Ever thought why the ambience of a shop is staged in a vibrant fashion during festive seasons; or why in a grocery store at a fruit stall the reddest of all the apples in the stock placed at the top; or why the mannequins in the show window of a store are
This is done for the simple reason that eyes are windows to soul and shop windows reveal the soul of the shop. The visual display is a vital tool for increasing the store traffic and sales volume. VD of a store gives it a competitive edge over other brands dealing in similar merchandise. Established brands like Tommy Hilfiger, Levi's, Nike, Reebok, Woodland, Adidas and other retailers enjoy a reputation of maintaining an alluring VD that has greatly helped in building brand image in the eyes of customers.
Narresh Mehtta, Chief Operations Officer, Hidesign says, “These days customers buy a look and not a product. They pick up a product examine its look and make buying decisions. It is all about look and fashion, hence VD is very important in retail.”
Charath Narsimhan, Chief Executive Officer, Indian Terrain Fashion Ltd says, “Visual Display is an important part of brand communication that requires meticulous planning and seamless execution. The VD of a store helps in growing sales by giving customers a clear idea of the key products and collections of the season. The display also piques the interest of customers, provides them with ensemble recommendations and helps them choose garments with greater ease.”
Peyush Bansal, CEO and Founder, Lenskart.com says, “What is explained visibly cannot be explained verbally. Hence visual display is important. Visual display helps the customer to understand the brand.”
Vikram Chopra, CEO and Founder, Fabfurnish.com says, “Visual display highlights the USP of a store and helps the customer in distinguishing our products from other brand offerings. If a store has a good VD it creates a lasting impact on the customer which imparts a soothing experience while browsing through the products. This in turn boosts the sales.”
VD boosts franchisees’ sales
For a brand, VD is an indispensible part of its identity. Therefore, entrepreneurs ensure that the VD of a brand remains universal across all the franchise outlets. Tommy Hilfiger is renowned for delivering a 'classic American cool' shopping experience to its customers through its visual display, which is kept universal for all their stores across countries. The brand offers its partner a system of which visual display forms an eminent part. Offering his piece of advice, Mehtta of Hidesign says, “It is very important to convey a unified perception of a brand. This helps in maintaining congruence between a brand and the experience of customers.”
Bansal of Lenskart.com explaining the importance of sameness in VD says, “For a brand to be understood and remembered, the customer should sense uniformity at all the franchise outlets. It is very important for brand integrity.” Sharing his opinion about the concept of universality, Chopra of Fabfurnish.com says, “This aspect helps in distinguishing a brand from the others. In order to propagate brand value, there has to be a certain uniformity in the looks and the kind of user- experience that we provide to a customer across all outlets.” For Indian Terrain Fashions Ltd the visual display set up remains same, so as to ensure same customer service across all stores.
Having realised the necessity and gravity behind maintaining the same VD, now arises the question how such a tedious task is managed. Throwing light on the execution of store management, Narsimhan of Indian Terrain Fashions Ltd explains, “The franchisee is asked to pay attention to the VD in stores. The brand specifies the visual display of garments and decides the content for in-store communication. In-store communication is controlled and executed by the brand and product display is controlled by the visual merchandiser for the zone. He regularly visits the stores to check on the VD and adjust the display, if required. Store staff is trained on the product display norms as well.”
Bansal of Lenskart.com elaborates, “We do all the branding for the franchisor and he is not supposed to deviate from the same. The franchisees are provided initial displays from the company and subsequent artworks/displays are sent from the head office. Visual management (VM) is an integral part of store display and hence is given due importance in terms of training imparted to all the franchisees.”
Vivacity and currency of VDM
The role of visual display merchandisers (VDM) is very crucial. They are entrusted with the task of utilising space and lighting creatively, and putting the store space and layout to the best possible use. They dress mannequins, arrange screens, fabrics and posters. Sourcing of materials and props prior to the display is done by them. Explaining the role of VDM, Narsimhan of Indian Terrain Fashions Ltd says, “The VDM controls the store product display. His responsibilities include designing the look of the store after coordinating with the buying team on the products to be featured through a particular season, executing the chosen look across all stores and ensuring freshness in display for the customer. His role is focused on aiding and improving the shopping experience of the customer.”
The work of a VDM is both physically and mentally challenging. An efficient VDM must bring forth a good sense of design, colour and style that should display imagination and creativity. The good understanding and grasp of current fashion and trends is equally essential. Detailing can be vital and VDM ensures that all displays are precise and follow the company guidelines.
Visual treat package
The VD should be such that in one glance a customer gets the knowledge of the product availability. The concept of the display should never suppress the product. Colours stimulate the customer’s mind and are an apt way to transform passers-by into shoppers. Fresh colours like green, orange, blue should be used during the spring season. On occasions like Valentine's Day, its red that rules the décor or shades of pink and crimson. Glitter and sparkling colours should be used during festive seasons like Diwali. Dark colours render warmth during winters. The theme of the display should go hand in hand with the products. The entire space of the display area needs to be covered. This ensures the customer that the store is loaded with stock. However, do not fill for the sake of it.
From browsing to buying
The VD of a store helps in growing sales by giving customers a clear idea of the key products and collections of the season. A good VD creates a lasting impact on the customers, providing a soothing experience while they browse through the products. This in turn boosts the sales. With the combined effort of VDM who controls the design as well as its execution across all the stores and marketing team managing the in store communication, the end objective of aiding the buying process is achieved.
A bright career option
The emergence of shopping malls, large scale development of five star hotels and mushrooming of retail industry all over are strong factors that have made visual management a lucrative career option.
Available career choices
w Store visual merchandiser
w Visual merchandising manager
w Visual merchandising coordinator
w Freelance visual display person
w Filed visual coordinator
w Retail visual merchandiser
Requisite skills: Aesthetic creativity, organisational skills, problem solving abilities, computer knowledge, understanding of consumer psychology, trends forecasting.
w Both a part time and freelance career option.
w Visual Merchandisers can find employment with fashion boutiques, shopping malls, emporia, design companies, architecture firms and theme party organising companies.
w Freelancing can be taken up on contract basis for window displays in exhibitions, fairs, beauty contests, award ceremonies, shopping malls and retail stores.
w Jobs can be taken up as a shop floor manager also.
Variety is the spice of VD
The customers expect some sort of novelty to be introduced every time they visit a store. Keeping in mind, the fickleness and changing mood of customers VD is changed from time to time. Indian Terrain changes the VD each time new products are added to the store, whereas global level change is carried out on the onset of a new season, while minor changes are made on a monthly basis. Fabfurnish.com changes the VD of its retail stores after every three months in order to make the store more vibrant. Lenskart.com introduces change as and when the VD of its stores out lives life, promotion strategies and prices change, special offers are introduced, theme is modified or there is some special information that needs to be conveyed to the people.