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  • How to Use The Zoom Effect To Avoid Confusing Customers

    Cartoon of a monarch butterfly

    Imagine a photograph of a Monarch butterfly
    When you see the photograph you can immediately recognize it from its black-orange-white wing pattern. If you zoom in with camera and photograph a portion of the wing, you still might recognize the pattern of shapes and colours. But if you look at the wing in a microscope on low power, you start to see the scales on the wing. And on an even higher magnification, you see even more detail.

    Introducing the zoom effect
    When you look at the butterfly at such a high level of detail, you can no longer see an image of a butterfly. This is the zoom effect. If you saw this detail first, you would have no idea what you were looking at.

    The zoom effect also happens in stores
    Often stores have merchandise artfully arranged on tables, shelves and display areas.  It’s as if the store displays are a bunch of different photographs taken through a microscope. Each photograph is very beautiful.

    What’s wrong with the zoom effect?
    The zoom effect is just what you get as you move closer and closer to an object.

    The problem is that when we don’t understand the zoom effect, customers get confused.  A collection of beautiful displays won’t be effective, if the customer doesn’t understand how the store is organized.  An organized shelf won’t look attractive if it doesn’t seem  balanced with the shelves around it.

    When the details look good, but the overall layout of the store is confusing, it’s hard for customers to understand how each display relates to another. What they’re missing is the big picture.

    Shoppers won’t show their confusion by stumbling out of the store. But they’ll buy less then they would in a store that organizes the merchandise in a way that is easy to understand.

    How do you use the zoom effect to organize the store?
    Start backwards.

    Don’t start with the displays. Or organizing a shelf. Start with the big picture, and then zoom in. Just like you would with a camera.

    There are three ‘shots’ you need for the zoom effect:
    1) Panorama shot
    2) Medium shot
    3) Close-up

    1) Panorama shot
    The panorama shot is the view of the whole store. This is what customers see when approaching the store, or coming in the door. In a glance, customers take in the entire picture. The brain very quickly maps out the organization of the store.

    It’s important that this panorama view is simple and easy for the customer to take in that glance. If it’s too confusing, the customer gets overwhelmed.

    Organize the merchandise into three distinct stories. While your merchandise might change every season, each of the three stories will have it’s own section of the store. These sections will rarely change.

    For fashion related goods such as; clothing, home décor, gifts and tableware; each story would be a colour, pattern or style theme. A clothing store might have: casual/weekend wear, basics, urban/career wear.

    For a hardware store the three stories might be: yard and garden, interiors, lumber.

    A computer store might have: computers and hardware, software and accessories, cameras and camera gear.

    The three stories will help customers quickly get oriented to the store layout to find what they want. That brings us to the next level of detail.

    2) Medium shot
    The medium shot is where the customer sees a department or section of the store. Just like a photograph, the medium shot in the store has a foreground, middle ground and background.

    The foreground is made up of the fixtures at the front of the department, near the main aisle. These fixtures welcome the customer to the department, and frame the view of the rest of the department.

    The front fixtures may be lower than fixtures in the centre of the department, so the viewer can see the merchandise behind them. Tables are often used in this location.

    Middle ground
    The middle ground is usually the biggest area on the floor. This is everything between the foreground and background. It will consist of most of your floor fixtures. In this area there may be gondolas arranged in rows. In a clothing store it could be 4-way racks, tables and other merchandise fixtures. When organizing these fixtures, it is important that they are grouped to provide a view to the back wall. The middle ground fixture provide a frame for the background.

    Within the middle ground, merchandise is organized in categories, or groups, of similar merchandise. It is important to group merchandise together in a way that is logical and based on the way your customers shop. Organize aisles and fixtures so that items that will be used together are placed in close proximity to each other. This makes it easy for customers to find everything they need in one area.

    A yard and garden department in a hardware store might have categories such as:
    Gardening: seeds, pots, hand tools, stakes
    General Yard Tools: hoses, rakes, large garden tools
    Lawn Maintenance: seed, fertilizers, mowers

    Once all your categories are organized in the middle ground, let’s look at the background.

    The background is the back wall of the department. At least part of the background should be visible at the end of a main aisle, or above the middle ground fixtures. The background provides a destination.

    Often a back wall features a key display and spotlighting to draw customers in through the store. It could also present department signs or lifestyle graphics that demonstrate products being used. Usually customers will see the back wall of a department from a distance, so large signs, graphics or some displays can be placed above eye level. These elements are used to inform the customer about what they’ll find in that department.

    Now that we know how to organize the middle ground, let’s look at the close-up shot.

    3) Close-up
    The close-up is where you organize the details. The close-up deals with organizing merchandise on a rack, shelf, table-top or display area.

    This is where you focus on display techniques that encourage shoppers to touch and browse merchandise. The close-up shots are about creating artistic and appealing presentations. Shelves will present the variety of styles and assortments of colour.

    In key displays, you will also cross-merchandise products from different categories, to demonstrate how they are used together.

    Pulling it all together
    All three shots are needed to tell a good visual story. If you focus on beautiful displays, but don’t consider the overall layout and organization of the store, sales may suffer. Create a strong organizational structure with panorama and medium shots to make your close-ups shine

    1) Panorama shot
    The panorama shots give the wide angle view to help customers understand the layout of the store.

    2) Medium shot
    The medium shots organize categories in a way that customer find easy to understand. Merchandising complimentary categories together helps boost sales.

    3) Close-up shot
    The close-up shots are where you create appealing and artistic displays to encourage shoppers to pick up the merchandise.

    Just like photographs of a butterfly, the panorama shot helps us to understand the beauty of the close-up.

    Next Step
    Over the coming weeks we will look at each of these shots in more detail. Next week’s article will focus on the panorama shot. Look forward to finding out more about how to organize the three main stories for your store.

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    How to Create Customer Dreams in Your Store


    Have you ever walked into a store and just fallen in love?
    It’s as if the store was created just for you.
    It smells heavenly.
    The lighting is beautiful.
    Each display is exquisite.
    The products are calling you.
    It’s perfect.


    it’s out of your price range
    But you enjoy the atmosphere of the store
    so much that you stay to browse.
    You feel the fabrics.
    Examine the fine stitching.
    Feel the weight of the silverware in your hand.

    You imagine…
    …what that table would look like in your kitchen.
    …what you’d look like in that sweater.
    …how the bbq would look on your deck.

    You dream of the day…
    when you’ll be able to go home
    with a table, sweater or bbq like those.
    For now, you’re happy to take home just a little piece of
    the dream. A table cloth, scarf or bbq accessories.

    Shoppers want to take home the dream
    Even if it’s just a small taste of the dream.

    You can help your customers dream
    There are three methods you can use to
    help your customers dream:

    1) Vignette displays
    2) Varied price points
    3) Visible pricing

    1) Vignette displays
    Vignette displays are small scenes. The purpose of a vignette is to show shoppers how products work together.This type of display works best with stores that sell furniture, home décor or gifts and tableware. When you have furniture or housewares, it is easy to create a scene that could be a part of someone’s home.

    Set up a vignette in one section of the store, or as a window display. Using furniture, linens and décor items, create a scene that looks like a room in a house.

    Vignettes can work for other stores too
    Vignettes can be used in stores selling clothing.
    Pet supplies.
    All it takes is a little thinking. And maybe a few props. A vignette doesn’t have to spell out all the details. It can just suggest a scene.

    A clothing store could create a vignette that suggests a bedroom at night. Hang clothes on hooks on a wall. A chair nearby has a coat over the back, and a sweater folded on the seat. A pair of shoes are lined up neatly next to the chair.It looks like clothes laid out for the next day.

    If you sell pet supplies instead, create a vignette to suggest an outing to take the dog for a walk. Include a leash, treats, clothing and toys.

    Vignettes don’t have to be large displays
    A few books stacked on a table, with a pair of reading glasses and a teacup are enough. The glasses and teacup add personality to the display.

    A magazine opened to an inviting page demonstrating a building project can be transformed into a display. Add a toolbelt and workgloves with a circular saw, a handful of nails, hammer and some small scraps of lumber to suggest a building project underway.

    Vignettes like these are just one way to help shoppers dream. That brings us to pricing.

    2) Varied price points
    How you price items in your vignettes can attract or repel shoppers. To attract shoppers to dream about your products, use a variety of price points.

    High price
    Large, key pieces in the vignette will be the high priced items. These are the products that attract the customer to the display. They are visible from a distance.

    A home décor store would use furniture, such as a table and chairs. A museum shop would use a beautiful artwork. A clothing store might use a beautiful coat, or a leather jacket. A hardware store could use expensive tools.

    The high price items command attention.But a display that consists only of high ticket items will quickly turn off many shoppers. They won’t stick around if everything is priced out of reach. Mixing some lower priced items into the display keeps the attention of the aspirational shoppers.

    Low – medium price
    Fill in the vignette display with small items affordable products. Lower prices don’t mean lower quality.Maintain the same high standards for quality and design in your lower priced items.

    Some customers may not be able to afford the table and chairs, but perhaps they can afford the vase. Or the wine glasses.

    The museum shop would display high quality art notecards, calendars or books. The clothing store would use a scarf. The hardware store could use copies of Fine Woodworking magazine.

    Customers want to take a piece of their dream home with them. The high priced items are what they dream about– the table and chairs, the artwork, the leather jacket. But they can take a lower priced product home today. When they use that item,they remember the dream. And savour it.

    But, what good is affordable pricing if shoppers can’t see the price? That brings us to the third method for helping your customers dream.

    3) Visible pricing
    Shoppers want to know the price of the items on display. When prices are hard to find, shoppers turn away.They assume that if products aren’t priced visibly, the items must be expensive.

    To attract shoppers that will dream about your big ticket items, and save up for them–you need to tell them the price. Pricing the items clearly will let the customer know that the products have a range of price points. They’ll realize that not all the items are out of their price range.

    Create unobtrusive, but visible price signs that complement the identity of the store. Use custom hangtags attached with string. Or elegant tent cards. Or a price list in a picture frame.

    Why would you want shoppers who can’t afford to buy now?
    These shoppers take up a lot of time.They browse. Or buy one or two small items. They aren’t the most profitable. So why would you want to attract them to your store? Loyalty.

    Not the kind of loyalty that is given in exchange for earning points on a rewards card. I mean real loyalty. The kind that keeps customers coming back, year after year.

    These customers develop a relationship with you and your store. Treat these aspirational shoppers well when they buy just one item. Or come in just to browse and dream.

    Where will do you think they will go to splurge on a luxury for themselves when they land that new job? Or get a promotion? Where do you think they’ll shop when they save up the money for that new sofa? Or a piece of art they’ve been eyeing in your store?

    Get customers to dream in your store
    Get them to come back when they’re ready to make that dream come true.
    Let’s recap how you can help those shoppers dream:

    1) Vignette displays
    Create small scenes in your displays to show shoppers how products work together.

    2) Varied price points
    Within your vignettes, use a variety of price points to attract a variety of

    3) Visible pricing
    Don’t hide your prices. Make the pricing visible, but attractive.

    Get your shoppers to fall in love
    Use these three steps together to woo them.
    Give them the store they dream about.
    And keep them coming back for more.


    Recommended Product: Why Customers Aren’t Buying (And How To Fix It): The Pinwheel Principle

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    Share Your Display Ideas


    Instead of an article this week, I’d like to get your input.
    I want to create a space where Retail Tips readers can share ideas, challenges and success stories. It will also be a space where you can get some feedback on your store projects.

    I’m working on how I can implement this on my website. It will take some time to get it set up. In the meantime, you can help shape what this space will look like.

    How can you help?
    There are two ways you can get involved:

    1) Let me know what you think
    2) Post your photos on my Facebook wall

    1) Let me know what you think

    Tell me if you like the idea of having a space to share about your store, post photos of displays and get feedback and suggestions.

    If you don’t like it, what would be better?
    What would you like to have in an online community of retailers?
    What kind of merchandising and display help do you need?

    How do you send me your thoughts?
    1) Send me an email at:
    2) Comment on this blog post below.
    3) Post your thoughts on my Facebook Wall here:​cebookpage
    (You have to ‘Like’ the page to post comments)

    2) Post your display photos on my Facebook wall

    Post photos of your store displays or product presentation on the Inspire Retail Solutions wall.

     I’ll comment on each photo with:
    1) One thing I love about your display
    2) One suggestion to help your display be even more effective

    How will you benefit?
    You get:

    • to share your store with others
    • to see ideas from other retailers
    • feedback on your displays and merchandising
    •  AND a chance to win a free copy of the ebook the Pinwheel Principle: How to Increase Sales Without Slashing Prices (

    All submissions will be entered into a random draw. The winner will receive access to download the Pinwheel Principle ebook.

    Deadline to submit your photo for the draw: July 31, 2011 

    NOTE: Photo must be of a store you own, manage or are employed at. You must have permission to share the photo.

    How do you post pictures?

    1) Like the page

    First, you have to ‘Like’ the Melanie McIntosh – Inspire Retail Solutions page. That means click the ‘Like’ button at the top of the page.

    But, what if I don’t want to ‘Like’ the page?
    That’s OK. You can just email the photo to Send a description, your name and your store name with the photo. I’ll post in on my Facebook page for you. ;)

    2) Click the photo button at the top of the wall Wall will look something like this:

    See where it says ‘Photo’? Click on that link on the Facebook page.

    Upload your photo. Use the text box to type in a description about the photo.

    3) Click the ‘Share button
    You’re done! I look forward to seeing your displays!

    Here’s the link again to share your pics:​cebookpage

    (And yes – I’m still working on that article about how to merchandise to help your customers dream! It’ll be posted next week.)


    Recommended Product: Why Customers Aren’t Buying (And How To Fix It): The Pinwheel Principle

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    How to Save Your Products From a Death Sentence

    Some people have green thumbs.
    I have black thumbs.
    A potted plant in my hands gets a death sentence.

    Not intentionally, of course. I love plants. But I struggle to keep them alive and healthy. I just don’t notice them. They’re in my peripheral vision, and I forget about them. Until it’s too late.

    Your products can suffer a death sentence too
    You know those places in your store where products languish and gather dust? Often it’s the bottom shelf. Products sit there, ignored by customers. The bottom shelf is like a product graveyard.

    We tend to place products in horizontal rows along shelves. If we have an empty shelving unit with products, often we’ll fill it like we read. We start at the top left, filling the shelf across to the right. Then we fill the next shelf down. And so on, and so on. Now, we may not always start at the top. But it’s extremely common to fill horizontally across each shelf.

    This is the habit that sentences your products to a slow death. You end up with products left on the lower shelves that no one sees. And no one buys.

    Why don’t shoppers notice products on the lower shelves?

    When product is merchandised horizontally, shoppers mostly see only what is at eye level. They scan the shelves by turning their head to the left or right, or by walking past. This leaves product on lower shelves ignored and unsold.

    How can you save your products from this demise?

    Shoppers are most likely to see merchandise that is presented between waist level, and eye level. Capitalize on this key selling area, and eliminate the death sentence by using vertical merchandising.

    What is vertical merchandising?

    Vertical merchandising means placing merchandise in vertical columns instead of horizontal rows.

    What are the benefits of vertical merchandising?
    Merchandising in vertical columns exposes more product options to shoppers. It makes it easier for them to see and compare product offerings.

    Vertical merchandising also improves the appearance and organization of the store. A wide product selection can look messy and overwhelming to customers. Presented consistently in vertical columns, a a large selection will appear organized and easy to shop.


    In the illustration below, the bottles of oils and vinegars are all presented vertically creating organized, attractive bands of colour. The shopper can scan across the entire selection at a glance.

    The same selection is presented on each shelf, so the bottom shelf is not a graveyard of unseen products.

    How do you use vertical merchandising?

    As products sell from the upper shelf, lower merchandise needs to be moved up to fill the spaces. The upper shelves remain full and attractive. The blank spots that remain are on the lowest shelf, where they are not as noticeable. When new stock is received, it is filled in on the lowest shelf.

    By rotating merchandise this way, the products sold first are the ones that arrived in the store first. Selling the oldest items first reduces the chances of products expiring, or sitting around gathering dust.

    So, what are you waiting for?

    Start merchandising your products in vertical columns. Make sure your customers can see what you have to offer, and get rid of the product death sentence.

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    How Layers Add Pizzazz to Window Displays

    Thin slivers of cake.
    Whipped cream.
    Sliced berries.
    Chocolate shavings.

    I ogle cakes in bakeries. The elaborate layered ones that look so fabulous in the bakery case. I can bake basic cakes myself. Mine are good enough, but a little boring. Nothing like the fabulous professional bakery concoctions that make my mouth water.

    A professional window display is like a bakery layer cake. It has visual interest that sets it apart and attracts attention.

    You can tell a professional window display at a glance
    Professional windows stand out because they use of layers. Layers give the display pizzazz. They add depth to the window display. The layers and depth add keep the display from being too boring.

    To understand how layers can be used in a window display, let’s look at this example from a Roots store.

    There are three layers in a window display. All of these layers are used in the Roots window display. Even though the display area is less than 18 inches deep, the layers use that depth effectively.

    The three layers in a window display are:

    Layer 1 – Background
    Layer 2 – Middle ground
    Layer 3 – Foreground

    Let’s take a look at those layers in more detail.

    Layer 1 – Background

    The background of a window display is important. The background of the display screens off the rest of the store from view. Without a background, a display loses impact. The store interior distracts attention from the display.

    To keep attention focused on the display, you need to have a background.

    There are three types of backgrounds:

    a) Permanent screens

    Permanent screens includes any kind of full or partial wall that is constructed at the back of the display. The wall closes in the display, forming a permanent background for the window. A wall can be left alone, or combined with other backgrounds.

    b) Temporary screens
    Temporary screen partially closing off the back of the display with materials that are easily removed. The easiest way to create a temporary screen, is to hang a light coloured, translucent fabric from a dowel at the back of the window. This creates a background for the display, but does not completely block light from the window.

    c) Signs, posters or graphics
    Large signs are commonly used in displays. They can be used as a temporary screen on their own, or they can be combined with one of the other two background techniques. When signs or graphics are used, they attract attention to the background of the display.

    Let’s take a look at how the Roots display uses the background.

    The Roots display uses both the permanent screening and a large hanging sign. The partial walls of wood screen the store interior from view, and provide a warm neutral background colour for displays. The Winter Sale sign is hung in the back of the display window. In this case, the sign is the main focal point of the window, even though it is positioned in the background. The design of the window is intended to direct your attention to this sign in the centre of the display.

    Layer 2 – Middle ground
    The middle ground of a window display is where products are displayed. This is the space between the glass and the background. Displays of merchandise do not have to be elaborate to be effective.

    The Roots product display is intentionally simple. The goal of this window is to direct attention to the Winter Sale sign. The mannequins frame the sign without blocking it.

    The stacked cardboard boxes on the right hand side balance the mannequins on the left. They frame and support the focal point without detracting from it.

    Layer 3 – Foreground
    The foreground is the glass of the window. The glass can be used by placing signs and display materials directly behind it. Or the glass can be used for a surface for paint, vinyl graphics and text, or signs.

    The foreground is a great place to repeat the store name. It can also be used to create a decorative frame around the window. Vinyl cling-film signs work well on the glass. They are re-positionable and reusable. Vinyl graphics and signs are effective because are easily seen in spite of reflections and glare on the windows.

    Let’s take a look at how the Roots window makes use of the foreground.

    In the Roots window, even the background and middle ground are close the the window. The only other foreground treatment in the red sign on the window, announcing an extra 20% off.

    Even with this shallow space, layers can be effective. You can see how the layers make use of the entire space and create more interest than just a single sign or product display.


    To give your displays professional pizzaz, think of those luscious bakery layer cakes. Add interest and flair to your displays with these three layers:

    Layer 1 – Background
    Layer 2 – Middle ground

    Layer 3 – Foreground

    Use the three layers in your displays to improve them right away.

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    How Supermarket Display Techniques Can Help You Sell

    When was the last time you walked out of a grocery store with only one item?

    You go to the store to pick up milk. But you come out with several items you didn’t plan on buying. This happens to everyone. An overwhelming majority of grocery store purchase decisions are made inside the store. And it’s not a coincidence that the displays are masterful.

    You can learn a lot about display just by browsing your local supermarket. The best ones to visit are the higher priced gourmet markets. The displays are stunning. And effective. They get shoppers to buy.

    You can learn many tips for great displays by visiting the produce department of a gourmet supermarket.

    Let’s look at three supermarket display techniques that you can borrow:

    1. Angled merchandise
    2. Colour
    3. Containers & Props

    1. Angled merchandise
    When you browse the produce department, you’ll notice that most, if not all of the displays are angled, or tiered. That means the display is lowest at the front, and rises up towards the back. This technique is used to present more merchandise to the customer in a small space.

    Presenting the merchandise this way also makes it look more attractive. You’ll notice that these displays look full and bountiful. There are also a number of different types of products arranged in layers. The variety of product makes these displays appear more attractive.

    Let’s look at the second display technique.

    2. Colour
    Once you start looking for colour in produce displays, you’ll start noticing it over and over. Produce is often displayed to make the colours appear more vibrant, attractive and mouth watering. This is done by placing contrasting colours next to each other.

    In a large supermarket, it is rare to see a big cluster of green vegetables all together. You’ll see the green interspersed with bright colours. Green lettuce will be next to red leaf lettuce and radicchio. Green peppers next to red and yellow. Green apples next to red.

    The contrasting colours are used in combination with the technique of angled merchandise. The produce department is full of artistic, still life arrangements to tempt us into buying. Yet most shoppers are unaware of how carefully each of these displays is planned to be visually pleasing. The colour in these arrangements is one of the biggest factors in making the produce tempting to shoppers.

    This brings us to the final technique.

    3. Containers & Props
    Supermarkets use carefully chosen containers and props to present their merchandise. When you browse the produce department you’ll see baskets and crates used for display. They are there purely to set the mood for the department. These are the tools the stores use to create the image of farm fresh produce. Although they do help hold the products, these containers serve mainly as props.

    If you look closely at the baskets used in grocery stores, you’ll notice they aren’t completely filled with product. Most of them either have false bottoms, or are mainly filled with raffia or other filler.

    Why is that? Well, produce looks appealing when it is mounded up and full. Not when you have to peer into the bottom of a basket to find it. Also, produce is heavy. A big basket filled with produce will be causing damage to the ones that are at the bottom. So, supermarkets keep their baskets full and overflowing by restocking them regularly.

    Don’t be afraid to learn from the masters of display. Take these techniques and adapt them for your displays.

    1. Angled merchandise – use angled containers or risers to present merchandise
    2. Colour – contrast colours of products to create irresistible displays
    3. Containers & Props – mound products in attractive baskets and bins

    With these display techniques, you can tempt your shoppers to leave your shop with more than just one item in hand.

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    How Displays Can Increase Sales: The Strawberry Shortcake Factor

    Imagine someone offered you some fresh, ripe strawberries to eat. They look pretty tempting. Would you have some? You might say yes. You might say no.

    What if you were offered shortcake and whipped cream with the strawberries?
    Now the temptation factor goes up. It’s not just strawberries, but strawberry shortcake. And you have more choices. You have more ways you can say yes.

    You can say yes to the strawberry shortcake topped with whipped cream.
    You can say yes to the strawberries and whipped cream.
    You can say yes to cake and strawberries.
    You can say yes to cake and whipped cream.
    You can say yes to strawberries.

    Most people will say yes to one of those options.

    What does strawberry shortcake have to do with displays?
    When you put a product on display, customers will choose yes, or no. When you add the strawberry shortcake factor, you increase the opportunities to say yes.

    In display lingo, this is often referred to as cross merchandising. Cross merchandising is taking related products from different categories, or departments, and displaying them together. This technique increases sales by showing customers what products work well together. Instead of buying just one item, shoppers often buy more than one.

    You can use this technique in your store. Add the strawberry shortcake factor to your display by adding products that compliment each other.

    A pet store has a new line of dog shampoo to promote. The display idea starts with the shampoo. Add the shortcake factor by imagining a situation where a customer would use the shampoo. What are all the supplies someone might use to give a dog a bath?

    • dog shampoo
    • towel
    • hair dryer
    • brush
    • other grooming accessories

    Now you have a group of products that create a strong theme for a display. Shoppers immediately associate the display with bath time. They might even imagine themselves giving their dog a bath.

    Some will realize they need shampoo, and buy it. Other customers might already have shampoo. But they might want to have a special dog hair dryer. Or a new brush. Or both.

    The display offers these shoppers more ways to say yes.

    The secret of the strawberry shortcake factor
    The shortcake factor is not the same as a jumble of unrelated merchandise. The secret of the shortcake factor is to display items that share a connection.

    When shoppers see the display, they should be able to imagine how the products go together. When they see cake, strawberries and whipped cream, they can imagine strawberry shortcake. When pet owners see dog shampoo, a towel and brush, they can imagine bath time.

    When shoppers imagine the products together, and imagine themselves using them, they are more likely to buy.

    So, what are you going to put in your next display?

    Use the strawberry shortcake factor

    Give your customers more ways to say ‘yes’ to what you have to offer.

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    How to Choose a Powerful Display Location

    The first day of middle school.
    New school. New teacher. New classmates.

    It’s a minefield of trials. Like how to pick the right location for your desk. You don’t want to get it wrong like I did. I thought I’d picked the right seat. Not too far back. Not too close to the teacher. And the boy who sat down next to me seemed OK. At first.

    His name was Ross. He never seemed to have any school supplies. No pencils. No pencil crayons. No erasers. After he started borrowing mine, it became clear. He chewed up pencils and erasers. Until they were gone.

    I was horrified! After losing a few shiny new supplies, I learned my lesson. I spent the rest of the year anxiously protecting my pencils and checking them for teeth marks.

    You can be sure I was more careful about my desk location choice the next fall! It’s a critical decision that can affect your entire year.

    Like choosing the right desk location, choosing the right display location is crucial. The wrong choice means that instead of losing pencils, you can lose potential sales.

    How do you pick the right location for displays?

    A display has an important role in the store. It needs to attract attention, convey a message and maintain interest. A display can only do those things if it is in a key location in the store. The display needs to be in a place where it can get attention. It’s not going to get attention off in a corner.

    There are two key components of a good display location. It has to have high traffic, and high visibility. That means each major display needs to be in a place where all customers are going to see it.

    What are some examples of high traffic and high visibility locations?
    You will have displays throughout the store. Right now we’re just going to discuss three key display locations. Besides store windows, these locations have the most shoppers passing by.

    Three key locations for displays include:
    1) Entrance
    2) Ends of aisles
    3) Cash desk

    1) Entrance
    Just inside the store is a prime location for displays. Be sure to leave space for the customer to walk in and look around. Don’t put a display smack in front of the door. A few feet inside, or off to the right hand side are great spots. These are feature locations that shoppers may see from outside, or as soon as they enter.

    A display just inside the door is a great place to feature new products or seasonal items. As you lead shoppers into the store, there are more opportunities to feature merchandise.

    2) Ends of aisles

    The end display on an aisle is often referred to as an end cap. These are highly visible, and attract the shoppers’ attention. The end of the aisle usually faces onto a main traffic area.

    Most large grocery stores are examples of effective displays on the ends of the aisles. These end caps tend to feature seasonal promotions, sales or new products. Sometimes the retailer has just decided to feature a particular product.

    The end caps often have a large quantity of only 2 or 3 products. Repetition of the same product on several shelves creates a strong visual impact, attracting shoppers’ attention.

    Feature displays are also useful at the end of the in-store buying experience.

    3) Cash desk

    The cash desk provides a great opportunity for add on sales. All the buying customers go to the cash desk. They stand and wait. While they wait, customers look at everything in the area. Shoppers have already made a decision to buy, and are standing with payment in hand. These shoppers are the most likely to buy more.

    The cash area is where you need to be very careful. This is the location that is most likely to be filled with too many messages, mixed together without a plan. Instead of crowding the desk with too many competing impulse items, plan counter displays carefully and rotate them regularly.

    For an example of effective cash desk display, visit a Starbucks. Starbucks is merchandised masterfully. Many products, from sandwiches and drinks, to gift cards and mints, are presented in that small space around the cash registers. The planned, organized presentation keeps the display from being overwhelming and chaotic.

    Location is critical
    Displays help drive sales. But only if they are in the right location. If you do not have displays in these three key areas, you are losing potential sales. These locations are prime selling zones in your store. It is up to you to make the most of them.

    The best locations in the store have two things in common: high traffic and high visibility. The three key locations that have these two qualities are the entrance, the ends of aisles and the cash desk.

    Placing key displays in these three locations is even more critical than picking the right desk when you were in school. You won’t have any regrets about choosing these locations for displays.

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    Shoestring Merchandising Tips for Retail Store Display

    Quick tips to improve your store:

    • Upgrade lighting whenever you can. Retail store windows especially need to be well lit. There are some great little halogen spotlights out there that are inexpensive and easy to install. They are terrific for highlighting display areas. Just make sure they are installed safely and the cords are unobtrusive.

    • An inexpensive can of paint can be used to paint your fixtures to match, or touch up chips and keep things looking new.

    • Fabric and paper are two valuable display helpers. Use them under or behind a display to provide a backdrop, use a scarf to add colour and movement to a static arrangement. To avoid a busy look, stick to a few colours and textures that complement your store design and merchandise.

    • Use magazines as a source of ideas for displays. Find time to go to the library so you can browse for free. Look at do-it-yourself magazines for hardware, home decor magazines for giftware and housewares, etc. The full page ads, feature stories and new product listings are helpful.

    • Take a seminar or spend a couple of hours with a retail consultant to learn some display and merchandising techniques.

    • Pretend you are a customer and take a look at your storefront. Try to see the store as the customer would see it. What do you notice? Take photos to get a different perspective. Often you’ll see things you didn’t notice before.

    • Sit down and make a list of adjectives that describe the image you want to achieve for your store. Before you make merchandising plans, check your list to stay focussed. A great idea in another store won’t necessarily fit your image.

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    Create Retail Displays That Attract Customers

    Retail is a competitive business. Even if your product is completely unique, you still have competition. There is always another store down the street – or in the next cyber-mall – that is aiming for your customers’ wallet. Customers have a limited amount of disposable income, but their choices of where to spend it are infinite.

    While there are many aspects involved in marketing and gaining customer loyalty, one of the most important is your visual presentation.

    • Does your merchandise display attract and interest the customer?
    • Or does it overwhelm and confuse the viewer?
    • Is the display simply bland and unremarkable?

    Here are some tips to help you create displays that will get the customers’ attention:

    1. Create a focal point

    An overwhelming display or a boring one can both have the same problem – a lack of focal point.

    • Where do you want your viewer to look?
    • Is there one main feature you want them to notice?
    • Where will the eye travel through the display? Don’t leave this to chance. Plan what the customer should do when they see the display. Perhaps a new product is the main focal point, with complimentary items placed in close proximity to encourage multiple sales.

    Many window and table displays are too low. The focal point should be at eye level to most viewers. Visitors will not work to get a good look at your display, they will simply walk on by without noticing.

    2. Use line and shape to plan your design

    Don’t just put your products together willy-nilly. Practice drawing a quick layout to help you visualize the plan for your design.

    • Will your layout be horizontal or vertical?
    • Will the products be arranged in straight or curved lines, in a pyramid or circular shape?
    • Will the design combine a variety of elements, or just one?

    To experiment with this, draw rectangle that is roughly the same shape as your display space. Sketch geometric shapes such as squares, rectangles, circles, semi-circles and triangles in various combinations to get a sense of an appealing layout. For instance, a large triangle could represent an arrangement of gift ware. A long vertical rectangle to the left of the triangle would represents signage placement.

    3. Create balance

    Strong displays have visual balance. Dark colors appear heavier than light ones. Large objects appear heavier than small ones. This seems straightforward, but you need to think about this as you plan your display.

    Generally larger, darker items would be placed near the bottom of a display, with lighter items at the top to avoid appearing top heavy. Placing too many items, or heavy looking items on one side appears unbalanced. A grouping of many items on one side of the display can be balanced by one heavy item in just the right place on the other side. Think of weights on an old fashioned scale to get an idea of how this works.

    Does balance matter?

    We all respond emotionally to visual stimuli. Creating a display is about creating a mood and a desire within the consumer. A lack of balance creates an impression of instability and anxiousness. The consumer is not even aware of the feeling, he or she simply searches out an environment or merchandise presentation that gives them a positive feeling and creates an appealing mood.

    4. Keep it simple

    Don’t try to do too much. The goal is to attract attention to the product. On a slat wall, often simple rows are the best way to show the merchandise. Too often I have seen displays where every row or shelf has a different arrangement.

    Your goal is to make it easy for the customer to find what they are looking for and to make sense of your product arrangement. Keep your groupings logical by grouping similar products together, with complimentary products nearby.

    5. Use proper lighting

    Lighting is overlooked far too often. When budgeting for store fixtures and merchandising, display lighting is not an ‘extra’. Lighting your displays properly can make the difference between a display that makes people yawn, or makes them stop and look.

    Displays should not be lit directly from the top, or you will get unattractive shadows. Lights should be slightly off to the side, and to the front of the display. They should enhance the 3-dimensional quality of the product. Preferably the display will be lit from more than one angle. Lighting should be adjusted every time you change your display.

    If you don’t have positionable lights in your key display areas, especially windows, get some as soon as possible. A good lighting store will have some for a reasonable cost and can give you advice on installing and using them.

    6. Look at the display from all angles

    After you have completed your display, step back and look at it. Very few people will see it standing directly in front of it. Most displays are approached from the side and seen from an angle.

    Approach your display from all possible angles and view it as a customer would.

    • Is your focal point still placed appropriately?
    • Do you need to angle the display to the customers viewpoint?
    • Is the signage visible and readable?
    • Does the arrangement still appear balanced?

    Observe the direction from which most customers approach the display. Make sure that the best view of the display is the one that most of the customers will see.

    Putting these six tips into practice will help you create dynamic displays that attract customers.

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