The Best Thing About Visual Merchandising Isn’t The Merchandise

The Best Thing About Visual Merchandising Isn’t The Merchandise

Merchandising Baffle System

For some, visual merchandising means sorting the sweaters on a rack by the color spectrum or creating a well put together outfit on a mannequin next to sharply folded inventory. For others it means a window display or a branded section of a store that quickly deteriorates into looking like any other section of the store with the exception of a brand name sign.

How can managers call floor space for product the most important thing when no one is even keeping it clean. Department stores have fallen into a slump, not because consumers don’t think they are cool, but rather that they are dirty, in disrepair, and clothes are often damaged but still on the racks. Consumers simply don’t want to shop at a dirty store with clothes so jam-packed on to racks that it is a challenge to even look at the selection.

Merchandising Guitars on H-Tube

Major brands have created boutiques with limited skus and an ultra clean look, so why haven’t department stores caught on to this? Some have changed out single departments but still remain reluctant to go all-in. What we have all forgotten is that department stores were awe inspiring and a destination at one time. So what changed? A rise in the cost of living and a decline in skilled labor due to low unemployment? This certainly explains the revolving door for employees but is it more than that? Low wage and poor executive culture may explain a trickledown effect in employee engagement.

Is it possible that the definition of maximizing floor space has changed? Packing racks with inventory and adding so many racks to the floor has made it difficult for the consumer to even shop. Floor space in retail is expensive but losing a customer base is more expensive. Reinventing the way products are displayed and the store brand is communicated to the consumer should be a top priority for department stores. Visually merchandising product around carefully thought out floor layouts that include interesting art pieces, materials and imaginative displays would certainly attract consumers to return.

Merchandising Baffle System 2

With the large multi-story footprints that major department stores have, the opportunity for colossal displays stretching two or three stories exists. Imagine colorful resin panels suspended by wire, spiraling down multiple floors to hover over a table containing a brand new product release. Instead of halo lit brand logos on the walls, stores could create multi level signage with standoffs, wrapping around walls and pillars, expanding the brand message for the store and the brands carried. Visual merchandising should be a means for brand communication but also a way to use imagination and artistic ability to create a consumer destination.


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