Visual merchandising

Visual merchandising

Visual merchandising, until recently called simply merchandising, is the "activity of promoting the sale of goods, especially by their presentation in retail outlets".(New Oxford Dictionary of English, 1999, Oxford University Press). This includes combining product, environment, and space into a stimulating and engaging display to encourage the sale of a product or service.

Many elements can be used by visual merchandisers in creating displays, including colour, lighting, space, product information, sensory inputs such as smell, touch, and sound as well as technologies such as digital displays and interactive installations.

Visual merchandising is not a science; there are no absolute rules. It is more like an art in the sense that there are implicit rules but that these also exist to be broken for striking effects. The main principle of visual merchandising is that it is intended to increase sales, which is not the case with a "real" art.

Visual merchandising is one of the final stages in trying to set out a store in a way that customers will find attractive and appealing and it should follow and reflect the principles that underpin the store’s image. Visual merchandising is the way one displays 'goods for sale' in the most attractive manner with the end purpose of making a sale. "If it does not sell, it is not visual merchandising."

Especially in today’s challenging economy, people may avoid designers/ visual merchandisers because they fear unmanageable costs. But in reality, visual merchandisers can help economise by avoiding costly mistakes. With guidance of a professional, retailer can eliminate errors, saving time and money. It is important to understand that the visual merchandiser is there, not to impose ideas, but to help clients articulate their own personal style.

Visual merchandising is the art of implementing effective design ideas to increase store traffic and sales volume. VM is an art and science of displaying merchandise to enable maximum sale. VM is a tool to achieve sales and targets, a tool to enhance merchandise on the floor, and a mechanism to communicate to a customer and influence his decision to buy. VM uses season based displays to introduce new arrivals to customers, and thus increase conversions through a planned and systematic approach by displaying stocks available.

Recently visual merchandising has gained in importance as a quick and cost effective way to revamp retail stores.

A close sister to visual merchandising is "retail experience". "Customer experience" looks at the same issues around product presentation but from the customer perspective, rather than the retailer perspective. In optimal retail environments such as the Apple Retail Stores, the visual merchandising, customer experience, and store design are all in synch creating amazing environments and unbelievable sales.


Retail professionals display to make the shopping experience more comfortable, convenient and customer friendly by:
*Making it easier for the shopper to locate the desired category and merchandise.
*Making it easier for the shopper to self-select.
*Making it possible for the shopper to co-ordinate & accessorise.
*Providing information on sizes, colours & prices.
*Informing about the latest fashion trends by highlighting them at strategic locations.

Merchandise Presentation refers to most basic ways of presenting merchandise in an orderly, understandable, ’easy to shop’ and ‘find the product’ format.


Every shopkeeper and merchant's primary objective is to sell merchandise. When the giant nineteenth century dry goods establishments like Marshall Field & Co. shifted their business from wholesale to retail the visual display of goods became necessary to attract the retail customer. The store windows no longer simply allowed natural light to shine in the building or act as storage space for stock; they became important venues to attractively display the store's merchandise. Gradually, the design aesthetic used in window displays moved indoors and became part of the overall interior store design, eventually displacing the importance windows altogether in suburban malls.

Museums and department stores in America have a shared history of displaying their products, both having come of age in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Like world's fairs, department stores and museums crowded everything together on shelves or in display cases. Today displays in museums are referred to as exhibitions, while displays in stores are referred to as "Visual Merchandising. Essentially, visual merchandising is the selling of a store's goods through visual means, incorporating advertising, and window displays, and interior sales floor design and display. Throughout the twentieth century, well-known artists such as Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol created window displays, while other artists who are lesser known were commissioned to design unique objects specifically for visual merchandising purposes.

1. Sell by showing and promoting.2. Encourage the shopper to enter the store.3. Get the customer to pause and “shop” the selling floor.4. Establish, promote, and enhance the store’s visual image.5. Entertain customers and enhance their shopping experience.6. Introduce and explain new products.



A Planogram allows planning of the arrangement of merchandise on a given fixture configuration to support sales through proper placement of merchandise by Style, Option, Size, Price points, etc...

The main purpose is to support ease of selection & enhance the Merchandise in a neat, organized manner.

Window Displays

A window display is also known as a "visiting card". Windows are the most important factor within the store/shop front, communicating style, content, and price point. They can be seductive and exciting, based on emotional stimulus, or price-based (when they clearly emphasize value for money with easy and obvious ticketing). The window is one of a retailers most controllable elements in relation to image and to what is happening inside the store, but there are number of decisions to be made about a how these effects are achieved.

The best store windows can generate great excitement and talking point for an entire city. They contribute to the environment by entertaining pedestrians, while simultaneously communicating the products and services on offer.

For a retailer willing to exploit the full potential that a window gives, the image-building process can be exciting and have enormous potential. A fashion retailer, for instance, will often change a window weekly to show the latest items on offer. A glance into a shop's window by a passerby establishes the time of the year and, very likely, a timely contemporary event. It might combine seasonal points of the year such as Holi, Diwali, Valentines Day, Ganesh Chaturthi, Christmas or Mothers Day. At other times the propping may be based on color schemes, materials or cultural themes-the possibilities for innovative ideas around such themes are endless. -kind

Related Pages

*Fashion design
*Retail design
*Window dressing

ee Also


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