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The Art & Science of Shelf Displays

The only thing worse than walking into a store and not being able to find what you're looking for, is to walk into a store and find a complete mess.

Shelving is the most important factor in keeping your store neat and orderly. Not enough shelving space creates overcrowding and makes things difficult to find, while too much shelving can lead to wasted space. It is very important to have the right amount of shelving space for the amount of product you have. Do not place pottery on the floor because you are out of shelf space.

Marketing research shows the majority of people turn to the right when entering a store - use this to your advantage. Higher priced items can be placed to the right with lower priced items to the left. Or if you have an overabundance of an item you are trying to get rid of, set up a display on the right side of the store.

Marketing research also shows that people tend to look more at eye level than up above or down below. High top shelves and low bottom shelves can be used to neatly organize overstock. Keep your main product supply where the customer can easily see it. Also, you can increase your average ticket sale by placing your more expensive pottery at eye level.

Shelving Basics:ProductDisplay

  1. Shelves should not be empty.
  2. Shelves should not be over crowded.
  3. Shelves should not be broken in any way - this is a safety hazard and you would be liable for any accidents or damages.
  4. Shelves should be at equal heights, although they may be staggered to create a different look. Don't put shelves to close on top of one another to make removing and placing pottery difficult.

You can create pretty displays on your shelves by the way you arrange the product, be creative! Show how items can go together by putting them together. Use tissue paper, ribbon, confetti and other items to decorate the shelves giving them a more appealing look.

Use decorations in your shelving displays that go along with the seasons of the year, holidays or other events related to the area you live in. For example, at homecoming, use the local high school colors to decorate.

The most important rule to remember when creating shelf displays is to use your space wisely - don't leave too much empty space and don't overcrowd. Use your best judgment. What looks good to you will probably look appealing to others as well.

Creating an attractive product display can draw the customer in, promote a slow-moving item, announce a sale, or welcome a season. If your store front is fortunate enough to feature one or more windows, then you have one of the most proven (and least expensive) forms of advertising at your disposal.

Some stores located in a mall or other structure may lack windows, but don't despair. There are many places throughout the store to build beautiful displays. Take a look at the flow of traffic in your store. Are there any areas that are a focal point for customers?

Your local community may have individuals or visual merchandising companies you can hire to dress your windows, but if you're concerned with saving money, the following tips will help you create an attractive display.

Visual Display Tool Box

Before designing a product display, put together a visual display tool box to keep on hand. By having all of these items in one location it will save time in actually preparing the display.

  • Scissors, Stapler, Two-Sided Tape, Pins
  • Hot glue sticks and glue gun
  • Monofilament Fishing Line
  • Tape Measure
  • Razor Blade/Utility Knife
  • Hammer, Nails, Screwdriver, Screws
  • Notepad, Pencil, Marker
  • Signage, Sign Holders
  • Glass Cleaner/Paper Towels
  • Props (Non-merchandise Items)

Take time to plan the display. Consider what you want to accomplish, develop a budget and determine a central theme. You may even want to sketch your display on paper. Gather your visual display tool box, the merchandise and any props. Make sure all materials and location (tables, windows, racks) are clean. Choose a slow time of the day or build the display after hours.

Elements of Effective Visual Merchandising

  • Balance: Asymmetrical rather than symmetrical balance with the display.
  • Size of Objects: Place the largest object into display first.
  • Color: Helps set mood and feelings.
  • Focal Point: Where product and props/signage and background come together.
  • Lighting: Should accent focal point, if possible.
  • Unity: A bunch of things sitting in a window is just a bunch of things, not a display.
  • Simplicity: Less is more so know when to stop and don't add too many items.

Once the display is finished, add appropriate signage. Take photos of the display and keep record of the product sales during the display's existence. Save your information in a file folder for easy reference. By documenting its success, you can re-create the display next year or if it flops, you can make sure you don't repeat the same mistakes.

Like any other aspect of retailing, creating an attractive display takes a little skill and lots of trial and error. As your store changes, so will your opportunities for visual displays. Keep working at designing eye-catching and innovative ways to make your retail store profitable through visual merchandising.

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