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Instant Gratification: 3 Visual Merchandising Tips You Can Use Today

October 30, 2017 | 0 Comments

In the world of retail, “experiential retail” has been a growing trend for the past several years.

Retailers with deeper pockets have been investing in experiential-based technology such as virtual dressing rooms, augmented reality, mobile apps and tracking systems — along with the capability for vast consumer data collection and analysis.

But for shops that might be unable or unwilling to shell out the cash commitment to install these systems, refreshing our merchandising best practices in order to differentiate from the rest of the snowsports and specialty retail herd is a timely exercise.

Be that store where one can meet the owner, or chat with a knowledgeable employee about the virtues of Gore-Tex as they tell you about their most recent trip to Alaska – things that be can’t replicated electronically.

Experiential retail is “hands on and authentic,” says Maria Sicola, a San Francisco-based research consultant. If it’s not feasible to install a screening room or a coffee bar into your shop, there are ways to draw shoppers in using tactile, sensory methods. This means appealing to their desire to touch, smell and feel products. These top three tips are instant ways to enhance the brick and mortar experience that relies on using our senses, not sensors.

1. Go with the flow: Maximize traffic direction

By placing the table display to the right of the center pillar, you encourage traffic to flow left, toward the center and back of the store. Now if you simply move the tables to the left, you force traffic to the right.

Whether it’s how we park our cars or structural obstacles that may be part of a store’s exterior such as pillars, flow determines how we enter and move through a store.

If your front doors are centered with the rest of the store’s interior – meaning shoppers enter in a straight line – they have the option to turn right or left. Since research shows that close to 70 percent of people are right handed, the tendency to turn right is a natural choice. If your front doors are offset to the left or right, you may have more control to direct traffic since customers don’t have a clear option to go straight.

This is when “speed bumps,” purposefully placed obstacles meant to slow down shoppers, are used to direct traffic. Find the time to play around with fixtures, mannequins, signs and displays to drive traffic in different directions.

2. Curb appeal: Do you have any?

A well tended garden and front yard help sell a house. The same concept applies to the exterior of your store. If your store has no outside appeal, shoppers may assume the same will be true with the inside. If the outside is inviting, your potential customer can only assume that well-executed curb appeal is a preview to what kind of experience they are going to have inside the store. This can be as simple as picking up a few potted plants and sticking them in a nice looking weather-resistant planter box.

3. Lighting

According to an article by George Blitzer of, there are uniform, and non-uniform light distribution options. He says that an unpleasant visual experience comes from exclusively using all ceiling lighting, with uniform distribution of brightness…”that make it difficult to see products and glares, accenting everything but highlighting nothing.”

Non-uniform lighting creates a sense of well-being, enhances colors, shapes and textures of merchandise. Good non-uniform lighting can help a shopper navigate your store, influencing their mood and purchasing decisions. Effective lighting should highlight the cash wrap area, dressing rooms, and window displays. Where can you pick up some affordable lights? Target, Home Depot and Ikea are a few options. And, don’t neglect display cases, which can spawn impulse purchases.

Use these three tips as motivating opportunities to make some changes to your shop if you have been mulling how to quickly refresh your look. Instant gratification is just around the well-merchandised corner.

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