Visual Merchandising means different things to different retailers. So, lets start with a definition from Wikipedia: “Visual Merchandising is creating visual displays and arranging merchandise assortments within a store to improve the layout and presentation and to increase traffic and sales.” and “Visual merchandising is the art of displaying merchandise in a manner that is appealing to the eyes of the customer.” Now having said those things, lets discuss the trends of visual merchandising today.
Visual merchandising trends are constantly fluctuating because retail is always changing. The challenge for retailers is to react to the evolving needs and wants of their customers. Visual elements in a retail store have always been very important in attracting and keeping consumers. But in the past, visual merchandising trends dictated that featured merchandising be used primarily to promote sale prices. End caps were and still are, used for this purpose. However, twenty years ago the visual merchandising trend was to bulk stack end caps promoting prices on single items. Today retailers often use end caps to promote new items and to inform customers of those items’ specific purposes or benefits.
End caps today are also more attractive. The visual merchandising trends of today find retailers using end cap fixtures, lighting and color to highlight featured products. Visual merchandising trends have also influenced the way store aisles are merchandised. Focal points are often developed in the middle of categories or aisle runs. This is referred to as micro-merchandising. Sections of particular groups or products are featured by changing the type or color of fixture on which those products reside. Visual merchandising trends have also led retailers to sometimes include radius shelving in their product sets. Radii shelving are shelves with rounded front edges. When used as feature elements, they extend past the straight front of neighboring shelf sections. Product visuals are improved and the items featured have an distinct advantage over products that are adjacent and not featured.
Current visual merchandising trends have seen overall fixture heights drop in many stores. By dropping fixture heights customers can be enticed visually to explore other areas of the store.
Today, retailers use visual cues to guide customers through their stores for the purpose of increasing unplanned purchases. New store layouts not only use visuals to plan fixture placement, they also use visual merchandising techniques to design store décor. Visual merchandising trends have definitely influenced store signage. Retail store signs have gone from Styrofoam letters glued to a wall to colorful high impact three dimensional graphics. Even now we are seeing a shift in visual décor. Visual merchandising in stores is going digital. Flat screen TV’s are being utilized everywhere, not only presenting products in full color, but also communicating and in a very literal sense, selling. These digital signs are like having another salesperson on the floor.
Visual merchandising trends have led to merchandising that improves profitability and exposes shoppers to more key elements within a store. Visual merchandising is just one of the essential elements of the discovery process. In the book Discovery-Based Retail, you will be encouraged to analyze every part of your store. The more you discover, the more effective you’ll become.