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Retail Merchandising Tips and Tricks

   Retail visual merchandising shares many of the same principles as advertising, graphic design, and interior design -- the purpose of visual merchandising is to create a logical and visually pleasing environment that will grab attention and translate into increased sales. Visual merchandising basics are pretty easy to understand - a clean store, well lit, with merchandise displayed in neat groupings. But as an industry, visual merchandising delves a lot deeper, focusing on the psychology and motivations of the target customer. The following are the top five tips for retail visual merchandising:

1. Entice - Visual merchandising actually starts on the street outside the store. Creative and interesting window displays will catch the eye of people walking by and will draw them into the store. Many store owners make the mistake of cramming in lots of merchandise (to indicate the variety of items they might carry,) but the most successful window designs create a theme, mood, or "lifestyle" that piques curiosity. Change the window displays with the seasons, and always reflect your newest or best-selling items.

2. Impact - We've all done it - you walk into a store, take a lap around, and leave. Maybe you were "just looking" -- more than likely, though, something about the store or the merchandise displays turned you off. The experience of visiting an establishment should be as rich as is appropriate -- any prospective customer should be able to walk in and feel respected and comfortable. Whether it's music, product displays, lighting, or even the climate control, everything in the store can impact the shopping experience.

3. Inspire - Create product displays that will show the customer how an item might fit into their everyday life. In a home store, that might mean a sofa-chair grouping or a complete table setting. In a clothing store it might mean dressing mannequins -- whatever the store type, customers are more likely to purchase if they can imagine themselves using/wearing the product.

4. Identify - These days, many shoppers are busy people. Perhaps they're popping in on the way home from work, or on the way to the party -- whatever the case may be, shoppers are more likely to purchase if they can find what they are looking for, easily identify the price, and then find the register and check out. Product should be organized in logical groupings -- whether by item type, color, or some other characteristic, and signage and product descriptions should be clear and easy to read.

5. Add-on - Point-of-sale add-ons (also known as "impulse buys") can generate extra dollars in sales. Think of small items that people usually forget -- batteries, light bulbs, gift wrapping, etc -- these small items can be placed near or at the register as a gentle reminder to the customer.

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