What Does a Visual Merchandiser Do?

visual merchandisingResponsibilities of a visual merchandiser start with creating what can be seen by the customer outside and then inside of the store through the window, with the goal of attracting the attention of the customer and enticing them to come into the store. Once you have accomplished that, the interior displays push sales. This can be achieved by designing a retail store that will inspire, educate, and grow your brand image. It has been proven that interior and exterior displays have the biggest influence on impulse buying, and purchasing decisions. With so much retail competition it is vital to consider the importance of visual merchandising and the retail display’s to stand out and add value to your store as well as your brand.

The main focus of retail visual merchandising should be to inspire and show customers; how to wear or use a product, how multiple pieces of merchandise can be used together and most importantly make them feel like they need it.

Your other goal in visual merchandising is to keep your customers in the store as long as possible. This can be achieved by having an amazing in-store design, which enhances the atmosphere of your store retail environment. Providing your customers with wonderful buying experience is what will keep them coming back into the store.

Elements of Visual Merchandising used to create effective displays include; lighting, color, product information, technology, space, and environment (touch, smell, and sound). You want to awaken the customer’s senses and capture their attention by creating something memorable!

The Do and Don’ts of Visual Merchandising

Visual Merchandising Techniques

visual merchandisingLighting

Lighting is a critical part of visual merchandising because it increases the visibility of the merchandise in the store as well as allows you to highlight certain areas to bring more attention to displays. It also plays a major role in the atmosphere that is created in the retail space.


The function of your fixtures does not have to come at the cost of style, as a visual merchandiser it is important to make sure that you are finding fixtures that present your merchandise in the best way possible while keeping the aesthetic of the store in mind.

Use of Color and its Effects

From planning your window display to creating product collections for your in-store displays, colors are an important tool when visual merchandising since it can influence the behavior of your customers and trigger different emotional responses. Learn about the different emotional responses that we have as a result of color and the effects that it can have on branding as well.

The Power of Flowers

Flowers have been proven to make people feel comfortable, relaxed and it brings a lot of ambiance to your store. Along with its visual advantages, the scent is also an important element that contributes to the visual merchandising of your store as well.

Storytelling and Themes are Shown Through Visual Conceptsvisual merchandising

Storytelling in visual merchandising is a way to inspire your customers through a certain style, and trigger a feeling of desire. This can be done by conveying a theme by the way the right collection of products are laid out, along with props, and signage.

Signage and Graphics

Visual merchandising is also about telling a story if your brand or product has something special about it that adds value or justifies a high price tag it is important to make that apparent to the customer, so they can better understand the product and enable them to make a buying decision. It is also a great way to promote offers that might go unknown to a shopper. Signage sells merchandise but it is important that your signage is not taking away from the aesthetics of your space.

Retail Environment, Enhance the Ambiance of your Store

Research shows that customers are willing to pay more for merchandise if it is purchased in a nice retail environment where they have had a good retail experience.

Changing your displays often and keep your store’s physical appearance fresh

This is important to bring back in existing customers who have are interested in what new items you might have. Even if you don’t have new merchandise you can at least appear to have a new assortment of changing things around and the customer might discover something new which they had missed before. This also allows you to experiment and try out different displays and see what visual merchandising techniques work best for your store and what draws in customers most.

Trend Research- Capitalize Early on Trends

An easy way to get visual merchandising ideas and stay ahead of your competition is to actively do trend research.

visual merchandisingWindow Displays

Visual merchandising window displays is critical since your window display is a billboard for your store and should be a direct reflection of your brand and style. Through your visual merchandising techniques you can attract more customers into your store and inspire them to make a purchase.

Use of Mannequins

Mannequins give you the opportunity to cross merchandise your apparel to create a complete look that should grab your customer’s attention and make them want to buy the entire outfit. The look of your mannequins should be something that you think your customers can identify themselves with since there is an idolized effect and they often aspire to look like them when they see something they like.

Apply the Elements & Principles of Design

No matter what you do creatively it is important to follow these guidelines when visual merchandising since they are at the core of all good design. The elements of design are line, shape, form, size, space, color, value and texture. While the principle of design is; novelty, variety, harmony, unity, balance, proportion, emphasis, contrast, rhythm, and pattern.

Use of Planograms

Placement of your merchandise is important because it helps you maximize sales and minimize wasted space. Visual Merchandising and store design should also be done using planograms to help you create a layout strategy which allows you to plan which fixtures, props, and merchandise you are placing where to make sure you are making the most of your stock. There are a few tools that will allow you to design a store layout free.

Take advantage of Technology

Technology provides many benefits as well as different possibilities on how to visual merchandise. iPads, for instance, are a great way to display lifestyle videography which adds value to the merchandise since it inspires and helps the customer visualize how they can experience the brand. Your options can range from high to low tech, which you choose will depend on your merchandise as well as what you want to achieve in your retail space.

Visual Merchandising Tips

  • Create a focal point
  • Expose customers to the maximum amount of merchandise
  • Turn your products into art
  • Using symmetry in your displays
  • Use variation to support your theme
  • Give enough space
  • Take advantage of holidays and themes
  • Offer places to sit
  • Your merchandising should show motion, not just static imagery
  • Assortment, your visual merchandising should show depth in your presentation of multiple product offerings.
  • Your store should carry a theme throughout the entire store
  • Attract sales by leading the customer through the entire store and have discounted merchandise is in the back
  • Rule of 3
  • Pyramid Principle
  • Utilize different techniques

Types of Visual Merchandising

Shelf Displays

Utilise the space you have on your shelves wisely to show as many products as you can while leaving lots of breathing room making it easier for the customer to shop

  • Don’t clutter your products, leave room for your merchandise to breathe making it easier to see and nicer experience to shopvisual merchandising
  • Put really desirable or eye-catching products at the front of the store to lure people in
  • Your best products should be at eye level and knee level
  • The most profitable items should be at eye level
  • For children’s merchandise, it should be at a child’s eye level

Stock Displays

Encourage cross-selling by grouping together merchandise that goes together or is related to each other. These displays should be in the premium spaces in your store

  • To encourage add-on sales merchandise similar products together – for example, merchandise an evening dress with, elegant shoes, purses, and jewelry to complete the look
  • Group together merchandise that is different but related to each other to make companion sales- for example, include all the elements of a dining table set up; cutlery, table linens, vases, serving boards, tableware, and napkin rings to complete the entire category
  • Change the displays often and cycle in new merchandise 

Interior Displays

Also known as in-store visual merchandising is based on utilizing your space effectively to get the customers attention and help them in their purchase decision making process, which is why it is one of the most important elements in retailing since it will maximize your sales.

  • Interior display presentation includes the following; point of purchases displays, item display, assortment display, signage, store design and store layout

Seasonal and Theme Displays

Merchandising your window displays based on consumer-based holidays and seasonal events or themes are a great way to encourage shopping by reminding customers to purchase gifts or helping them get gift ideas.

  • Create inspirational seasonal displays that spark gift ideas for shoppers
  • Themes could include; summer, wedding season, back to school, new year’s, and the super bowl
  • Holidays; Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Father’s/ Mother’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, Halloween, and 4th of July

Window displays

Your window displays should be attention grabbing but also reflect your stores’ personality and style.

  • Have themes and play on the seasons
  • Utilise props, images, signage, and merchandise
  • Create new window displays regularly
  • The store’s interior theme should  match the windows as well

Trend-based Displays

Window displays can be used to set trends or elaborate on trends that are in focus at the moment, which is why visual merchandisers must be trend focused and do research to stay ahead and be able to predict fashion movements.

  • Merchandise should convey the trends to the customers in a way that they can understand
  • Use props that lend to trends and bring attention to it, as well as inspire the customer in a way that makes them identify with it

Merchandising Techniques

There are a number of ways that you can merchandise your products, here are a few of these techniques.

Horizontal Merchandising

Your key products should be in the line of sight of your customers, so these items should be merchandised horizontally.

Vertical Merchandising

This method exposes customers to more products by utilizing more space and placing your merchandise in vertical columns.

Pyramid Merchandising

Is a visually appealing and interesting way to display your merchandise that creates movement and draws the customers eyes downward.

Live Merchandising

This is the best approach to merchandising a display since it allows the customers to imagine themselves in this setting using your products or gives them ideas of how they can use it for their own decorating purposes. Another take on live merchandising which some retailers have done is to have real people in window displays or outside of their store wearing or using products. Examples include Made (selling interior products) having two girls in one of their beds in the window display or Abercrombie having their sales staff wearing their clothes posing outside or at the entrance of the store.

Hero Merchandising

Creating a display that focuses on just one product to highlight it.

Visual Merchandising Tools

  1. Correct Lighting
  2. Decoration and Props
  3. Mannequinsvisual merchandising
  4. Signage and Graphics
  5. Fixtures
  6. Two-Sided Tape
  7. Utility Knife
  8. Glue Gun and Hot Glue Sticks
  9. Dress Makers’ Pins
  10. Display tables, boxes
  11. Fishing line
  12. Steamer
  13. Sign and Tabletop Poster Holders