8 Best Practices for Visual Merchandising
Clever merchandising decisions, from window displays to in-store tablescapes, can attract foot traffic and inspire customers to go on a spending spree, buying your goods to replicate your designs in their own homes.
Visual merchandising is an art, one that the world’s biggest retailers pay mightily for and plan out months (or years) in advance. Here, experts in the fashion and visual consulting industries offer hallmarks of a great display.
Colour blocking, grouping flowers and products by hues, is “an easy way to catch attention and make a clear change,” said Marisa Lowenstein, senior director of Global Creative Services at Ralph Lauren. You could create a trendy monochromatic window display; a tablescape with lots of small arrangements, organized by colour; or a big, show-stopping design presented like a Cobb salad. Eyecatching and aesthetically pleasing, this technique will entice customers to walk in your shop and purchase your merchandise.
People like balance. Studies show that people rate people with symmetrical facial traits as more attractive, and the same principle applies to design. Melissa Hernandez-Erickson of MH Style Consulting recommends symmetrical displays not only because they appeal to passersby but also because they teach people how to style your products. “Your display should inspire them to consider what else they should put the product within their home,” she said. Have multiples of products? Put them to good use with this technique.
As a general rule of thumb, you should switch up your shop’s visual layout once every quarter, and make small alterations to interior and exterior displays once or twice every month. “You want to add new, trending displays in addition to the new arrivals. This keeps them wanting more and keeps them interested,” Hernandez-Erickson said. “In terms of a window display, which is the ‘first impression’ of your shop, you want people to know what new items you have to offer. This will entice them to enter the store and keep them coming back for more.”
Swimming in leftover containers or giftware from Christmas 2017? Take advantage of materials you have in backstock and use them over and over in your window displays. “Repetition is something we all use in visual
merchandising and I think it is a great tool for showcasing multiples of the same item,” said Denise Foley, who has worked with several luxury brands, including Lord & Taylor, Bloomingdale’s and Bergdorf Goodman. “It’s a clear and concise way to focus on a particular product or idea when communicating with customers.”
Lowenstein, who started her career as a set designer, knows how important lighting is to make a design sing. “I tend to start with a more theatrical, dramatic approach and then tone it down,” she said. If your display features a pastel or muted colour palette, for instance, you want to keep the mood “soft,” so you’ll want to use subdued lighting to stay cohesive with the theme. Decorating with jewel tones or primary colours? Pump up the drama by putting your design in the spotlight.
You don’t need to have pockets as deep as Chanel or Saks Fifth Avenue to create head-turning displays. From makeshift risers to thrift store furniture, there are many options for inexpensive props. Venture into second-hand stores or stop by garage sales to find cost-effective additions for your inventory. This is one of Hernandez-Erickson’s favourite tactics with her clients. She spends a lot of time consulting Pinterest and fashion magazines to stay abreast of current trends, then she heads to local thrift stores to find items that embody them, as well as miscellaneous, eccentric pieces.
LONG-LASTING, DURABLE MATERIALS
Natural elements feel like, well, a natural choice for florists. But be prudent in which products you choose. Delicate blooms that require a lot of care and handling will drive you crazy. Instead, stick to product with an incredibly long vase life (like chrysanthemums, carnations, proteas, succulents, or plants). Also consider pieces usually used asaccents. “Leaves and branches last much longer than flowers and can evoke a bigger gesture on less of a budget,” Lowenstein said.
FIND YOUR MUSE
Pulling from the fashion, beauty, architecture, and art industries can add impactful diversity to your visual merchandising techniques. Consistent research on multiple platforms such as Windowswear, Pinterest, art
books, and exhibits can open your mind to all of the possibilities for window and interior displays for your flower shop. Going outside and studying your community can also provide inspiration, helping you define your town’s unique character. “I believe that you have to feel what is happening around you, in the city you are in, and in the world,” Lowenstein said.