Visual merchandising is a tried and tested technique which, when done well, can encourage footfall, invite customers to stay longer and turn those hesitant browsers into buyers!
Visual merchandising during the festive season is about more than reams of tacky tinsel and a can of fake snow. It's a means of creating an engaging and memorable customer experience. Showcase stock in a way that is appealing to the eye, while effectively using space to maximise the value of your shop floor.
First impressions count
An appealing frontage, engaging window display and enticing signage are all ways to welcome passersby into your business. Big brands have visual merchandising teams planning their Christmas displays months in advance of the festive season because they know it’s the best way to capture their customers’ imagination.
Small and independent business may not have the budget or resource of their corporate counterparts, but with a little foresight and imagination, you can create an affordable window display which builds positive brand associations and tempts people in from the street.
Consider how you want your business to be perceived, how you can incorporate a Christmas feel into your brand and who you’re trying to appeal to. Pinterest is a fantastic source of inspiration when looking for cheap and creative ways to build an eye-catching window display.
Create a mood, tell a story
Colour and light are the primary means of creating a mood. Bold colours are effective at catching attention and framing your products, while block monochrome colours allow you to put the whole focus on the products you choose to display. Play around with ideas to get a feel for what works. Similarly, use of low lighting, spotlights or coloured lights can create a certain mood like the image below.
Fancying a festive theme? When it comes to colours there are the traditional green, golds and reds which create a warm, homely vibe appealing to your customers’ sense of nostalgia. If that's not appropriate why not opt for a modern feel with cooler hues such as white, silver and purples? Think about picking colours that compliment your logo or create a mood that matches your brand identity.
Whether you follow a theatrical route or keep it simple, try and generate an emotional connection between the viewer and your displayed stock items. This is the most effective way of showing how your products could fit into your customer's lives, why they’d need them and how they’d benefit.
By creating a mood that makes your customers reminisce or think fondly of your brand, you increase your chance of selling. A good example of this is the iconic Coca-Cola advert, which has become synonymous with Christmas. Create a Christmas scene that celebrates family and friendship to encourage positive customer engagement.
Showcase what you’ve got
How you display, position and group your stock has a massive effect on how successfully it will sell. Look at the layout of your store. You need to expose customers to the maximum amount of stock in order to maximise the opportunity for a sale.
A number of large retailers choose to herd customers round a circular format, such as Ikea or Tiger. This is successful because customers are forced to browse which often leads to them picking up items they didn't think they needed. If it’s not possible to overhaul your store layout, create key focal points.
Think about displaying items at different heights, from hangers, in baskets, on shelves. Anything that draws the eye and encourages the customer to scrutinise your stock further. If you have a big store, use signage to point out key items. Shoppers who can’t find what they’re looking for leave frustrated and empty-handed.
Try grouping products by type, or displaying as you would if the product was in use. For example, if you're selling a couch, pair it with complementary cushions and blankets. This will inspire shoppers to think about how the product will fit with what they already own, or encourage them to make additional purchases.
Do the items look tactile? Invite customers to handle your products as this is shown to boost buying behaviours. Smaller, cheaper items displayed at your point-of-sale such as batteries or novelty item stocking fillers can bump up the cost of each transaction.
By employing a few of these tips and tricks you can maximise profitability throughout the Christmas period by welcoming more of that increased footfall into your business. Embellish your festive connection, make your products the focal point and don’t shy away from bold theatrical displays, as this is what will make your business memorable.
If you lack confidence in your artistic ability and have the cash to spare you can consider hiring a freelance window dresser.
How much budget you want to commit to visual merchandising may depend on your cash flow at the time, but encouraging consumers to indulge in a spot of shopping early on will certainly create a welcome boost to December's profits.