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Explaining retail & the need of visual merchandising


Retail has caught a lot of attention in the past decades. India has replaced China as the numero uno retail destination in 2017 as part of the global retail development index, according to industry experts. India tops an annual list of the 30 top developing countries for retail investment pushing China, which took the No. 1 spot for the past several years, into second place. A.T. Kearney’s ‘Global Retail Development Index’ cites India’s strong GDP growth and growing middle class coupled with a more favourable regulatory environment over the past few years being the reason for this stupendous leap. It notes that India’s retail sector has been growing at an annual rate of 20 percent. Total sales surpassed the $1 trillion mark last year and the sector is expected to double in size by 2020.

Explaining retail & the need of visual merchandising
Visual Merchandising plays an indispensable role in generating both product visibility and its saleability vis-à-vis a customer in retail environment

The country is getting more competitive in terms of retail industry with Visual Merchandising being the most effective differentiator in apparel/retail industry. Consumers now want state of the art products having superior quality of global standards. Visual merchandising plays a significant role in the creation of a euphoric experience for the consumers by creatively prepping the interior and exterior of a retail destination.

Realisation has dawned upon the retail sector in India that only selling the product is not important, but customer’s satisfaction, experience and convenience are also key influencers for shopping. Shopping is no more just a bag of merchandise, instead, it’s a bag full of experiences. Stimulus in retailing includes spacerelated, product-related and people-related aspects, these stimuli are mostly collected through eyes, hence an inexpensive but crucially impactful ways of marketing.

Visual merchandising includes both exterior and interior aspects of a store. The store exterior includes window display, façade, and retail premises. All aspects of visual merchandising play different roles from pulling a customer to the store till converting it into a sale.

Visual Merchandising is a tool to sell. The visual merchandising display process is often referred to as ‘Silent Sales Person’ by providing the consumer with information through visual mediums coupled with suggestive selling mechanisms to add items to a consumer’s original purchase.

How Visual Merchandising Helps
– Stimulates product interest
– Provides information
– Suggests merchandise coordination
– Generates traffic flow
– Reminds customers of planned purchases
– Creates additional sales of impulse items
– Enhances the store’s visual image

Understanding Consumer Behaviour and Impact of Visual Merchandising:

Window displays and exteriors are the first touch point for a customer. Physical attractiveness of the store impresses and influences customers immensely leading him/her on for store selection. Retailers want their stores to attract consumers by assisting them to find the merchandise they desire and to motivate them to make planned, unplanned and impulse purchases, ultimately providing them with enjoyable shopping experiences.

Several consumers think they only purchase products but in the current retail, every store is selling experience as well, be it a nice window display, a POSM, nicely displayed merchandise, visuals, spacious floor layout, music, lighting, or an inviting façade, each element drives sales. I have learnt in my career as a visual merchandiser, if it is not selling it is not visual merchandising, visual merchandising is a mix of art and science. The right art with the right science of time and place makes the right impact and calls for good business.

Consumers can be defined as ‘rational decision makers who are only concerned with self-interest’. Contemporary researches done on consumer behaviour consider varied range of factors influencing consumers and prove a broad range of consumption activities beyond purchasing. These activities include the need for recognition, information search, evaluation of alternatives, building purchase intention, act of purchasing, consumption and finally disposal. The definition of consumer behaviour is the study of process involved when individuals or group select, purchase, use or dispose of product, services, ideas, or experiences to satisfy needs and desire. Kardes, Cline and Cronley added to this definition by stating that consumer behaviour also includes the consumer’s expressive, psychological and social responses that lead, establish or follow these responses

The consumer behaviour consists of consumer activities and consumer responses that both influence each other. Therefore, a consumer’s expressive, psychological and social responses will have an influence on their buying, using and disposing activities
and vice versa. Consumers do not always buy what they want. There are certain unconscious needs, a right visual merchandising approach plays an important role in decision making and impulse buying for consumers.

Impulse buying behaviour can be explained as a spontaneous act, intense, exciting urge to buy. The person only focuses on the relishing urge of purchasing product that they want to rather than fixing any problem or satisfying their prerequisite need. Certain past research has defined impulse buying behaviour as irrational behaviour and lack of behavioural control. A well-presented and proper planned Visual Merchandising approach results in bigger sells.


Visual Merchandising plays an indispensable role in generating both product visibility and its saleability vis-à-vis a customer in retail environment. The multiple aspects of VM methodology generate a curiously creative sales environment for the product enhancing and retaining consumer’s interest in the store space, also facilitating impulse buying while enjoying the overall shopping experience. It almost works like a well-thought out invitation to a store experience that goes on to indulge you in its premium services such as well-planned space, browsing convenience, intelligent product assortment, helpdesks and ease of buying with its communication collaterals.

Absence of Visual Merchandising practically leads to chaos – no matter how great the product is, you’ll never know it exists unless you make it stand out amidst your competitor’s gigantic presence in today’s retail sector where options are limitless, and patience invariably runs out. Visual Merchandising acquaints you with what a brand is all about in a single run through by the time you exit the store…how crucial it is for a brand is for all of us to acknowledge…we have come a long way since door-to-door selling, haven’t we and rightly, why…!