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Pile It High and Watch It Fly

Posted by on in Visual Merchandising
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Have you ever gone into a shop to buy a single item and let with a cartload of things you hadn't intended to buy? Congratulations! You have fallen victim to some other retailers' merchandising strategy. shopping trolleyWhen a shop is merchandised well this becomes a common occurrence.

Visual merchandise is projected on entry to the shop and you need to direct the prospective customer's eyes and feet to a successful sale.

So let's look at some of the things you can do:


A customer has seen your special promotion in the window, enters your shop and turns which way? You need to monitor your customer flow: Do they generally turn right, left or stop and look puzzled? Watch the customer flow and gauge reactions to your layout.

You should strategically display the merchandise that you are selling and make sure the new range of merchandise is easily spotted. Let's start to organise your interior.



Customers expect to find the basics in your shop or they will go elsewhere. Check your competitors. You will have fast sellers but most of your demand merchandise will sell moderately well week on week.


A customer enters the shop to buy something specific. The merchandise should have immediate impact. (If you have a large shop, as a minimum you must have clear directional signage that points the way to the merchandise). Not hide, seek and eventually find!


Check out your hot spot areas for impulse buying and be prepared to change merchandise regularly to link with your promotions. Over time this will establish you as a reliable specialist.

Next time you walk into your shop you should consider the layout and the holistic environment and ask yourself a series of questions.

The principles of good display and design should apply:
use of balance
grouping of products
control of the eye by lines of sight etc.
But consider also that all display from the window through to the interior should play a major part in your merchandising. Walk around your shop and consider how the overall presentation could be improved and, remember, attention to detail is good housekeeping.

It is also important to involve your staff and open their eyes to the importance of maintaining presentations.


How do you make your product the star? It's easy when your merchandising involves each of your customer's five senses.


If your shop is 'deathly' quiet then you may be missing out on sales. The music you play in your shop does more than entertain shoppers - it provides a background that entices them to stay longer and buy more. I like music that gives shoppers a psychological lift. Your aim is for your shoppers, young or old, to smile. Another plus: the right music can make your staff more efficient, so if they're dragging at the end of the day, crank up the tunes.

You might want to consider categorising your playlist into:

Energy: (when you need t crank it up and get customers + staff moving)
Cruisy: (when you want pleasant background music)
Rainy: (when you want rain. Pick every song with the word rain in the lyrics)
Summery: (when you've OVER winter and can't wait for the longer days of summer)
Music that appeals to Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y etc.

Make up your own categories and recognise that you could be playing different categories of music throughout the same day ... depending on the age mix of your customers and when they choose to shop.

Tip: Let your staff have a turn choosing some of the music. Just make sure that every lyric is given the third degree before you add it to your playlist.

AND, ensure you give someone responsibility for the music on a daily/weekly basis.


If you sell food, this is a no brainer. But even if you don't, it's not a problem if you make food part of your nursery experience. Place cold drinks near the front door to welcome shoppers on hot days. Do the same thing in winter, replacing the cold drinks with hot coffee or hot chocolate. Offer free bottles of water customised with your shop's own label. Host a wine tasting, Partner with a local restaurant for an in-store event. The ideas are endless. Just remember that when customers try, they usually buy, so while their mouths are full, stick a cool product in their hands.


Remember that old retail adage: "If it smells, it sells"? Turns out it's true. Researchers have found that a pleasant-smelling environment has a positive effect on shopping behaviour. We all respond to good scents, maybe because they have the power to evoke memory. We've all gotten a whiff of something familiar and have been instantly transported to another place in time. That's what made aromatherapy so popular.

Now we have Aromacology: the science of scents and their effect on our minds and moods. Grapefruit, for example, will give shoppers more energy; vanilla will calm them when the shop is hectic; pine will inspire positive feelings; and, cinnamon is said to attract money. So put out the potpourri so that its scent permeates the air, or better yet, purchase scent diffusers and place them throughout the shop.


Shopping should be a pleasure for everyone involved - customers, staff and business owners - never a chore.  I spend my time working with retail business owners - helping them love their businesses back to life!  This blog is my thoughts, ideas, tips and  musings on what I find...