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Creating Great Retail Displays

You don’t need to slash prices, invest in expensive advertising, or learn complex social media strategies in order to give your sales a boost. In fact, research from ad agency Olgilvy shows that price discounting “is not as effective a sales tool as that old stalwart: in-store displays,” and that “marketing mix analytics long have shown that display alone can drive sales.”

Yes, even in these days of online algorithms and CRM software, nothing succeeds like a colorful, eye-catching, well-lit display that showcases your product.

“Good visual merchandising is a mix of art, inspiration and science. While great visuals can sell lousy product, poor visuals can do nothing for great merchandise, " says Paco Underhill, in Why We Buy.
These Seven Steps can turn your displays to dollars.

1. Start with inspiration and imagination
Don’t worry if you’re not an artist! Spend just a little time online and you’ll find dozens of ideas. Start with something like https://www.pinterest.com/giftshopmag/display-inspiration/ and go from there. Let your imagination dream of a setting, and tell a story – about a vacation, a garden party, or a workout in the gym. Use sculpture, paintings or art objects to add a touch of class. Think of tie-ins with current sports, films, stars or best selling books. Try to imagine what your customer will love.

2. Remember a few basic design principles
Simplicity is key. Let your product shine by avoiding clutter and visual confusion. Remember the ancient pyramid shape with a strong base for stability, and tapered at the top. Use odd rather than even numbers. Even numbers create symmetry, but odd numbers create interest by forcing your eyes to move around. A set of three is more appealing and memorable than a pair. Repetition– of color, or different sizes of the same product – appeals in the same way as the repeated choruses of a song. Contrasting textures appeal to the sense of touch as well as to sight. 

3. Keep it clean and neat
Daily dusting and freshening ensures that products will look bright and clean. Creating the aspirational look of a beautiful home appeals to customers who hope to achieve the same results. Pick off dead leaves, polish fingerprints away, and generally make sure that the display looks as it should, even if customers are attracted to touch, remove, or rearrange items.

4. Change it up
As often as you can, change your displays. Feature new items as soon as possible. Use the change of seasons to create thematic approaches to displays. Whether you choose sports, holidays, nature, or recreational themes for displays, make repeated connections with your customers by telling new stories and offering merchandise in new settings

5. Put signage and labels to work for you
Signage helps you tell a story. A pretty sign that says “Baby Shower” or “Happy Holidays” can spark a customer to remember that they need a gift. “Friday Night Lights” or “Dad’s Day” allows you to group products together in a way that will appeal. Make sure pricing information is subtle but easy to see, since it saves your time answering simple questions and lets you focus on personal service.

6. Don’t neglect the impact of lighting
No matter how great your display looks, it won’t matter if customers don’t see it. Sean Hennessy, a Portland, Oregon, based lighting designer, says, “You always want the product to have the greatest amount of focus.” In addition to ambient lighting, consider accent lights from the ceiling, and specialty lighting. “What makes an interesting space is having different lighting on different levels,” Hennessy says. 

7. Add a little treat.
Everyone loves a little surprise, a party gift. If your budget allows, add wrapped Christmas candy to that display of holiday tableware. Pencils with your logo as part of a back-to-school display will spread your logo beyond the shop, into the neighborhood. Golf tees or guitar picks will appeal to hobbyists and their families. Make a small investment and see if it yields retail returns.
Visual merchandising shouldn’t be intimidating. Try these display tips, and let us know how they made a difference for you!