Visual merchandisers are the masterminds behind the stunning window displays that we see every day on the high street. These individuals are influencers who convince us to spend our money, whether it's on a new product we've seen in the window or more subtly by the way products are arranged on the rail.
We went behind the scenes with Ted Baker’s Visual Merchandiser, Lauren, to find out more about the psychology behind this marketing phenomenon and learn how to build a successful rail.
Rachel: What is the importance of Visual Merchandising in stores?
Lauren: Having a VM is extremely important, as it inspires customers by giving them a unique experience. A good window display draws in a crowd and encourages them to visit the store, which will mostly result in sales. VMs also help drive categories that are slumping, by money mapping, which allows us to see which rails are preforming successfully. We will then rearrange rails, as it may be due to some categories not being as visible as others. This will ensure that these are the first thing that a customer will see when they arrive in a store.
Rachel: What impact can Visual Merchandising have on consumers?
Lauren: What consumers don’t know is that we are subconsciously influencing them to buy our clothes by staging rails. For example, we will place certain items together, such as jeans and tops, so that the customer will see how well they go together and take them both - they then think they have built their own outfit. By using the rule of three method, in which you place the same products near each other, it acts as a psychological influence - the more you see a product, the more likely you are to buy it.
Rachel: What skills do you need to be a VM?
Lauren: You definitely need to be creative and have a passion for VM. I would say that a VM should also be confident in their own abilities and trust their judgement. You also need to be independent as a VM is often working on their own. You also really need to know your customers, who have specific needs dependent on their location. Also, they shouldn’t be afraid of experimenting; this can make all the difference!
Rachel: What are the key requirements in portraying a brand?
Lauren: VMs should be commercially-minded when portraying a brand, so that they are aware of current trends and other competitors. Keeping up to date with bloggers is important as they may be promoting something that is becoming increasingly popular which could be incorporated into a window display.
What consumers don’t know is that we are subconsciously influencing them to buy our clothes by staging rails.
Rachel: What aspect do you love most about VM?
Lauren: I love the creativity and freedom, as it enables us to give customers the ultimate experience. I also find the commercial side of VM very interesting.
Rachel: What are the changes you have seen in VM since you started?
Lauren: Probably the biggest change I have seen in VM is the rise of bloggers. With their vast following, they can have quite an impact on promoting individual items that are on offer at a particular brand.
Rachel: So, how do you build a rail?
Lauren: It’s important to make a rail look as exciting and eye-catching as possible. One way to do this is by using minimal colours that are punchy and strong so that they appeal to everyone. You need to make sure that the colours are evenly distributed, so they look symmetrical and having a similar length dispersed is important, as it makes the rail look tidy and well thought-out. I also like the use of props and decorations which grab the customer’s attention and initiate conversation with team members.
With the art of arranging products to boost sales having become its own specialised role, it is clear that businesses are well aware that consumers shop with their eyes and that a little guidance from a Visual Merchandiser can go a long way.
Anna is an outlet and retail specialist, providing recruitment, consulting and leasing services through her company Intense Retail.