From the blog What Is Visual Merchandising and How Does It Help Profitability?

It’s easy to think of visual merchandising as a “nice to have” rather than an essential. But it’s more critical than you might know.

People process visual data better than any other type of data. In fact, 90% of the data we receive is visual. In part, that’s because we can process an image 60,000 times faster than we can process words.

And that’s why visual merchandising is a critical part of small business planning.

But that begs the question, what is visual merchandising? What does effective visual merchandising look like? And how do you get started?

What is visual merchandising?

Visual merchandising is a method of prioritizing product displays to make them as appealing as possible to customers. When products are displayed in a way that prompts engagement, customers are far more likely to take notice.

Good visual merchandising practices in a brick-and-mortar environment include proper use of colors, floor plans, interactive displays, videos, lightings, scents and more.

Visual merchandising is the best way to attract shoppers and increase sales.

An example of visual merchandising

Imagine walking by a chocolate store. As you get close, you can smell the decadent chocolate. You see different types of candy laid out in rows. One of your favorites is even on sale – there’s a sign in the store window.

You have to walk in. It’s just too appealing to pass by. And once you’re in the store, you’re going to buy some chocolate. Because now you can smell it. You can see everything on display.

In a matter of seconds, you’ve gone from walking past the store to deciding which chocolates you’ll buy.

What happened? The chocolate store caught your attention. The store engaged your sense of sight, your curiosity, your sense of nostalgia and, once you were inside, even your sense of smell.

Even before you walked into the store, you’d already made a buying decision. That’s the power of visual merchandising. (And chocolate.)

What are the most important elements of visual merchandising?

Okay, so you’re sold on visual merchandising. What are some specific things you can highlight to make your products more appealing?

Start with color

Use pops of color to catch the eye. An enticing color scheme can help pull customers in.

Decide on your focus

Once customers are at a display, make sure their eyes go where you want them to go. And how do you pick a focal point? Your focal point should be the product.

One of the best ways to draw customers toward your focal point is to tell a story with the display. Tell the story of how this product will make their life better. Or the story of how this product solves a problem. Any story – as long as it’s meaningful to your customer.

But don’t sacrifice quality for the sake of an eye-catching display. Displays should always be neat and tidy. Messy stores drive away customers and cause retail shrinkage.

Tell a story with your displays.

Why is visual merchandising important to your small business?

Visual merchandising is beneficial, pure and simple.

It makes your brand’s message clearer. It draws customers in and creates a positive shopping experience. It even boosts sales by helping people see the potential in your products.

And how does visual merchandising do all of that? Easy. It captures attention.

The average person’s attention span tops out at 8 seconds. But visual marketing helps increase message retention by 42%. And that’s why visual merchandising matters. It can literally make the difference between being noticed and being forgotten.

Visual merchandising techniques get your brand’s message out to your customers faster and with greater impact.

Visual merchandising ideas

Here are some specific, easy, low-cost ways to start using visual merchandising today.

1. Go green

An affordable, easy way to start visual merchandising today is to go out and buy a few plants to your store. Customers feel plants are warm and inviting. They have the extra benefit of improving indoor air quality and reducing stress.

2. Get all touchy-feely

One of the biggest reasons people shop in brick-and-mortar stores instead of online is the ability to touch and feel the items in person.

Create a display that encourages your target customers to pick up the products. In an electronic store, for example, it’s common to see laptops lined up next to each other. This encourages people to play with each model.

3. Invite interaction

Create an immersive retail display that engages the senses. Include scent, sound and touch, if possible.

To sell a soft autumn sweater, for example, you might create a display with a mannequin wearing the sweater. Beside the mannequin, decorate the display with fall trees. Burn a cinnamon apple cider candle to engage the nose. Create all the cozy fall elements you can right there in your store.

4. Mix it up

You can also incorporate cross-merchandising techniques to increase sales.

Continuing with the sweater example from above, you could also include accessories and shoes to round out an entire outfit. Have all those items included in the Fall display. This encourages customers to purchase multiple pieces rather than just the sweater.

Get started today

Visual merchandising is important, but it can feel like a non-essential in the day-to-day of running a business. It’s one of those things that’s easy to put off… or never do.

If you’re serious about boosting sales and growing your business, you need to be serious about how you present your products. Solid visual merchandising makes a difference. Take the time to look for opportunities to up your visual merchandising game right now.

This is one of the easiest things you can do to make your products and your store more memorable.

Are you ready to grow together?