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The Importance of Visual Merchandising in Independent Retail and How to Do it Right
A half-empty case, gray with a thick layer of dust, glass smudged with fingerprints. Different products thrown haphazardly on shelves with no sense of organization. Labyrinthine layouts. Cheap displays. Grim lighting more appropriate for a haunted house than a retail store. Sloppy signs that look like they should be hanging on the refrigerator of a first grader’s parents.
It doesn’t matter how good the products on display are. If they’re presented like that, how much confidence is that store going to instill in a shopper? Merchandising doesn’t have to be that ridiculously haphazard to turn off potential customers. If it is incongruous with your overall identity or simply uninspiring, and customers will be looking elsewhere.
To turn your physical space into a rewarding experience for shoppers, pay attention to visual merchandising. Visual merchandising is about displaying your products in a visually interesting and appealing way in order to maximize sales.
Visual merchandising is even more important for independent retailers. Since you’re not competing with well-known major retailers on price or name recognition—and you don’t have their advertising budgets—the appearance and layout of your store is where new customers form their first impression, get to know who you are, and decide if they want to form a relationship with you.
Lighting is important for every type of retail space, but you already know how vital it is for jewelry stores. Different gemstones will take on different characteristics in different lighting. A poorly lit diamond can leave customers underwhelmed. You might even consider different lighting schemes for different parts of the store, as cool lighting complements silver and white gold, while warm lighting enhances yellow gold.
You probably already know how to effectively light a gemstone or piece of jewelry, but light and shadow can be used throughout the store for dramatic effect, drawing the eye.
You’re probably already adding value to your brand online through an entertaining and informative social media presence and blog posts on your website. Bring those same principles into the store through signage aimed at helping a customer make a decision. You might display an infographic on the source of your diamonds, or show some examples of what to wear a particular necklace with. Signage that is more than informational (“Sorry, We Are Closed,” “50% OFF!”) engages the customer and enhances the customer experience.
Merchandising is never something you are done with. Window displays must be updated frequently in order to attract new customers and give old ones a reason to come back. Updating window displays also shows customers that you have a vibrant, evolving, and interesting business. Window displays are an artform of their own, and they are one of the best ways to tell the customer a story.
Tell Your Story
Does your business have a long and storied history? Is it deeply enmeshed in the local community? Tell this story in both the interior and exterior layout of your store. Are you someone who prides yourself on bold and unusual designs? Extend that creativity to your displays. Your unique perspective and personality is part of your appeal as an independent retailer. Visual merchandising is an opportunity to show it off and create a brand identity, ensuring that you intrigue and interest the right customers.
However you approach visual merchandising, remember that you are asking customers to leave the comfort of their homes and come to your store to shop. Sure, you offer great products. But they can get great products online. What are you doing to make your store worth experiencing?