Re-inventing the art of selling products

Visual merchandising in retail, they buy with their eyes.

Visual merchandising is the art (and science) of displaying the products you sell, in a way that make people want to buy them.

As the term says (visual), it must appeal to the eyes of the customer. This is the part of art. That’s why, usually the best visual merchandisers are designers or even architects.

But it is possible to make great visual displays even if you’re not a designer or architect. The secret – copying others.

That’s right. You don’t have to feel guilty. Everyone copies. You can call it inspiration, if you want.

The technique of copying is such an important matter in business, that it has a name – benchmarking.

From eyes to hand

Even though, visual merchandising uses the eyes to make people stare at the products, it is only the first step.

And that’s where science enters.

You have to make people want to touch, grab and pick the products.

The eyes are important. No doubt about that. But, it’s the hands that give the feeling of possession. And you want to make customers feel they want to own the products.

Sometimes, what makes people look and what makes people touch, is different. In my life in retailing I have seen many no designers, making a better job than designers.

You have to know your store, your products, and your customers to make them pick the products.

From hand to pockets

Of course, the last step is to make your customers want to go to their pockets, open the wallets and pay for the products.

This is very important.

Sometimes, you think you have a great visual merchandising display. You say “it’s beautiful”, but then the customers don’t buy a lot.

The lesson. A good visual merchandising is the one that makes sales. Not the most beautiful. Never, never forget that.

And this is a good thing. You cannot measure the beautiful, but you can measure sales.

Visual merchandising is a science and an art.

Visual merchandising is not only products

The big secret, great merchandisers have is to not rely only in the products.

If you tried to make a nice visual merchandising display (by copying others), and found the result are far from the original, it’s because you’re not using the secret.

And the secret is to use other fixtures to help display the merchandise.

These fixtures can be:

  • decoration objects
  • pictures
  • lightning
  • furniture
  • etc

Tip: Search for visual merchandising images and make a list of possible fixtures to use in your store.

Types of display in visual merchandising (sorting products)

Imagine you are in your store. There’s no products being displayed. They are all in boxes.

How are you going to sort the products?

It’s not easy, but there are some types of display that can help you.

Again, see what others are doing. Not your competitors. Never.

You don’t want to be the follower. You want to be the leader.

Go to the internet. Use google, or pinterest. Or better, travel to a bigger city, or a bigger country. See what they are doing. Focus on the visual merchandising. See if people, in the store, are looking and picking the products.

So, let’s see those types of display, shall we?

  • By family of products. You can put the shirts all together. The dresses all together. And so on. The great advantage, it helps customers search for products. The great disadvantage, makes it difficult to up-sell or cross-sell.
  • By colors. And by colors I don’t mean putting all green clothes in the same display. No. By colors, I mean, mixing products that have colors easy to combine. You can put green clothes with gray or black. And then, blue, red and white. And so on. The advantage, it helps to cross-sell. Also, if done right, it is very appealing for the eyes. The disadvantage, it’s a difficult job. But it can be done, because someone did it.
  • By genre. You can think of why your customers buy from you. You can separate the merchandise by “why”. Put all the clothes that can be used to go out at night, all together. Than put all the clothes to use at work in another corner. And maybe, another corner for casual clothes. Another genre type of sorting is by demographics (sex, age)
  • By size. You can put all S sizes together. The same for sizes M, L, XL, etc. This is not a common sorting. But it should be used more often. It is very useful at the end of the sale season, when it is difficult to find the right size.

 And of course you can, and should, combine different types of sorting.

For example, you can sort by genre, and then, by color. So, the number of combinations is huge.

Once again, see what other stores are doing, and see if it is good for your store. And by being good, I mean, maximize the sales.


Visual merchandising in retail, they buy with their eyes.
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