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9 ways to boost sales with visual merchandising

Visual merchandising (VM) is the activity of developing floor plans and displays with the aim of maximising sales. Effective VM will help your business to develop, deliver and communicate your visual concepts and strategies, that will in turn promote your product, services and business as a whole.

Essentially, your retail space has to be your most productive and most efficient salesperson, and how you go about optimising your sales space for maximum revenue is to put in place fantastic VM. Research by Dunne and Lusch (2005) suggests that store environment is an important element in retailing and that 70% of purchases are an impulse buy or unplanned purchase. It’s important to note that the following 9 tips apply to a range of retail stores. So, let’s get started...

1. Always have your target customer in mind

Knowing your target customer is vital for creating effective merchandising displays. Being familiar with demographic data like age and income will help but it’s also important to dig deeper, so you are therefore targeting not just individuals, but their lifestyles. If you’re having trouble finding inspiration you can find unlimited imagery and ideas online by making use of articles, blogs and pinterest.

9 ways to boost sales with visual merchandising

2. Have a plan

Visual merchandising can be overwhelming, especially when you have a wide range of different products. Firstly, you must decide what you will be merchandising and what fixtures and props you will need to display them effectively. Many businesses use a planogram to do this. A planogram is a diagram of your shop floor that will help you to plan where you are placing your products. This can be done using specialist software or you can use a pen and paper to sketch a plan, which will not be as accurate as a digital design, but it can still help you to visualise the display before setting it up, which will prevent you from moving stock back and forth and getting muddled.

3. Use your windows to increase footfall

Your shop windows are the first thing a potential or current customer will see when they come across your business. Having an excellent window display or attractive exterior is one of the fastest techniques to drive customers into your business. An eye-catching display will encourage local, passing, repeat and first-time trade into your store, so it’s important that it is attractive, crisp and clean. Windows are an excellent place to display new products or products that you are looking to push sales on. In order to create and maintain interest, it is recommended that your displays can be altered regularly to create and maintain interest. It is recommended that retailers change their window displays six different times in a year. This is very achievable and allows you to be flexible with changing seasons and themes. You can base your theme around special events like Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day and Christmas. Obvious factors like ensuring your windows are clean will make a substantial difference to the success of your displays.

9 ways to boost sales with visual merchandising

4. Start closest to the door

Once your customer has spotted your window display and entered your store, it’s important that the first products they see do your display justice. Many successful businesses place their newest and most expensive items at the front of the store, so customers don’t have to search for what’s new. If customers like what they see in the window, it is likely that they will want to have a closer look at these particular products. Make sure the products you are displaying in the windows can be easily accessed, without disturbing your displays. You can even introduce your theme inside to create a visual experience that flows through from the windows.

5. Train your team

To compliment a visually strong store, it’s important that your staff are able to confidently and knowledgeably sell your products. There is little point having a store that looks fantastic, if you staff don’t have the skills to help the sales of the products that you have worked so hard to visually merchandise. It’s vital that as an employer you give your staff the tools to interact with customers about your products. Having the ability to recognise interest, excitement or curiosity will help them to approach customers.

6. Reinforce advertising

Your visual merchandising should strengthen any print, television or radio advertising that you have running. If you have a slogan that you use in advertising, repeat that slogan on displays in your store. This will create a consistent brand image, and will ensure that your advertising compliments your business in the flesh too. If you are advertising a sale or a special event, you can use simple and cost effective methods like display an A board outside, which will draw customers in. Customers love a bargain and won’t want to miss out!

7. Merchandise in a way that customers can identify with

A customer will typically want an idea of what the item will look and feel like. To accommodate this it is important that you set up your merchandise in a way they can identify with and could envision in their own home or on themselves. For example, in a furniture store, the products are set-up with displays that make it easy for people to envision how the same products could be set out in their own home. In fashion retail, this is done by dressing mannequins in products and implementing a uniform for staff, which includes wearing the clothing you sell. It’s surprising how much seeing an item being worn can help to sell a product.

9 ways to boost sales with visual merchandising

8. The rule of 3

Visual merchandisers will often refer to the rule of three, which means that when creating a display, products will look more visually pleasing when arranged in sets of three. For example, if you were arranging products by height, you’d have items that were short, medium, and tall. The reason for this is that our eyes are most likely to keep moving and looking around when we look at something that is asymmetrical. Additionally, the "pyramid principle," implies that when you have a product placed at the top and others a step down, the eyes will look at the focal point and work their way down.

9 ways to boost sales with visual merchandising

9. Placement is key

It may sound cliché but “eye level is buy level” - shoppers like to feel and touch things and prefer items to be within their arms’ length, so make sure your best products are easily accessible to create a more tactile experience for your customers. However, you can still make great use of your wall space, as you can use the space above your reachable products to create displays. Grouping products with similar items will give your customers additional reasons to buy more items from you. It was also save your customers time from looking around and trying to mix and match things, so their shopping experience will be more relaxed and enjoyable. For example, if you’re a food retailer, place all of your BBQ products in one place during the warmer months. Your products can also categorised by color, price, size, or type. Visual merchandising in this way can really boost the amount of impulse purchases that your customers make. Additionally, placing low value products at the till point is likely to encourage customers to make a last-minute purchase that will increase your ATV in-store.

9 ways to boost sales with visual merchandising


Erin Heenan

Erin joined Epos Now in 2016 as an in-house content writer for the marketing department, making use of 10 years experience working in busy restaurants. An avid fan of shopping and eating out, she is committed to helping retail and hospitality SMEs get the most out of their businesses.

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