Two years ago, I was sitting through a talk by Mr. Joseph Weishar- an eminent and accomplished personality in the field of visual merchandising, I remember thinking -wow thats a lot of years.

Mr. Weishar has been successfully working in the retail industry for over 50 years.

Last fifty years---- now thats a really long time. Its a time when I wasnt even born, a time when India was fighting its battle for freedom.

As a country organised retail was nowhere in the picture.

Internationally though organised retail was established way back in the late 1800s. Early 20th century saw a boom in the retail business in the USA and Europe. All retail needs operations, production, supply chain, display, architecture, planning & visual merchandising were studied, understood, re worked and developed. These were customised to the consumer needs.

Retailing had now existed globally for about 100 years. In India though, we saw traces of organised retail only in the early 1990s. We had 50 +years of lag time, as compared to the rest of the world. We had to move at a break neck speed and get to the world standards soon. Though it was quite a challenge the path had already been paved for us. The mistakes had been made. The right courses chalked out, researches done and a lot of patient understanding had already been achieved.

We were at an advantage. We had to draw from their experiences and customise it to suit our environment. The emphasis on design was apparent and display and visual merchandising played a key role.

But unfortunately unlike the western countries, where visual merchandising received highest priority in commercial planning of a product, the Indian industry did not understand or practice the concept of visual merchandising in its entirety. As time rolls on and the retail industry is growing in India, and the Indian consumer being extremely fastidious the industry will need to compete purely on the competitive edge of the product. Visual merchandising will be a very helpful tool in that. Visual merchandising helps project the uniqueness of the product thereby increasing the market access and sales.

It is time the Indian retailer understands and adopts the scientific and professional system of VM than the traditional practices of display of products.

What is visual merchandising then?

VM (as is the industry short form for visual merchandising) is an art and science of displaying merchandise to enable maximum sale. It is a tool to achieve sales and targets, a tool to enhance merchandise on the floor, and a mechanism to communicate to a customer and influence his decision to buy.

It is one of the key stages in setting out a store that customers will find attractive and appealing.

VM is a creative and effective way of

  • educating the customer- about the product/ service
  • establishing a medium to present in a 3D environment, enabling long lasting impact and recall value
  • setting the company apart in an exclusive position
  • keeping the product in focus, thus establishing linkage between styling, design and marketing.
  • combining the creative, technical and operational aspects of a product and business
  • drawing a customers attention to enable him/her to make a purchase decision within the shortest possible time and thus augmenting the selling process.