Retail Experiences: Mastering the Art of Visual Merchandising

Visual Merchandising

Nearly 60% of customers choose to shop in-store so they can see and interact with products before they buy. However, if your store is poorly designed and has ineffective displays, they might walk right out the door without ever making a purchase.

Visual merchandising is essential to making sales, especially for brick-and-mortar stores. Merchandising helps customers recognize which products are right for them, to put in their shopping baskets. whether it be a swimsuit or a frying pan. But when done incorrectly, visual merchandising may overwhelm, confuse, or turn off prospective customers.

To learn more about visual merchandising and how to master it with ease, keep reading.

What Is Visual Merchandising?

Visual merchandising in retail is the practice of displaying products in a retail space that encourages customers to interact with them and eventually make a purchase. Though you may not notice, nearly every shop you walk through has a carefully constructed way of displaying products to catch your attention.

Anything that shows off products in a store involves visual merchandising, from store windows to mannequins and even simple shelving.

Type of Merchandising Displays

There are several types of merchandising displays stores commonly use. Many retailers use a variety of types to make their space more dynamic and interesting to browsing customers. Others may limit themselves only to one or two displays that make sense for their product.

Here are some of the most common types of merchandising displays:

Display Tables and Shelves

Inside many stores, you may find tables or shelves (or both) with an arrangement of items for sale. This is common in clothing stores, supermarkets, and drugstores.

Tables can be placed in the middle of the floor, allowing customers to view products from all sides. Shelves often line aisles and are sometimes attached to walls.

It’s important to make sure products are not hidden when using tables and shelves. Avoiding clutter is key to keep items visible.

Display Cases

Display cases, like shelves, offer a flat surface to place products on. But with display cases, the items inside tend to be of high value, which is why they’re kept safe within the glass of a locked case.

Since customers aren’t able to interact freely with items in display cases, it’s best to limit the number of items kept inside. There should also be plenty of space around each product so customers can clearly see them from every angle.

Window Displays

Window displays are displays positioned behind the glass of a storefront, visible to passersby on the street. They can host anything from new cars to clothing items.

Window displays can be creative and artistic to invite customers inside. However, they should still be practical. Window displays should display products found in the store, and they may also advertise a current sale or promotional event.


In fashion merchandising, mannequins are one of the most common ways to display products.

Dressing a mannequin often requires some skill with fashion styling, as well as an understanding of current trends.

Checkout Display

You may overlook items placed near your store’s cash registers, but your customers likely won’t. Many customers look forward to the little knick-knacks and other small items located at checkout.

Checkout displays can include baskets of items next to the register, racks lining the checkout queue, or a shelf of practical items customers always need (such as batteries or gum).

Interactive Displays

Technology is shaping visual merchandising, leading to an influx of interactive displays.

From touchscreens to responsive mirrors, there are countless ways to incorporate interactivity into your displays. Try custom POP displays to boost your customers’ experience in your shop.

Elements to Use in Visual Merchandising

While the main focus of visual merchandising should always be your products, there are several elements you can incorporate to bring your displays to life.

To master creative visual merchandising, experiment with elements including:

  • color schemes and pops of color
  • lighting
  • signage
  • touch and interactivity (allowing customers to feel and try the products they see)
  • empty space between individual items or entire displays
  • balanced design (adding symmetry as well as variety where needed)
  • wall fixtures and other decor that helps showcase products
  • a focal point in each display
  • store layout

Some of these elements may be difficult to master at first. To get started, browse other stores to see how they utilize these elements. You can also study basic design concepts to help you create beautiful displays. With time, you’ll become a pro at elements like lighting and balance.

Final Tips to Make the Most of Your Displays

There isn’t one “right” way of visual merchandising. However, a few basic tips can be useful for almost anyone and any retail space.

One important tip is to always keep your customer in mind. Consider what kind of design they’re drawn to, which items they may be looking for in your store, and even how tall they are (this can help you determine how high to place certain products).

You should also incorporate your brand identity in your displays. If you have specific brand colors or signage typography, stick with those.

On the other hand, don’t make the mistake of keeping your displays too predictable. Change up your visual merchandising from time to time to keep customers’ attention.

When deciding where to place products, consider having one bold wall, table, or rack that highlights an of-the-moment item. Situate other products with complementary items. For example, you may want to display a shelf of cooking oil next to cookware.

Finally, don’t go overboard with your displays. An overly maximalist design may just overwhelm customers. And when displaying expensive items, make sure to leave more space around them, whether they be in a case, on a shelf, or hanging from a rack.

Master the Art of Visual Merchandising

Visual merchandising is essential to guiding your customers through your store and encouraging them to buy. Master visual merchandising with the essential tips discussed here.

For more tips for business, design, and life, check out our other posts!