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Visual Merchandising and its Significance in Retailing


Zobayer Hossain Noyon, Research Assistant, Textile Focus

Ralf Lauren

Image: Innovative outlet of Ralf Lauren, an American clothing retailer

Retailing is one of the most effective selling channel for apparel business. The business of buying clothes from the manufacturers and selling them to the end customers is called retailing. After buying clothes from the manufacturer a retail merchandiser must place their product at boutiques, departmental stores, chain shops or any other online platform for sales. By this a customer can know about the products and brands and select their expected goods to make purchase decisions. When a customer enters a retail store no matter he buys or not, it creates brand awareness that helps in promoting the products. Nowadays retailing is getting innovative day by day as the demand of the customers are becoming more and more complex. So it is a tough task for the retailers to attract more customers and retain them.

retail shop

Image: Novel combination of colour and display in an apparel retail shop

Today, retailers design their departmental stores or retail outlets in innovative and unique ways to attract customers. In fact, it has become now an art and an essential element of apparel retailing. Today visual merchandising has become as significant as production merchandising in apparel and fashion business.

Visual Merchandising

Fashionable ladies wear

Image: Fashionable ladies wear show-room designed with catchy white background and texture

Visual merchandising (VM) is a very effective marketing idea in present day. VM is the way that the product is displayed in order to make appealing for the customers to walk in and buy the product. Visual merchandising plays vital role in retail store success. How your products are displayed on your floor, what makes customers fall in love with them. This ultimately drives sales. Both goods & services can be displayed to highlight their features and benefits. The main purpose of visual merchandising is to attract, engage and motivate the customers towards making purchase.  Visual merchandising is the stages that full-fills customers wants and services in the right place and right time. This process coordinates all advertising display fashion promotions and merchandising activities to all merchandise and service. The main objective of visual merchandising is to maximize efficiency by creating an enjoyable shopping, effective store design and create awareness of different brands. Visual Merchandising create eye catching product display and store layout to attract the customers.

Visual Merchandising Elements

Visual merchandising is a workable way to promote company through different elements like window display, lighting, store layout, color, and even music. Elements of visual merchandising are the tools or techniques used to innovatively design a store or outlet and differentiate customer experience from the competitors in the market.

Window Display: The window display should be attractive enough since only three to five seconds of attention is given by the consumers to windows display. It should create visual appeals, relevance and interest value. Moreover, the window display of an apparel store was started to be able to show seasonal treads in fashion color and look. Some of the objective include in window display create impact by image, theme and composition. main types of window display include: closed, semi closed, open, elevated, corner, island and shadow box.

Open Window Display: In Topshop’s latest window display they worked with Blacks VM to create engaging visuals. The open back window displays give glimpses further into the store.

Closed Window Display: They took their inspiration from the AW17 Ready-to-wear collection in which checks make a feature. They created a grid structure which added depth to the display and sat against a deep green closed display.

Island Window Display: Island window displays are usually found in large department and flagship stores, where retailers have a huge space to fill but also want to create a sense of focus on the latest products or promotions.

Semi-closed Window Displays: This type of window display usually consists of a partial screen or graphic display, that covers the majority – but not the whole – of the window.

Corner Window Displays: Put simply, these are window displays created on the corner of stores, however, retailers have continued to innovate in their approach to corner window displays.

Elevated Window Displays: Elevated window displays are commonly used in jewellery and cosmetic applications, particularly for higher value items where the shopper is likely to only make a single purchase.

Colourful window display

Image: Colourful window display reflecting aggressiveness and proactivity

Shadowbox window displays: Shadowbox displays feature heavily in the windows of stores that specialise in smaller items such as jewellery and accessories.


Image: Shadowbox window displaying small items like jewellery and accessories

Store Layout: store layout and display is another visual merchandising element claimed to be arranged in a way that the movement of the consumers is guided within the garments. The idea store layout and design will help to give guideline to increase merchandise and to create interest in the product from the customer’s perspective.

Store Design: Store design and interior coverings like selection of the wall covering, carpets, furnishing, shelves and dividers are suggested to be designed to convey the image which is required to be projected to the customers.

Color: Color is the most powerful elements of the visual merchandising. It can also create atmosphere, catch the attention of by passers and attract them to the retail store for purchasing goods. Green signifies health and freshness, orange emits a feeling of friendship, red inspire energy, black evokes elegance, blue indicates reliability and yellow.

Lighting: Without lighting visual Merchandising in retailing is not possible. Nowadays computer software is used for controlling of the window display That can attract the customers.

Shelf Lighting: It instantly creates a luxury feel of the stores.

Change-room Lighting: Change-room lighting should also have lighting incorporated either into or around the mirror to ensure even lighting of the customer and avoid unflattering shadows.

Variation in lighting

Image: Variation in lighting can amplify product’s charm to customers

Display Rack Lighting: This technique also creates a luxurious feeling so it is an easy way to help the customer justify a higher spend.

Lower Level Lighting: it is well below eye level, strategically placing some lighting lower to the ground can help draw attention to it.

Customers at a Cheerful outlet

Image: Happy Customers at a Cheerful outlet

End Cap Lighting: End-caps can be a perfect place not only to incorporate lighting but also play with coloured lights.

Music: In fashion retailing house visual merchandising play slow music for customer relaxation. It can also promote brands and customer spend enjoyable time inside retailing house during purchasing their selected product.

The type of music you play in your store makes customers subconsciously form an opinion about your brand even before seeing your products and influences what and how much they are buying from you. In an experiment, while playing French music, 8 out of 10 people French wine because it made them feel in a certain way.

You have to figure out how you want the customers to feel while they are in your store and try to induce those feelings via music. If you have a vintage collection or classic items, playing blues, jazz and other genres might help you sell those products faster. The same way, if your tore is mostly for teenage girls and your predominant style is trendy, modern, chic, pop music from well-known artists is the best option.

Significance of Visual Merchandising in Apparel Business

The concept of visual merchandising is the activity of presenting products in a manner that encourage sales. Any apparel store owners want to boost their product by designing and displaying retail stores that can help to promote their products. Visual merchandising helps shoppers locate product more easily. When a product is properly displayed it catches shoppers’ attention to buy their product. Visual merchandising makes store more enjoyable to shoppers by displaying and promoting your product that encourage higher sales and creates an enjoyable shopping experience. After completing an enjoyable shopping customers will want to come back again to your store and purchase more products. Visual merchandising attracts thus help in customer retention and repurchasing by their services. That can promote your product as well as brand awareness. Today’s market is very competitive. If shoppers feel comfortable to buy your product from your retail house it will be more effective for your apparel business.

It is really important for each member of VM team in retail stores to be little bit visual specialist and have a feeling for it. It does make a difference when you are coming to the store which is tidy, colors and products are matching and looks nice together. Then when you are coming to some messy store and all products seems mixed together, so you have no idea where to find and how to find what you need. This is the way how to engage and inspire shoppers, to encourage them to buy more of their products you want them and of course to increase the sales.

Visual merchandise is not only important for retail but also important for every product. Visual merchandise is the first step to approach customer. Since, when any customer can see the product then he’ll/she’ll try to explore more about it even if they are not in planning to buy it. Next step is touch and feel which make the customer’s mind to buy it.