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    10 best tips and tricks for visual merchandising for retail stores and showrooms.

    Did the thought of dropping sales of your business ever cross your mind? Have you contemplated on the reasons behind the same as a retailer? There can be many exogenous reasons behind this reduction in sales, but the problem starts when your competitor’s top line is shooting northwards and yours is nose-diving. This blog can help you to understand one of the vital aspects, which if implemented properly can help you turn around your business performance.

    As Marty Neumeier once said, “Branding is the process of connecting a good strategy with good creativity.” Visual Merchandising is an ideal blend of these two things since it involves strategizing about ways to sell more by showcasing your creativity in your retail store. What customers can see is what they will buy, thus in a retail business, it becomes the primary responsibility of the owner or manager to show the customers what they are looking for. Putting the best of your products on display to lure customers to pay a visit to your store is the key. Half the battle is won if he enters your store, the other half depends on your products and sales skills. Here are 10 effective tips and tricks for visual merchandising:

    1. Know your customer: Customer is King is the first lesson taught in marketing and even today there is no shadow of doubt behind its veracity. As a retailer, you should be aware of your target segment and the customers in that segment. Customers these days have the luxury to order online with just a click and save time by not visiting a brick and mortar store. But still, he is visiting your store then per se insinuates that he wants to have a touch and feel of the product, try different sizes for best fit, etc. Thus, you need to add value to his buying journey by knowing upfront what he wants and pitch him the same. Now the obvious question arises, how to better know your customers? The one-size-fits-all answer to that is just by interacting with him and getting to know his liking.
    2. Products on display: Now that you know your customers, place your products on display based on their interests. The dummy wearing clothes at your store’s entry is the first thing a customer observes in a store and if that entices him, he will surely walk into the store. Try and put your best-sellers right in front of the customers’ sight. This display becomes very crucial in this entire exercise of visual merchandising to attract more footfall and boost sales. Also, you should change your display regularly and try out new combinations based on your customer segmentation.
    3. Store layout should be perfect: This is another thing that catches the eye of a buyer. The placement of your merchandise, use of the store space, the furniture and fittings, the billing counter, and almost everything that gets noticed. Planograms, which is a visual merchandising tool, can be used for optimum space utilization and encouraging sales. There should be enough free space in the store for personalized attention to each customer and his needs. This is one of the best and time-tested practices in visual merchandising all over the world for an immersive shopping experience.
    4. Premium shelf space: This is one of the key issues with retailers and the companies, Planogram can be used for this purpose as well. You walk into a supermarket for groceries; you will only focus on what there is in your visibility on the shelf in front of you. Customers do not like to bend to the bottom row to see a product or go on his toes to check the product on the topmost shelf. A study was done by the University of Chicago which says that moving juice bottles from the worst visibility location to the best location increased its sales by 79%. This premium placement can be done by being in good terms with the retailer and asking for premium spots even by paying some extra dollars.
    5. Bundling is important: Figure out what goes best with your offerings. Make combinations of denim and shirts that complement each other or try putting cheesy dips with chips, etc. which saves customers’ time and incentivize him to buy more from you. This is another key merchandising technique to sell more both in terms of volume and value. You can also create some categories of your own from the past sales data.
    6. It is show time: Good lighting in the store, the color of the décor, and soothing music that is not loud impress customers. It enhances the credibility of the store in more than one way and music in the background subconsciously keeps the customer engaged. Using spotlights which are focusing on the best sellers or new arrivals drive customers to have a glance on these products. The pictures in the collage below show two contrasting themes when it comes to lighting your retail outlet to effectively implement visual merchandising.
    7. Change is the only constant: Remember this saying? This is an essential lesson of life that is commensurately pertinent in the retail space. Experimenting is the key to keep riding on the juggernaut of success in any business. Here, you can play with what is on the display replacing it with new inventory, keep changing the dummy’s attire, tweak your store layout, switch the music genres, change the light setting by adjusting its brightness levels. These are some of the things which you can change to expect better results and internally track your sales performance after every change.
    8. Product specifications: You would not want the customer to keep searching for the price tag on the product he is looking at. And then he calls one of your employees to apprise him of the price of that product with other specifications. If possible, attach a note citing the product’s specifications with other important information. The devil lies in the detail and to build and nurture your relationship with the customer, inform him about all the necessary details. This is another less talked about facet of visual merchandising.
    9. Avoid stock-outs: This is the last thing you would ever want as a retail business owner. A customer liked something which is not available in the store, or his size is out of stock. In such a scenario, your customer will turn to your competing brand or store. This is one of those situations which retail consulting will ask you to be cautious about.
    10. Strike the right balance: There are other visual merchandising techniques apart from these which the retailer can try. But this goes with a caveat that not every strategy will work perfectly for your business. There will be some which will create magic and some others which will fail to show its impact in your context. Thus, you should strike the right balance with all the merchandising tricks to create the perfect synergy which will work wonders for your business.

    Conclusion

    These were our 10 best tricks for visual merchandising for you and your business to be future-ready in this much-hyped VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous) world we live in. There are some other visual merchandising techniques as well to drive your sales, but we chose the best of the lot to help you with your retail business keeping in mind the best practices in visual merchandising.

    About us

    Your Retail Coach (YRC) is a retail consulting and outsourcing company in India offering a wide range of services in retail offline, retail eCommerce and retail omnichannel catering to a multitude of industries.

     

    PROCESS AUTOMATION

    The idea of having Ecommerce Consultants on-board from the beginning itself points towards reducing the involvement of the promoters in daily operations. Ecommerce Businesses willing to be a brand reaping profits & sustaining the competition must ensure that most of their processes should be automated. The more the manual intervention, the more would be the errors.

    In Ecommerce business, you get only 1 chance to impress the customer & if you mess up there, you lose the customer for long.

    Process automation in respect to all the activities pertaining to customers from order receiving to order fulfilment is a must for a seamless experience for the customers.

    Task Management is another grey area where most deadlines fail as 90% of the tasks are assigned manually & are forgotten, unheard, misunderstood or mistaken.

    YRC Team of Ecommerce Management Consultants helps to make maximum of the processes system-driven to ensure minimalistic manual intervention.

    VIDEOGRAPHY & PHOTOGRAPHY

    No matter how good your product is, the customer would know only if it looks good.

    Photography includes the following steps:

    • Cataloguing your products
    • Cataloguing your images
    • Backup your images (A few cloud storage solutions include Dropbox, Google Drive, Bitcasa, Apple’s Cloud Storage etc.)
    • Choose the right camera & lens (You may also outsource the photography to a third party agency)

    DIGITAL MARKETING

    Digital Marketing includes SEO & SMM. SEO i.e. Search Engine Optimization includes activities like back-linking, meta tags, blog-writing etc. to ensure your website ranks on the 1st page on Google Search.

    Next comes SMM i.e. “Social Media Marketing” which as the name suggests including promoting your products on all the social media sites, email marketing, influencer marketing & several other BTL activities.

    These activities are going to be recurring & would decide the traffic on the website, the conversions, whether the right target market is tapped, the likes, the views, the orders, the reviews & much more. YRCs Ecommerce Consultants create a budget for digital marketing right from pre-launch to launch & for each month thereafter.

    Building digital marketing strategies in coordination with the agency, selecting them to signing them off would be the role of YRC.

    This ensures seamless coordination, detailed interactions & desired execution as it is always advisable to work with a single agency than multiple of them.

    IT INTEGRATION

    Selection of the right software for smooth functioning of back-end operations right from production to webstore display would be suggested and integrated by YRC Team.

    YRC’s Team defines SOPs of Product Movement, maps it with the locations & people. They then create a blueprint of all the features required in the software & help in shortlisting & selection.

    IT Integration involves connecting your offline inventories with real-time online webstore so when a sale occurs, inventories get deducted real time across offline as well as online platforms.

    This helps in accurate inventory management, maintaining the MOQs, re-order levels & achieving the optimum inventory levels.

    Some popular software include unicommerce, viniculum for your front-end website management & Genisys for your entire back-end Purchase, Production, Accounting, Invoicing etc. management.

    WAREHOUSE & LOGISTICS PLANNING

    • How many cities or countries you wish to sell in?
    • Where should your Warehouse be located?
    • Should you have one warehouse in each country or city?
    • Should you be having your own delivery team in your base city?
    • Would the 3rd party vendors be reliable? What happens when they lose or misplace your product during delivery?
    • How should I manage the logistics if my goods are coming from different countries?
    • How should the goods be stored and barcoded?
    • How much space do I require for warehouse?
    • I am sure several such questions must be haunting you while you think of starting your own fashion ecommerce brand.

     

    At YRC, our warehousing and logistics experts can help you devise a strategy for all of the above mentioned queries and much more.

    We design the layout of the Warehouse considering the inward, goods processing, software entry, barcoding, outward, goods return, scrap storage, goods stacking & much more.

    Logistics route plan is devised considering the manufacturer to your warehouse and from there to last mile delivery locations.

    UI & UX DESIGNING

    This Step involves 03 distinct parts:

    Part 1: Choosing the right Platform:

    From several platforms available in the market right from Shopify to magento, woocommerce, prestoshop, wordpress etc. you must choose the one that fits best for your business

    Part 2: UX Designing:

    “UX” denotes User Experience, which if put in simple language is building the functional requirements of the website.

    UX Designing includes designing the features required in the website, customer journey map, website features, the browsing features, navigation features, ecommerce order management process flow, checkout cart features, catalogue management, ecommerce payment system, cross selling features & much more.

    “As per statistics, 68% of the customers abandon the carts before payment”

    An interesting UX ensures the customer sticks on to the website for a longer time.

    Part 3: UI Designing:

    UI stands for User Interface, which means designing the look and feel of the website. UI includes using the right colours, elements and the entire aesthetics of the website.

    A good User Interface ensures the user completes the task that he has come for. It navigates the user through the journey of the brand in the simplest but most effective way.

    The UX designer maps out the bare bones of the user journey; the UI designer then fills it in with visual and interactive elements.

    If User experience is the bare bone, user interface wraps it up with an attractive cape.

    At YRC, our team if experts can help you develop the entire User Journey to ensure it is engaging!

    SAMPLING & PRODUCTION

    This step follows the “Designing” Phase, whether you have an in-house design team, freelance designers or an outsourced design company. It is one of the most exciting phases, as here you see your designs turning into products & your ideas turning into reality.

    In most start-up cases, production is outsourced i.e. brands tie-up with the established manufacturers/ job-workers to get their products manufactured.

    Sampling involves multiple 04 Stages, Fit-Sample, Prototype Sample, Pre-Production Sample & the Production Sample.

    Prototype Sample is the first sample provided to the buyer. It can be in any fabric/ colour. This sample is just to understand whether the product design looks equally great in reality.

    Fit Sample, as the name suggests is prepared to check the fit of the garment i.e. the various sizes, length, width etc.

    Pre-production is made by the actual production line. Here the stitching quality and other aspects related to manufacturing are checked. This is the last stage where rejection can be accepted.

    Production Sample is made before the production which is the replica of what is going to be finally produced.

    Once you are through with all this, you are good to go ahead & get your goods manufactured.

    PRODUCT DESIGNING / SOURCING

    Product Designing or Sourcing is the heart of the Ecommerce Fashion Brand.

    Product Designing / Sourcing can be done in several ways, as follows:

    • In-house Design Team
    • Freelance Designers
    • Outsourced Design Team
    • Ready Product Sourcing (From Manufacturer or Wholesaler)

    At YRC, we evaluate your business strategy & business model to arrive at the decision, which of the above ways would be best-fit for your business. In certain cases, product sourcing may be a combination of the above.

    These are the people who are going to build your brand! Whether they are the designers or merchandiser, your brand look is going to be in their hands.

    If you are designing each garment from the scratch, the sourcing would play crucial role in developing design identity of your brand.

    Sourcing includes fabric, trims, lining & all the raw material required to build the garment.

    BRANDING

    Branding is the “Look of the Brand”, right from logo to tagline, the colours used, the brand story, the brand communications on social media, the packaging & all the other aspects which speak directly or indirectly to the customers. Branding constitutes the look & feel of the brand & hence must be thoughtfully planned to match with the product that we are selling.

    Branding must appeal to our target audience. Example : A golden colour logo depicting finesse, art, richness, premium, however beautiful it may be individually cannot go with a brand selling affordable kids wear products. So, your logo must be in-line with your brand positioning, whether you are an expensive brand or a luxury brand or a value for money brand, it must be depicted from your “Branding”.

    It is an integral part to attract the target audience.

    ORGANOGRAMS & SOP’s

    Organogram is the “HR Blueprint” of the business which is created at the onset, to map out the team required across each function at various stages of the business. At the launch, only key people need to be got on board to ensure the project gets started & at this stage, all of them need to multi-task. Similarly, certain financial as well as operational goals are set for addition of the further team. Example, for the operations team, we hire 1 operations manager during the pre-launch phase & we add 1 more only when the business kicks-off & we reach a volume of selling more than 1000 pcs/ month or a turnover of more than 0.1 million USD.

    SOPs are Standard Operating Procedures, a bible to run the entire organization right from Sales, Purchase, HR, Order receiving to Order fulfilment, Inventory Management, Accounts, Warehouse, Logistics, Supply Chain, Production & all the other relevant functions for the business. Business must be organized from its first day of operations; only then the tasks can be delegated.

    At YRC, we design the organization structure, the processes, and approximate time taken to execute each process, job profile of every member within the organization, their KRAs, KPIs & the Reporting Structure.

    CRITICAL PATHWAY

    Critical Pathway Analysis (CPA), is a project management technique which cannot be overlooked while launching an ecommerce fashion brand. Brand launch process is cumbersome with multiple inter-dependent & time-bound tasks involved, which need to be tracked to ensure the project remains on track.

    CPA outlines key tasks across the project, their turnaround time (TAT) & the dependencies of tasks upon each other. It identifies the sequence of tasks, their interdependent steps from inception to completion, their criticalities, and their dates of onset, target dates of completion along with the key responsible person for the respective activities. Critical Pathway helps in understanding the unimportant & not urgent tasks which may jeopardize the execution of the project because of an unexpected snag! It also maps out the potential bottlenecks which might be posed because of the dependencies of tasks upon each other & cases where the next task cannot be commenced before the completion of the previous one.

    CPA detects the minimum & the maximum time involvement of a particular individual or team to execute the task, thereby arriving at the overall deadlines associated with the project.

    At Your Retail Coach, we design the Critical Pathway & review it periodically to ensure the project is on track & the progress is measurable.

    BUSINESS STRATEGY & BUSINESS PLAN

    Business Strategy includes the vision, mission, goals, business model, business plan & strategy for all the functions within the organization.

    Business Strategy is a well-defined plan that outlines who, what, where, why, how & when for the company; for example, who would be the target market, how to attract the target audience, when to launch new products, where to operate from, how to handle competitors, what would be the USP, what would be long term goal of the organization & several other answers to the 5Ws of Strategy.

    Business Strategy aligns the organization towards a common goal. Business SWOT helps company to identify & overcome their weaknesses & focus to sharpen the strengths. Business strategy forecasts future risks and helps business in building skillsets to overcome the potential threats.

    YRC’s Business Plan focuses on creating a “Blueprint” of the business, thereby deriving the feasibility of the concept & gauge whether the opportunity is lucrative to invest time, energy & effort. Business Plan creates cash flow understanding i.e. building inflow & outflow cash projections from Week zero to week 60 i.e. 05 year projection. Business Plan calculates the capital investment, operating costs, one-time costs, recurring costs & all the other numbers relevant to obtain the breakeven sales, return on investment, return on capital, internal rate of return & several other ratios. Business Plan is also one of the important requirements if you are targeting the “Investor Route”. Fund raising becomes extremely transparent & channelized. With business plan panned out clearly, the business will know until what point must it be stretched & where to stop, which reduces the probability of unplanned investments.

    MARKET RESEARCH

    Starting the concept of Ecommerce Fashion brand with Market Research ensures we get detailed understanding of the industry & this research report also acts as a social confirmation for your concept. Market Research helps in understanding the target locations, their population, potential online buyers for your product, competitors for each category, and top selling products of the competitors, competitors’ price range, offers & their responses & much more. Market Research helps in thorough understanding of your brand position as compared to our competitors. It helps in identifying gaps in the market, in your category along with the scope of the said product in the desired market. This will help in validation of your concept & prevents you from making the same mistakes as your fellow brands, eventually saving your time, energy & efforts. This phase is also a make or a break phase, as the market research study may at-times come up with some eye-popping numbers & statistics which might compel you to re-think on your product or category that you are planning to sell or alter your entire concept itself!! Market Research Reports analyse the competitors’ webstore for their traffic, conversion & sales. This is extremely valuable information to derive our inventory budgets & projections, which takes us to our next phase.