The World's Largest Resource for the Cart, Kiosk, and Temporary Retail Industry

Spring 2007 Insider Secrets to Dazzling Displays

What’s the difference between a perfectly fine product display and an eye-popping showcase that compels the shopper’s attention? In a word: focus.

In the competitive retail environment, you only have a couple of seconds to get your product’s “message” across, capture your customer’s attention and draw them to your cart or kiosk. The only way to do that—no matter what the product (or service)—is to present a consistent, focused theme that makes your product shine.

Developing a theme that works to sell your product isn’t difficult, but it is a process that takes time, attention to detail, brainstorming and, of course, great execution. Visual merchandising pros go through this process every day. Here’s an inside look at how we approach developing a theme or concept for a cart or kiosk that’s designed to stop shoppers in their tracks.

Start with a visuals meeting.

With all of the details to tend to with a specialty retail business, it’s easy to give short shrift to your visual merchandising plan, but trust us: It’s easy to spot displays that were haphazardly created. Take the time for a “visuals meeting” to work through your approach, so your final display will work for you.

Normally we visual merchandisers include both the retailer and the leasing manager in the visuals meeting. If you are not working with a visual merchandiser, make sure you review your display plan with your leasing manager prior to opening day, to make sure you’re within mall rules and regulations (better safe than sorry).

Bring as many product photos and samples to the meeting as possible, along with the percentage of space you want each product to take up in the merchandise mix. Not only does seeing each product’s size, weight and color help determine how it will be merchandised, but seeing all the products together in one spot is a good way to see how they will work together on the cart or kiosk.

Brainstorm your image.

Think about the image you want to convey. Focus on these key questions:

  • Who is your target customer?
  • What makes that customer want to buy your product or service?
  • What is the primary feeling you want to convey to those customers?
  • What words would you use to describe your product?
  • Are there specific colors associated with your product?
  • What are the dominant colors in the product’s packaging?
  • Do your price points suggest certain images of luxury—or value—that you want to emphasize?

Think space.

When it comes to the actual display, how will the various elements fit together on the cart or kiosk? Ask yourself:

  • Does the product packaging dictate if the product is to be hung or shelved?
  • Will there be a lot of smaller items on display, or mostly larger items?
  • Will there be a need to display a lot of the same product?
  • What fixtures are available to incorporate into the display?
  • Is there special equipment that needs accommodating (a video monitor or an embroidery machine, for example)?

Add color.

Color is the single most important element for conveying an image and attracting attention to your location. Color can do a lot to advance the theme of your presentation and unify your overall display.

You can often pull a color from your brand logo or packaging to enhance your brand identification (think T-Mobile pink). If you do not have a consistent product or package color from which to draw, are there colors your customers associate with your product, or general colors that appeal to your target audience (perhaps pastels for a female audience, or deep blues for men)? What colors do the large retailers (with their in-house visual merchandising teams) use when selling a similar line?

Use shelf and case pads.

imageNot only do pads help to protect shelves and cases, but they can also be covered with fabric or vinyl to inject color into the display. Foamboard-covered pads can be used to add color to post uprights, showcase backs, risers, etc. Consider using a contrasting color from the product packaging on your pads to create the most pop. Check out the Rosetta Stone photo for a great example of using a packaging color on case pads and backs to unify a display and attract attention.

Use props.

Some retailers see props as a waste of precious merchandising space, but they forget that the main purpose of the prop is to convey a feeling or idea about the product that will ultimately drive sales. Customers don’t buy products, but rather the feeling or lifestyle that the product represents. A strategically placed prop is often the best way to convey a feeling or reinforce the elements of a certain lifestyle. Check out the Kool Shades photo that integrates a surfboard to sell the Kool Shades lifestyle. Plus, notice how the prop is positioned in otherwise dead space, so it doesn’t take up any valuable merchandising space.

Props can also serve as risers or merchandising fixtures for your product. Wicker trunks and baskets are great risers and merchandisers for exotic imported goods. Natural wooden crates work well for merchandising natural candles or body products.

imageRemember, a prop doesn’t always have to come from a display catalogue and cost a ton of money. Everyday items can be used—and modified in countless ways—to create dramatic effects. Sometimes with just a little creative thinking and a touch of spray paint, great things can happen!

Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box—that is, the product packaging. Just because a product is packaged in a particular way doesn’t mean it has to be displayed that way all the time. A T-shirt can be displayed rolled-up, folded, hung or stretched over a pad. Christmas ornaments, which would seem a natural item to hang, might look more appealing when displayed in big ceramic bowls or baskets.

Experiment. Be creative. Brainstorm several options, then pick the one that really works to sell your product to its target audience. With a little time and effort invested in your display up front, you’ll create a dazzling display that works for you as hard as you work to grow your business.

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