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The Art of Retail Display - How to Visual Merchandise

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"Presentation. That's a big talent." - Adriana Trigiani

I've been working in retail for 8 years now and have always been interested in window dressing and how shops create visually stimulating displays. I'm currently a visual merchandiser for a jewellery company - for some people it'd be too 'fiddily' but I just love working with jewellery!

This page is a short exploration on some of the areas that fascinate me.


How to be prepared for Bank Holiday trade!

* Have sale lines already stickered in backup, ready for quick replenishment.

* Organise your backup stock so you know how much of everything you have and to aid quick replenishment.

* Have enough staff in during the morning and evening to restock and recover product.

* Have enough staff during peak trade, to serve and deal with enquiries. Have you considered employing temps?

* Make sure your team know what their sales targets are and that they are kept motivated.

Good luck, stay calm and most importantly enjoy retail's most exciting and lucrative times!

How to merchandise clothing effectively.

Always remember some rules are meant to be broken - use your judgement if you think it looks good go with it!

* I tend to keep skirts and trousers near the bottom of a wall or display. Tops and shirts nearer the top as it's less visually taxing for the customer to scan.

* Highlight product details and features by facing them forward when possible as it'll help the item sell!

* Always allow items space to display without touching the arm below etc - if it looked cramped a customer won't spend time looking at it.

* Ensure items are steamed if necessary to remove creases and help items look their best.

* Use identical hangers and face them the same direction througout the display. I suggest using a '?' shape as a reminder to always keep hangers that shape.

* Face clothes towards the front of the shop and towards the aisles to maximise exposure and create a sense of tidiness.

* Try not to place items higher than the average customer can reach.

* Use all available POS and props were appropriate to generate visual interest.

* Group items by style, range, type of clothing, colour.

* Always ensure your items are ordered by size as it shows attention to detail.

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* When possible if items are on 'clip' hangers make sure that the trousers or skirt are folded neatly so that they are the width of the hanger. It makes displays look much tidier.

Don't be afraid to do something different, make your display memorable.

Don't be afraid to do something different, make your display memorable.

Don't be afraid to do something different, make your display memorable.

How to visual merchandise a jewellery display.

...just some tips I've picked up along the way!

* Always make sure product is diplayed with labels/boxes/tags facing the same direction.

* Ensure that all items are perfectly aligned or if offset, ensure that it looks intentional!

* Symmetry is a great way of making your display look visually appealing and ordered. Make similar items match on opposite sides or similar colours etc.

* Make sure all jewellery is clean and shiny to show it off to the best of it's advantage.

* To increase add-on sales merchandise matching items adjacent to each other or in an obvious spot.

* Although time consuming - make sure all clasps, fittings etc are aligned or if displayed on cards, hidden by the card. You'll be amazed how much neater your display will look.

* To create striking displays, make a feature of your bestselling line. Double or triple face it if possible. Bold fashionable colours or the new must have item may be enough to entice a passing customer to purchase.

* Use all available 'point of sale' material to your advantage, although be careful not to let it detract from the impact of your display. Highlight promotions clearly to maximise sales.

* Mannequins and jewellery stands can really help the customer visualise what the jewellery will look like when they wear it. Make sure you take every opportunity available to display your jewellery on mannequins and displays throughout the store.

* Always adhere to colour or story ranges as it'll really help your display look striking.

* Use your knowledge of colour theory to ensure that adjacent ranges of jewellery don't clash. I'm always reluctant to merchandise silver pieces alongside gold and pink shades near yellows etc.

Look at the window display from the street. How does it look? Could you change anything to improve it?

Look at the window display from the street. How does it look? Could you change anything to improve it?

Look at the window display from the street. How does it look? Could you change anything to improve it?

Some quotations about visual merchandising...

"The windows were full of wonders. In one, rivulets of diamonds and avalanches of pearls poured onto dark velvet. In another, female torsos paraded in filmy lingerie of every sorbet shade from lime to raspberry... Lèche-vitrine they called in France. Not window-shopping, but window-licking." from 'Weekend in Paris' by Robyn Sisman.

"Every morning when I hop off the bus at 35th street and 5th avenue I am still awed by the fact that I have a job at the best department store in New York city. I never take it for granted...Every time I walk through the main entrance- and it's been this way every day of my working life - I feel a rush of excitement, followed by a jolt of self confidence. I look up at the twinkling chandeliers, inhale the fine perfumes... and feel that anything is possible." "I never take the elevators to our offices on the third floor. I prefer the escalators because I don't want to miss a single one of the displays, which are changed monthly by the window dressers who are renowned for their realistic mannequin tableaux. Last winter they built an ice-skating pond with mirrors on the floor, surrounded with clumps of artificial snow and set out two mannequins skating à deux with glass stars swinging over their heads. The male mannequin wore a navy blue and white Nordic wool sweater. The display was so popular that every daughter in New York City, including me bought her father that sweater for Christmas."

"Everywhere you look a treasure."

"A girl could get lost in here forever and never tire of the glamour."

"Half the battle is looking the part."

"Making a stylish and comfortable pair of shoes takes artistry and architecture."

"Presentation, that's a big talent."

"Perhaps the right connections aren't simply social, but a world of deeply layered ideas, shared by people who care about them."

"I've done very well with my talents, but I haven't pushed myself. I have ideas and the passion to execute them, but there is a whole world I haven't experienced, and it would have allowed me to rise to the top."

"...talent may be a gift, but persistence is it's own reward." from 'Lucia, Lucia' by Adriana Trigiani.

Great use of lighting to create an atmosphere


A great fun film about the world of fashion.

Remember your target audience and what you're trying to sell.

Remember your target audience and what you're trying to sell.

Remember your target audience and what you're trying to sell.

Tips on how to create a stunning window display.

* Choose to display products that you know will sell well and that you have enough stock of to keep up with the demand created from the exposure in the window.

* Make sure your backdrop in the window (and the window itself!) is pristine before you start dressing the window.

* Plan your scene and execute the window change as seamlessly as possible. Choose a quiet day, change it at night or block the window out if the work will be intensive.

* Make sure your window is seasonal and will capture the interest of your target market. Try to keep an eye on what your local competitors are doing and aim to remain unique and communicate your brand ethos clearly.

* Look after your mannequins and props well as they're working for you all the time between your window changes. Keep them clean and in good repair so that they can show off your products to their full effect.

* Consider refurbishing or replacing ageing or damaged props as they'll damage the brand's message.

* Don't be afraid to be creative - spark people's interest and it'll pay off in sales!

Let the product speak for itself!

Let the product speak for itself!

Let the product speak for itself!

Some Visual Merchandising Sites

Great use of window displays...


Reader Feedback

anonymous on September 05, 2013:

2014 is going to be an adventure for retail. What we're seeing here at is retailers really pushing ( at least with custom retail displays ) the creative limits to help make the retail experience second 2 none.

anonymous on June 17, 2013:

In the first display. ( circular window cut out)

I felt the colors were blending a lot. Probably the lighting inside a little more brighter / focused.

Or the background of the wall could be a dark color ( black) since the suits are white.

Well it's a suggestion since you asked what could be different about it.

I like your analysis on the subject. Quite Insightful.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on June 17, 2012:

You truly know display.

LewesDE on February 18, 2012:

This is an awesome lens!

Beverly Rodriguez from Albany New York on December 06, 2011:

There is a lot of wonderful information in this lens. I worked in the Jewelry Department of a large store, and your lens has really great tips.

Sandra (author) from Belfast on November 28, 2011:

@vendexo: Hi, I had a think! - I've posted some ideas on a new lens called e-commerce-making-your-online-store-visually-effective have a look and let me know what you think, thanks Sandra

vendexo on November 28, 2011:

Hi Sandra, some good advice there for retailers. What words of wisdom can you offer online retailers? Clearly when shopping online, the customers are dealing with different information. What can the online retailer do to ensure that the customer is seeing what he/she needs & wants to see, and that the "display" is at its best?

Faye Rutledge from Concord VA on November 25, 2011:

Great ideas!

Elsie Hagley from New Zealand on November 24, 2011:

Nice Lens. You have a great knowledge of window dressing.Looking forward to your next lens. Thanks for sharing.

Mona from Iowa on November 23, 2011:

Nicely done. Display is a big part of the sales process for anything. As an artist and a business owner I am always looking for better ways to showcase my merchandise.

pencilonpaper on November 23, 2011:

Itâs all about product presentation. This will instantly attract your customerâs attention and make him or her want to know more about your product.

anonymous on October 05, 2011:

Thanks, Sandra! This really helped me a lot and I will definitely visit your blog again!

All the best, Jewelis ;)

AdeleW on October 01, 2011:

A great lens, we are just about to have a total re-design in our fancy dress shop, so this has been very interesting - thanks for sharing!

yifudisplay on June 24, 2011:

handbag stand

theclickfactory on November 03, 2010:

I believe mannequins are the best way to sell your clothes.



Female Mannequins

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