This blog title is a bit misleading but try to stick with me on this because I have an important point to make. Back in my youth things were so much simpler, shops had window displays and merchandise was the stuff the shop keepers put on the shelves. But, as with everything we've moved on and our knowledge of customer shopping habits is far greater, our jobs are more specialised and our skills have developed to meet these new demands.
I don’t really know when window display became visual merchandising and arranging products on shelves became merchandising but regardless of any changes there is a distinct difference. Retailers who understand this difference increase sales. In my humble opinion visual merchandising (display) is about attention seeking, getting customers’ attention and making them look through inspired visual interpretation. Visual merchandising is best placed in shop windows, in store display, high up above shop units or as a focal point to table selling spaces. Merchandising, on the other hand, is about placing products on shelves or tables to make the buying experience easy for customers, enticing them to pick stuff up, form an emotional connection and not put it back on the shelf! These days there is continual research into how we shop and this, if used correctly, will inform how a shop is laid out and where and how products are merchandised on the shop floor to maximise sales.
Even with all this information to hand there are still many retailers, independents in particular, who are missing out on maximising their sales. In smaller shops there is often a tendency to over display products. The image above sort of illustrates this. Don’t get me wrong, I think this is a stylish shop but this image is displaying one brand, Marimekko and while it may work here this style of merchandising would not work for retailers selling many different brands. Most customers would feel uncomfortable about touching the products on these shelves for fear of ruining the display. For me, these shelves are displayed with product, not merchandised with product. Probably the only place where this school of thought would differ is at the top end of the market where customers want to see exclusivity and visual merchandising (display) will be conspicuous throughout.
Of course some bigger retailers like Selfridges make their stores very shoppable by combining both, display and merchandising in one very neat professional package…
All the best
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