By Meredith Corning
What makes individual stores stand out from the crowd? The truth is a store’s image is an important part of communicating a quality message to customers. This task is generally left to the corporate visual merchandising director, regional creative directors, store planning directors, architects, and individual store visual managers and designers. The purpose of the visual manager is to entice a customer to enter the store, enhance a store’s image, effectively represent the merchandise the store offers, and show customers how to wear and accessorize the merchandise. Due to massive retail competition, stores are using various techniques to create more exciting presentations. Often methods used are humor, shock, elegance, and minimalism.
Some items to consider are consistency in store appearance, colors, assortment of displays and fixtures, and general cleaner merchandising. Mismatched hangers, for example, never looks good and is an easy fix. Utilizing the store logo on signage, labels, shopping bags, and marketing materials create a cohesive look for overall image. Wall colors need to be examined with other visual elements throughout the store. Does the color scheme make sense? Sometimes hiring a visual merchandiser with an art background can help make sense of color choices.
The all too important window display is a complete statement on its own. Windows are normally the most dramatic of the overall store’s visual statement. They can be funny or dramatic. Windows often feature video art, animation, posters, dramatic lighting, holograms, or other special effects. There are two distinct window themes, special event windows and fashion message windows. Special event windows convey the spirit of the holiday season, tie in a store event or special promotion. Fashion message windows feature the latest fashion trends and how to coordinate accessories or feature the latest designer collection.
Trade publications are available in the form of newspapers, journals, or magazines and offer insider tips, trends, and developments imperative to stay cutting edge in the ever evolving world of fashion. Fashion executives read these publications daily. Some examples are Display & Design Ideas and Visual Merchandising & Store Design (VM & SD).
Elements used to enhance clothes on display include mannequins, fixtures, poles, boxes, lighting, banners, accessories, and other props. Most importantly, visual merchandisers try to incorporate other merchandise. Tiny details are important and every viewpoint must be considered. With a bit of planning, education, and the necessary visual elements, any store from indie to major retailer can create a unique and relevant message to consumers.