Imagine you are a customer who is coming to your store for the first time. What do you see? Visual merchandising is a fundamental concept every retailer should focus on to provide customers with the best possible shopping experience. Optimizing interior and exterior space and presenting it in an appealing format helps maximize sells and makes customers feel good when they shop with your business. As with most things in business, visual merchandising requires an investment of time, money, and a willingness to put forth the effort. However, when it’s done right, you’ll build a base of loyal customers who look forward to shopping with you, and who will happily share their experiences with family and friends.
When you’re in the home improvement business, it’s easy to believe that there are limited opportunities to incorporate visual merchandising concepts into your day-to-day operations. Yet, effective visual merchandise starts before customers walk through the front door. Most people understand why curb appeal matters when you own a home. However, it’s even more critical when you’re in business. Shoppers who are greeted by patches of unruly weeds growing between bricks are less enthusiastic about buying than those approaching a store with a well-maintained entryway.
Start with Informative Signage
One of the best ways to attract new shoppers and keep your current customers informed is with informative signage. These silent salespeople tell shoppers about your brand, products, and the interests or professions of the people you want as customers. Window and overhead signs help the people walking by your establishment determine if they’re going to enter or move on to the next business. A consumer survey conducted by a marketing solutions company offered some compelling insights about why retailers should make signage a high priority.
- Seventy-five percent (8 out of 10) were motivated to visit a store because of the signage
- Sixty-eight percent felt the signage reflected the quality of merchandise sold inside
- Sixty percent would no enter a store that did not display exterior signage
- Sixty percent of retailers say transactions, sales, and profits increased an average of 10 percent after making their signage more visible
For those retailers who are members of a large company or co-op, branding is the primary objective of large exterior signs. They promote your store 24/7 and leverage the advertising created on behalf of driving sells in local businesses. Make sure your signage is appropriately lit, has no misspelled words, or is faded and out-of-date.
Interior signage helps convince people to buy products after they enter the store. Here’s where retailers can be more creative or opt to use templated signs. These signs are guideposts that lead customers to specific products or inform them about product features and benefits that can seal the deal. You should be consistent in the type of signs you use and understand why a particular style was selected. Consider if the interior design of your store is rustic, or contemporary, or has a theme that reflects your community.
Set the Mood with Displays
Think of every part of your store as being an opportunity to create a display. The shelving, endcaps, and checkout areas can all be used to your advantage to sell more merchandise. Displays can be regularly updated to promote holiday-themed merchandise, tap into season trends, or new product launches. Placing displays stocked with impulse items near your checkout areas is a smart way to ring up add-on sales before customers exit the store.
Displays require planning and should be a team effort. The best way to manage the process is to divide your store into zones or allocate the work by department. Hardware and home improvement stores manage large volumes of products, and merchandising them can be time-consuming. However, selecting the merchandise you want shoppers to focus on will help building displays go smoother.
- Start with a theme to bring the idea to life. Will it be a fall display with pumpkins as a prop, or will it be a holiday display with gift-wrapped tools and appliances? Perhaps, it’s fire safety month. Or the season when people should prepare for natural disasters. Is there some event going on in your community?
- Keep it simple and catch customers’ attention by using products as a focal point. It’s best to keep displays at eye level to let them be seen from different angles.
- Avoid displaying too many signs. Remember the key points you want the customer to know when they walk away from the display.
- Make sure shelving displays are well-organized, clean, and free of dust.
Watch the Timing
Point-of-purchase displays are meant to be temporary. Window displays are the most time-sensitive concepts and should be changed every seven to fourteen days. Updated displays keep shoppers engaged and interested in your latest offerings. A basic rule of thumb for in-store displays is to keep them up no longer than 4—6 weeks. The great thing about displays is that you can try new things to see what works or what falls flat.
Get Ideas from Other Sources
There are plenty of ways to ideas for visually merchandising your store.One of the best places to start is with your vendors. Many of them are willing to come in and set up displays at store level. It helps vendors promote their brand, sell more products, and build good relationships with store owners. Pinterest is also overflowing with ideas for using hardware-related merchandise to create displays.
Get Started Today
Taking a fresh approach to visual merchandising will help you deliver the kind of experience customers say they want and expect. Shoppers prefer frequenting stores that are clean, well-lit, and organized. Products should be easy to locate and arranged in an orderly space. Whether you know it or not, customers check out everything in the store. Including, displays, props, signs, paint, fixtures, price tickets. They listen to the type of music you play or don’t play. Walkthrough your store and ask yourself what things could you change to improve the customer experience.