By: Ron Maier

Store image and sales are greatly affected by the method (or lack there of) of merchandise displays. Window displays create traffic while in-store displays really sell the products. To be effective with retail store display, it is vital to really understand your business from the inside out. What does your store stand for? What kind of image do you exemplify through the types of products, pricing, and quality? Knowing your business also includes researching the clientele. By examining demographics, conducting price comparisons, and recording customer reactions to promotions, a manager or owner will begin to feel the pulse of the market.

Once all of these things are understood, tackling the display design will take the business to a new level. Store display designers must have a firm grasp on fixture types, materials, props, lighting, color, and balance, while considering the many factors affecting the business in the big picture.

Acquiring displays and fixtures for the interior of a retail store is similar to hiring new employees. Their contribution to a sale is almost as high as a human associate, and so much care must be taken to choose wisely. A poor retail display can have the same affect as a bad employee, or even worse. Interior displays should capture the attention of customers, create activity, and influence a buyer's desire. Every inch of the store should be considered a potential display space. Study other successful displays and sketch out product display ideas on paper ahead of time. While mapping it out, break the store into display sections, or focuses. One should be in the main aisle, another in a high traffic area, and the last near the checkout counter. Most displays should consist of a grouping of similar merchandise or sale products.

The most popular merchandise is likely to keep customers searching for more. Store fixtures like showcases, slat walls, grid walls, hanging racks, tables, floor stands, and baskets commonly used for product grouping. Departmentalize various displays so that impulse buys are near the check out, specialized goods near the back, and small, expensive products in showcases. External and window displays play a huge role in creating traffic for the store. Displays that are viewable from the outside should be changed a dozen times during the year or more, thus requiring some planning. Each exterior display must be interesting to the demographics you are targeting. It is as if an exterior display was like a human face, the first thing people see when meeting a new person, and first impressions are very important.

Window displays are considered one of the most valuable assets for a retailer, and some creativity will go a long way. A window display should have props (possibly mannequins), a background, and signs to set the tone, but product positions, lighting, humor, and drama will make a window display complete. There is no limit to the effectiveness of a creative window display. Resist the urge to clutter up the display with too many products, and keep it simple, unique, and fun.

The decisions you make on interior and exterior displays should reflect your knowledge of your customers, your products, and your desired image. There is definitely a learning curve to creating great store displays, but the value of these displays should not be underestimated.

About the Author:

Ron Maier is the Vice President of S & L Store Fixtures, a leading online provider of gridwall panels, slat walls, and other store displays. For more information, please visit http://www.slstoredisplays.com


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