Visual merchandising is about two things: (i) aesthetics and visual appeal, and (ii) organizing the store and products in a manner that leads to a more efficient shopping process and more effective communication with shoppers.
There was a time when visual merchandising was restricted to just window displays. Today, it encompasses the entire visual environment and atmospherics of a store: the ambience, the music, the communication with customers, the smells, the textures, the materials used in the store, the facade outside and the entire retail space inside.
Akash Ashesh, Country Head – Visual Merchandiser, ITC – LRBD says, “The three elements that can be put to use to test the increase in number of footfalls or actual conversion to sales based on the show window depends on measuring the like to like growth in sales – either compared to the earlier window dressing as done a week / fortnight earlier, a month earlier or based on the season (festive or collection).”
“The other way to judge is based on the product category. If the window has on display a particular category (either men’s wear, women’s wear, festive wear etc.) and if that category has picked up in terms of sales, then it is only apt to give VM the credit,” he further explains.
“The third way,” he continues, “to test the effectiveness of the store window is to check on how fast the product on the window is moving. For e.g. if the mannequin is dressed in a particular outfit and if that particular outfit is showing fantastic sales figures, it means the trigger here is the display that has lured the shopper to the store.”
He however, points out that before attributing the growth or downfall in sales to solely the store window, one must also take into consideration other factors like any offers / discounts running, the advertising support, mall promotions going on etc.
Ashesh says VM can help increase sales by affecting three key drivers
– Customer Engagement
Rating VM as an Effective Retail Tool
R. Jeswant, Senior Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Funskool India says VM is one of the most effective tools in the hands of a retailer to increase footfalls, “especially in toys since a great shopping experience will highly influence the purchasing decision.” He adds, “Helping a shopper easily find the right product/s will make enhance the shopping experience and build loyal customers.”
“It is by far one of the most effective mediums of upping footfalls. It is the display design created by VM that gives the ultimate impression about the brand before a consumer turns into a buyer. For us, VM is very important because more than one third of our display is immediately visible to window shoppers, people walking past our stores. It is also significant as we launch new collections virtually every month and we use the display window as well as other focal points in our store to build a visual strategy, helping the consumer better experience the product and the brand,” she states.
Calling VM an indispensable retail tool, Shradha Kurup, Head, VM, Raymond Ltd says, “Gone are the days when prints and visuals or mannequins were considered as the only raw material for window displays / VM. Everything static has been replaced with media and engagements that create windows and store spaces. And all of these strategic places have become complete experience zones, talking points.”
During one of my recent travels I was walking down Oxford Street in London. From a distance I could smell the most amazing fragrances. On walking closer, I was welcomed by an overwhelming façade of a Fresh Handmade Cosmetics store. They had the most phenomenal VM experiences to offer to their customer. They created zones in their stores that not only intrigued but also encouraged trial of all their products. There is no way anyone could miss the kind of activity and energy, and people stepped in store more often than not,” she stated.
Joining the VM fan club is Siddharth Bindra, Managing Director, BIBA who says, “It stands at the top because store visual merchandising strengthens all marketing strategies that drive footfalls, and it enables the storefront to become a powerful point of competitive interest and desirability.”
“VM is a silent salesman for a brand. Conceptual VM that speaks of our product’s craftsmanship via our focal point areas of the store as well as window units are integral for increasing footfalls in store. This is especially in a competitive mall environment where grabbing eyeballs of clients walking down the atrium is most important. A self-explanatory display with interesting callouts is an immediate reckoning for a brand like us to the customer,” he explains.
Akash Ashesh adds a note of caution, saying VM needs proper planning, cooperation and coordination from other functions in the retail environment to succeed in increasing footfalls for a brand.
~ With Inputs from Sandeep Kumar & Surabhi Khosla ~
(Have a fantastic visual merchandising pictures, campaigns and response? Share it with us.)