For many years, businesses have tried to sell their products to buyers with limited merchandise options. It did not matter how the merchandise was displayed, how the store looked, or whether the sellers were polite. Just having merchandise available very often guaranteed a sale. Not any more though.
Nowadays with an increase in the number of manufacturers and retailers, a buyer has many options available in terms of style, functionality and price points. In a market where buyers are now controlling the demand-supply chain, it has become an exercise for sellers to entice the audience via the art and science of Visual Merchandising (VM) and retail designing. It is the science and psychology of the retail and fashion world. VM involves the techniques to draw shoppers into a store and keep them there. It includes understanding buying habits and affects what you see — and how you see it. Three-dimensional displays, the use of colour and accessories and the placement of the season’s merchandise for maximum impact fall under the domain of VM.
VM starts with the merchandise itself and not with the decoration. The main issue is to make the merchandise extremely attractive, exciting and enticing, stimulating the buyer’s appetite and finally resulting in the decision to buy. Effective visual merchandising can directly affect the bottom line of any retailer by:
1. Maximising walk-ins
2. Increasing sales conversion
3. Increasing average customer billing amount
4. Insuring higher recall value in the mind of the consumer and hence creating a loyal and everexpanding base of customers.
Here are four display basics to be considered for designing a visual presentation:
1. Colour and texture
2. Line and composition
3. Lights and lighting
4. Types of display and display settings
Colour is the biggest motivation for shopping. People buy colour before they buy size, fit or price. People also react to the colours around the merchandise being considered. Colours are often selected for the amount of contrast they provide. The Colour Marketing Group (CMG) consists of colour specialists from most industries for which colour is a major factor in what is manufactured. The group serves as a guide, forecasts directions and indicated colour trends well enough in advance so that the information can be integrated into design and production schedules.
Line is a direction. It is the second most important element after colour in creating a response to the merchandise in display. It is known that each line suggests something else and as letters are combined to form words, lines are arranged to make selling ‘pictures’.
A straight line can be direct and forceful or rigid and precise. Long, low, wide, spreading lines suggest an easy going, restful quality. The diagonal line is the line of action; it is forceful, strong, and dynamic.
Effective lighting can grab instant attention and facilitate the creation of that favourable first impression of the merchandise and its surroundings. Just as colour creates the emotional connection with the customer, light reinforces this emotional connection by bringing the desired colours to life. When manipulated rightly, light creates the desired emotion like the feeling of warmth, of clarity, of curiosity, of wonder, mystery and even amazement. Good lighting can guide the customers' eyes; reveal the colour and form of the merchandise.
Types of display
The primary purposes of displays are to present and promote. A display is at its best when it simply shows a colour, an item, a collection or just an idea. Displays can be of the following four types:
One-item display: The showing and advancement of a single garment or any single item. It might be a gown designed by a top designer, a one of a kind ceramic or jewellery or a new automobile.
Line-of-goods display: Shows only one type of merchandise e.g. all skirts, all pants, all chairs; although they maybe in a variety of designs or colours.
Related merchandise display: Separates, accessories or other items that go together may be displayed as they are meant to be together because either they are the same colour or they share an idea or a theme.
Variety or assortment display: It is a mix of anything and everything. It is a collection of unrelated items that happen to be sold in the same store.
In the presentation of a display, there are some basic steps to set the scene for the merchandise or the concept to be sold. These display settings largely influence your perception and relation to the product and the brand displayed. They therefore directly influence the pricing and consequently the profitability of the product being sold. For example, similar products when displayed in large numbers diminish exclusivity and when displayed in lesser number increase the exclusivity and therefore the perceived value of the product. Hence, in the domain of display settings, less could mean more.
For a visual merchandiser the challenge is to make the retail space highly customer friendly so that a client can spend maximum time in the given retail space, likely making a wise buying decision. In order to achieve these standards, the visual merchandiser has to look very deeply into the psychology of the customers as well as the walkers-by. Research on how customers move through a store and what they see, shows that there are certain hot spots and locations in a shop that catch the customer’s eye first. Putting up communications will help stimulate purchases, especially impulse sales. As I see, VM is perched on this fine line between art and science. It demands the rigors and method of science and the inspired imagination of art. Both of these combined and when in harmony, give it the power to change our lives by changing what we buy, where we buy and why we buy.
Still in it is infancy in India; visual merchandising is set to grow with the rapidly changing retail scenario. As more and more brands come into the country, the fight for the consumer’s mind-space is going to be like never before. Eventually, it is the visual merchandiser who is going to help win this battle for the consumer’s wallet. As brands learn to add value through product differentiation and thrive to give customers the perfect shopping experience, VM in India too, shall have its due.
The author is the Chief Designer at Transform Design, New Delhi. He can be contacted at email@example.com
The electronics retail industry in India is a fast growing sector, and Lotus Electronics has emerged as a beacon of innovation and customer-centric excellence in Central India. The brand, with its 20 stores spread across key cities in Central India – Indore, Bhopal, Raipur, Jabalpur, Bilaspur, Ujjain and Raipur, and a robust online presence, holds the title of the largest electronics retail store chain in the region.
Gaurav Pahwa, Director, Lotus Electronics shared his insights with Indian Retailer about the brand's journey, strategies, and expansion plans.
According to him, the success was attributed to a wide range of electronics from both national and international brands, all offered at highly competitive rates. This commitment has solidified Lotus Electronics' position as the largest one-stop omnichannel store for consumer electronics, IT products, mobiles, and home appliances.
The brand prides itself on offering an extensive array of world-renowned brands, including Apple, Sony, Samsung, Haier, Bose, JBL, and many more, all under one roof. “It is a three families’ business, a partnership business to be precise, which got we began in 2000. The average showroom area spans 10,000 – 15,000 sq ft, and today we cover more than 2,50,000 sq ft of display area across Central India. This vast offline presence is complemented by strategically located warehouses in the eight cities,” elaborated Gaurav.
Consumer-Centric Philosophy: The 6Cs
It is the brand’s 6C philosophy for customers – comfort, convenience, choice, competitive rates, care and commitment – that makes it stand out from the other retailers. With a dedicated staff strength of 600+ members and over 200 company demonstrators, Lotus Electronics ensures a customer-centric approach that makes the shopping experience truly memorable. This philosophy extends seamlessly to the online portal.
Founded in 2000, Lotus Electronics has been a game-changer in the electronics and home appliances market. Pioneering the concept of offering a variety of electronic brands and products under one roof, the brand has evolved beyond being just an electronics showroom. It focuses on the entire experience of electronics shopping, embodying innovation and consumer satisfaction.
Gaurav revealed that the brand, with a turnover of Rs 650 crore, has targeted Rs 750 crore by this March. According to him, the significance of technology in retail expansion, particularly in adapting to changing consumer preferences, was what made them succeed.
Future Endeavors: Hyper-Local Expansion
Looking ahead, Gaurav envisions Lotus Electronics as a hyper-local store, focusing on both physical and online presence. The brand aims to strike a balance between the immersive experience offered in offline stores and the convenience of online shopping. While expanding into new markets, the brand remains committed to being number one in every geography that it operates in. “One of our major focus is that whenever we go to a newer market, we adapt to its flavor immediately. Starting from the communication, which happens in local language. The team that heads the store on ground and the managerial level, can all speak the language flawlessly,” he said.
To grow exponentially, Gaurav is actively exploring innovations such as using tablets for product demonstrations, ensuring that consumers can make informed decisions right at the store. The brand is gearing up to open five new stores in a new state. The details will be revealed soon. Stay tuned for more.
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