6 Visible Merchandising Errors That Retailers Make

By Ray Ko

As anyone who has ever walked into a retail store knows, many products and advertising-related eye candy are vying for your attention. Visual merchandising is a store owner’s opportunity to overcome sensory overload and draw a shopper’s eye to certain products, entice people to interact with items on display, move them around the room in calculated ways, and inspect them to seduce you one last impulse buy.

Visual merchandising can be very creative and fun, but there are some visual merchandising mistakes that smart retailers should avoid.

Mistake # 1: Overloading displays with too much goods

When it comes to displaying goods, there is always the temptation to add “just one thing” to a display. Don’t do it – this is a common mistake in visual merchandising. The proven fashion tip “Before you leave the house, remove a piece of jewelry” is also suitable for visual merchandising. Just because a product line contains multiple items doesn’t mean you have to show them all off at the same time.

Pick some items that really represent the brand as a whole and have the graphic impact to attract people. Use beautifully designed signage in or around the display to guide customers to additional or complementary products.

Mistake # 2: Suppose people know what to do with what they see

Even if the use of an item like lipstick or motor oil seems perfectly obvious, never miss the opportunity to enhance the consumer experience with visual or written content. You can play anything you want in the product – craftsmanship, sustainability, tensile strength, whatever is appropriate – in an eye-catching, informative way while at the same time you educate people and even trick them into buying more.

It goes without saying that if there is any ambiguity about a product you should counteract this right there on the display. The same applies to everything that a customer perceives as negative. Sip that in the bud. People don’t buy what they don’t understand.

Mistake # 3: Use ALL available space

Open space is the breathing space of your business. Sufficient space is required to really experience a product – think in three dimensions. When you do merchandising on the walls, make sure people can step back enough from the item to get a proper look at without bumping into anything. When you create a tabletop display, you give customers ample space to bypass and pause without blocking another customer’s path. When people need to read something, give them a convenient way to do it (and no, this isn’t specific to bookstores). The same goes for trying on – even for jewelry that makes people turn around in front of a mirror.

And most importantly, don’t stack items that people can drop to the floor with an unfortunate touch. Before you say you’re done, put yourself in the shoes of your customers, interact with the display, and tweak it accordingly.

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Mistake # 4: Market only the expensive stuff

Of course, you want to showcase the best items in your store. But people come to a store for all sorts of reasons – to buy something in particular, look for a gift, get advice, look for a bargain, waste time until their kid finishes at the arcade – and yours visual merchandising should have something for everyone. If not, you can lose potential sales.

Group complementary items at different prices. Add ads near entry and exit points. Put compelling POS displays near the cash register and in places where people can interact with your reps (which can get them to make a purchase). Use a pedestal to demonstrate your store’s resistance, but use it wisely – not only can it draw attention to the item on the pedestal itself, but it can also draw attention to a path lined with other goodies.

Mistake # 5: showing what you don’t have available

Another common mistake in visual merchandising is presenting a product that you are not making available for sale. It seems obvious, but “Sorry, we didn’t have this item in stock” is said about 10 million times a day (okay, I don’t really have statistics on it, but you know what I mean). If there is a product that you want to bring to their attention, make sure it’s available to your customers then and there – or give them a plausible reason why there isn’t (and there aren’t many of them) an ETA at the time you can get it and a way to let them know when it’s available. Then make it really, really easy for them by offering to have it shipped for free whenever possible.

Inventory risks are very real. Approximately 30% of consumers put inventory on their list of reasons their shopping experience was not up to par – a problem to your brand and a threat to your customer relationships. In this case, the same percentage will either leave the store without buying anything or buy the same item elsewhere.

Mistake # 6: waiting for the end of the day to clean up

Visual merchandising is about getting attention. If you’re successful, it means people are looking at and interacting with your display all day. You pick up objects and put them down again. They jog past tables and countertops. They leave fingerprints all over the showcases. All kinds of accidental chaos can occur – spilled drinks, thrown objects, opened boxes, breakage, and more (shudder).

It is imperative that you send a representative on a regular basis to improve every visual display in your store. ServiceChannel reports that 70% of customers recently had a negative experience and a messy store is high on the list of “ick” factors. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. When a roving employee is moving, this is an additional opportunity to interact with customers or observe their behavior. Both open up opportunities for more sales.

Stop making these common visual merchandising mistakes

Visual merchandising is an effective way to increase sales in store when done right. And that really boils down to one thing: customers can easily browse in a pleasant environment and find the items they want.

CONNECTED: If physical retail stores want to stay nearby, they still have to go digital

About the author

Contribution by: Ray Ko

Ray Ko is Senior E-Commerce Manager at ShopPOPDisplays. With years of retail experience, Ray is an expert in formulating and implementing e-commerce strategies to drive sales.

Company: ShopPOPDisplays
Website: www.shoppopdisplays.com

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