdrops can focus attention on presentation and encourage people to explore instore
  • Statement backdrops can work well to capture attention from afar
  • Even plain backdrops can be effective in encouraging people to look closely at the products on display

Givenchy: Artist Collaborations

As you can see, there are large, expansive windows that Givenchy has needed to fill, so they have tried a few different visual merchandising techniques in their store design. I actually went on their website and did some investigation and found that they have employed two designers this season to collaborate for the spring/summer collection. They have created artwork for their windows, such as the sculptures you can see, bridging the gap between fashion, art and design. The different approaches create a gallery space appearance from the front, however, they have created a more minimal look from the side of the shop. It doesn’t always need to be complicated, for example, they have featured just a rail in one of the windows and this works.”

Key visual merchandising techniques takeaways

  • Collaborations and creative displays can grow customer engagement
  • Encouraging offline shoppers to research or look things up online can support omnichannel retail
  • You don’t have to follow the same theme for all windows. Sometimes, mixing it up can work brilliantly
  • Consider different ways to showcase items, whether this is on rails, shelves, props, or with backdrops
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