“All stores have doors, customers come in through the windows.”
Question: when was the last time you had a memorable shopping experience? When I say “memorable”, I mean was it your interaction with an exceptional salesperson, a product that captivated you, a certain smell that transported you somewhere (good or bad), a display that made you wonder, “how’d they do that?” a particular song that was playing that had you groovin’ in the aisles, or any combination of the above?
I have had several memorable shopping experiences. One in particular comes to mind. I was in NYC last March and stopped in one of my favorite stores, Fishs Eddy, a funky mix of vintage dishware, kitschy kitchen items and collections of endless glassware. Not to mention their consistently ingenious window displays. And great music. On this particular day, Drinks After Work, by Toby Keith, was playing. I don’t listen to country music but this song had such good hooks and goofy lyrics, I recall an overwhelming feeling of joy while shopping for dishtowels. It was the heady combination of engaging several senses at once – sight, sound and touch.
A few of my favorite things…..Fishs Eddy in NYC
Foot traffic continues to decline at the brick and mortar level. Adobe Digital Insights, which publishes research on digital marketing, reported on December 1, 2016, a 15% increase in online sales from Thanksgiving day to Cyber Monday over the same time period last year. Brick and mortar holiday sales were predicted to fall, and indeed they did. Traffic was down roughly 3% from last year. We hear a lot of talk around the water cooler about the importance of creating an experience in physical stores that can’t be replicated online. Visual merchandising plays an enormous role in executing that wow experience.
By the 1970’s, visual merchandising was accepted as a vital part of retail operations. Visual merchandising as a discipline is relevant to a company’s sales and marketing efforts, aiming to influence potential shoppers with clear product communication. Sales strategies for a business can be achieved with quantifiable metrics through effective merchandising. Consumer perception can be altered with effective merchandising, conveying the concept that a certain product holds value via a powerful display. Website www.retailworksinc.com estimates that effective merchandising can increase sales by 10-15%.
Below is a link to a video from The Business of Fashion website about the store of the future posted last March 2016. The segment centers on three luxury retail brands discussing the future of retail. When asked her thoughts on the future of retail, one of the panelists said that four words came to mind; emotion, creativity, authenticity and discovery. I think this is very important, as visual merchandising encompasses and embraces these four words perfectly.
- Emotion – connecting consumer and product.
- Creativity – crafting a unique, in store experience that stands out from the competition.
- Authenticity – knowing your customer and being true to your core beliefs.
- Discovery – again, connecting the consumer with product, through education and transparency.
So, what can we expect from stores in the future? According to Doug Stephens, founder of Retail Prophet, “the shift from products to experiences will overturn current retail business models. ‘The store is evolving from being a distribution channel to becoming a media channel,’ he says. In the future, the best retailers will ‘charge brands an upfront media fee to be incorporated into the store experience,’ Stephens predicts.”
Visual merchandising will continue to evolve along with brick and mortar’s future. If we can keep up with technology and consumer’s demands, the outlook continues to be bright.