Visual merchandising is the art of using visual techniques to increase sales. We say that it is an art because of the imagination and creativity you can use to boost interest in your store. Visual merchandising can involve lighting, the use of space, signage, sales and promotional events, branding and much more. While possibilities are really endless, we will give you some ideas on how you can use visual merchandising to increase your sales.

Perhaps the most striking and effective method of visual merchandising is the use of mannequins. Mannequins personalize items for consumers. It gives them a much better environment of how an article of clothing or an accessory will look when they put it on. For example, baby doll dresses are really popular right now. These dresses hanging on a hanger might look a lot like a sack. Some women are also under the impression that you have to be sixteen to wear one, or you might look immature or silly. Your dilemma is that you want to sell these dresses to everyone. Mannequins can be very useful in this situation.

By putting the dress on a mannequin, you can show how it looks on an actual body. This is a huge improvement over how it looked hanging on the hanger. But, the benefits do not end there. You can give a mannequin whatever personality you want it to have. In a city scene, you can make the dress look sophisticated. In a country scene, you can make it look whimsical and light. If you are targeting a teenage audience, you might consider having your mannequin in a school setting. What ever you come up with, use your imagination. Play around with it until you make that dress look good.

Shoppers want to feel a certain way when they wear new clothes. There is a lot more to buying clothes than just buying what fits. We can boost our egos with what we wear, express individuality, project a style or an attitude, establish our social standing, the list goes on and on. Determining exactly how your customers want to feel can be difficult and you can not please every single person. If you target a certain group then it can get easier.

Consider the lighting. Do you want it dark and gothic, sophisticated and interesting, or bright and active? The colors, lighting and store displays need to work together to produce the feel that you are after. People have more positive reactions to items that are behind glass, under a spotlight or on a mannequin. You can really boost your sales by implementing just these three techniques.

One last benefit of mannequins in visual merchandising is the sheer number of items that you can display at one time. You are not only forwardly promoting a certain dress or outfit, but subliminally promoting all of the accessories that go with it. Scarves, jewelry, shoes, tights, purses and hats are just the start of the list. If someone wants the look that they saw in your display window, then they are much more likely to buy the accessories that go along with your main item.

In short, mannequins can boost your sales and help communicate the theme and attitude of your store to your customers. Using mannequins for visual merchandising is simple and effective.

The Author is the Vice President of S & L Store Fixtures, a leading provider of retail store displays and store fixtures, including slat wall accessories, mannequins and more.