Of the various aspects of my job in retail management, I truly enjoy everything, even I.T. and maintenance, but one of my true loves is visual merchandising. For the layman, ‘visual merchandising’ means displaying products in a way that looks good, makes a store easy to shop, and encourages customers to actually purchase said displayed items.
It is a creative outlet that inspires me, saves my own home from being redecorated on a weekly basis, (even though I do have all of my furniture on the same sliders I use at work so I can rearrange my home floor-plans at will, as in right now in the middle of this post when I realized my gossip bench would fit nicely in an unused corner.) and if done correctly, promotes and increases product sales.
Visual Merchandising is both a gift as well as a learned skill, and a good indication that you might appreciate or be good at it is that any of the following are true:
A.) You love to look at the windows in the Ralph Lauren store but have never actually purchased anything there.
B.) You visit Anthropologie to check out how they are using shipping pallets/tissue paper/cardboard and not to see what teacups/necklaces/soap dishes they have in stock.
C.) When you were in Paris/Milan/NYC, you took as many (or more) pictures of the store windows of Givenchy/Dolce & Gabbana/Marc Jacobs as you did of the Eiffel Tower/La Scala/Central Park.
D.) While you are shopping in Pier One, you notice bare spots in displays and either realize something must have just sold or mentally search for something else on a nearby shelf that would go nicely within the display.
Father’s Day is usually a quiet day at the shop and since no displays are due to be changed until next month, I used some of my time this afternoon to add a bit of whimsy to various displays around the store. Not surprisingly, my quirky “captions” initiated smiles and conversation among shoppers. It didn’t take long for customers to start hunting each display looking for more captioned figurines, drawing their interest to areas they weren’t intending to shop. Within a day or two, I had even sold out of two of the items featured.
“Oh, ‘washer first, then nut’, read Rodney. “No wonder I feel like my head isn’t screwed on straight!”
“Carmine and Marcel’s relationship could certainly be classified under “Its Complicated.”
Here is an easy retail tip you can start using right away: Lead with a free gift! (Jason Statham agrees with me)
If it is Father’s Day and some patient papa is getting dragged into your store by his wife and daughter who saw your “Jewelry Sale” sign in the window on the way home from brunch, for heaven’s sake, give that man a free gift, a comfy chair, and a cold bottle of water “just because it is Father’s Day”. He’ll be so appreciative you recognized his needs you may very well see him back to shop for his gals every Christmas, birthday, and Valentine’s Day. Not only are you doing your part to be kind to other humans, but in sales, the proof of the return on letting every customer know they are important is made evident by our store’s male customer base being 20-25%, which is significantly higher than the national average of 5-10% for a store like ours.