How to Merchandise in the Digital Age

Visual merchandising is an important consideration for any business that sells products. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a specialist retail business in a shopping mall or a gift shop in a hotel, the way the products are presented to potential customers will affect the way they are perceived. Effective visual merchandising is essential for maximizing customer engagement and boosting your sales.Merchandise in the Digital Age

Whether in the online space or on the shop floor, visual marketing has never been more important. All of us have experience buying products online, so we already have some kind of instinctive idea of what good visual merchandising looks like. At some point or another, we’ve all seen an awful product photo that manages to make a product look completely unappealing.

Good visual marketing will do the opposite; it will make a product look like something that you will want to own. Let’s take a look at how to merchandise effectively across online and offline spaces.

Model Merchandising

In most situations, a model is preferable to a mannequin. It might cost you a little bit more to hire a model, of course, but you will make this money back in sales. You might even have staff who can model your stuff for you, as long as they are willing to do so, of course. When people visit an online store, they want product photos that will give them the most accurate representation of what the product will be like.

Seeing the product actually being used or worn by a person makes it easy to ascertain exactly how big it is and what it’s like in comparison to a person. This is much more useful than seeing the product against a mannequin. Mannequins that only feature torsos or heads don’t give the viewer much of a reference point, and it’s hard to work out how big the mannequin is. When you can see the entire body of a model, you can see all the relative proportions.

In store, mannequins obviously make more sense. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t incorporate models into your marketing.

Embrace Digital

Customers are now used to retail stores using more creative means of visually merchandising products. Some stores have even embraced electronics and smart devices to produce digital merchandising displays. With technologies like geofencing, we are moving closer to a world where augmented reality marketing is the norm. Getting in on opportunities to combine the digital and real worlds now will put you ahead of the curve.

If you are going to go with digital displays in your store, you need a way of updating them regularly. Coordinating this centrally is the best way, but requires you to have the appropriate systems in place to manage it. For this, we recommend Foko Retail. You can click here to find out more about their visual merchandising software. It utilizes a smart social media style interface that will be intuitive, especially to younger employees. Anyone who has used a social media account should find Foko easy to get into.

Going the Extra Mile

While embracing digital is important, if you also have a physical retail space to consider, you should still work to make your displays stand out. Let’s say that you own a clothing store – how can you display your clothing in the most appealing way possible? No matter how good the clothes you sell, simply putting them on hangers isn’t enough anymore. Customers expect to see displays with a bit more effort put into them.

Touchscreen terminals and tablets that contain digital catalogs of your full inventory aren’t cheap, but they are a realistic purchase for many small and medium sized businesses. You can use these terminals to gather data about which clothes your customers search for most frequently, and therefore which ones are worth going the extra mile to display prominently.

On the other hand, if you are operating a hotel gift shop and selling local goods and produce to customers, think of ways that you can display information about the products you’re selling as well as the products themselves. Many people will be willing to pay a premium price for a product that has been produced locally.

Use Social Media

In the digital age, your store will have two storefronts – the storefront of your physical retail space, and the digital storefront that you present to visitors to your website and social media pages. You need to tend to both of these equally well. Remember, a lot of people who visit your physical retail stores will also visit your website, often while still in the store.

You need to always be thinking about how you are presenting yourself and your products to your customers. If a customer visits your website after visiting your store, a poor layout can put them off making a purchase. This is especially true with your millennial customers, who will not differentiate between your online and offline presences. To them, every interaction they have with your business is a reflection on you, whether in the online or offline world.

Social media is one of the most important arenas for you in terms of customer interaction. If you play your cards right on social media, it can massively increase the earning potential of your entire business. Use social media to show off your newest and best products to your customers, but don’t just sell stuff to them. If all you are using your social media page for is to essentially ask your followers to hand over money to you, they will soon lose interest.

On the other hand, if you are smart, funny and engaging on your social media pages, your followers will keep coming back for more. You want them to be paying attention when you make big announcements, so more interaction is always good.

Merchandising the right way will give your sales a huge boost. But despite the importance of merchandising, many businesses still aren’t adapting their practices to account for the digital nature of modern retail. The more successfully you can blur the lines between the online and offline spaces, the more effectively you will be able to visually merchandise.