Creating Displays That Sell Product

One of the most powerful devices in the store-front landscape is the window display.

3603276 M

Shop-front windows have a long history of creating retail excitement in western culture. Some department stores even become embedded in local folklore for their magical  Christmas and Easter creations. Let’s look at four key objectives of effective merchandising for product sales success.

Walk along any high street shopping strip or retail mall and you will experience a wide variety of shop fronts competing for visual exposure. Brand names, window displays, sale signs and special offers are abundant: all carefully placed in the hope they will catch your eye and reel you in to explore a store’s range and buy its products.

Quality displays

Quality window displays can be the difference between a customer walking by or deciding to enter your store. A carefully crafted display can have the greatest impact in a shop-front window. Its objective is to ‘sell’ the product, and the principles of a successful display should not be applied only to shop fronts, but in fact any display area within a store environment.

All retailers recognise the value of a great display to attract customers and sell product. But not all have the knowledge, experience or resources to ‘wow’ the customer every time.

For independent retailers, displays can be perceived as a burden rather than an opportunity. They may not be able to afford a specialist merchandiser, and creating displays requires special skills and is a time-consuming task that is best left for another day – or another staff member. Yet with a little knowledge of the principles of retail merchandising, the process of creating an effective product display can be made a lot simpler for even the most pragmatic retailer.

Identify the key message

Whether the display you are creating is for a window, a wall area, a gondola end or an open floor area, the first task is to identify the key message your display will make. This message differentiates the product from its surroundings. Most messages differentiate in one of these ways:

  • Product brand (recognised names attract attention).
  • Product design, or style (unique colours and designs).
  • Promotion (free gift or special offer).
  • Specialisation (offering a unique solution to a specific
  • Event (such as Mother’s Day or a stocktake sale).
  • Price (lowest common denominator).
2017 04 03 1044

The message could be the latest fashion or technology, a special promotion, or low price, but it must be the primary reason that makes this offer irresistible and separates it from other products in your store.

Four key objectives

But having the message is just the beginning. A successful merchandising display should satisfy these four key objectives:

  • Stand out from the surroundings to grab the attention of the customer.
  • Inspire the imagination of the customer to see the product as a solution.
  • Organise the hierarchy of product options available.
  • Close the sale by explaining how to buy

Standing out is about grabbing attention. Your display can do this by making something about it different to the
surroundings, such as:

  • Location (front of store, end of aisle, or a unique fixture such as an antique table or pedestal).
  • Brightness (displays should receive 50-100 per cent stronger illumination than surroundings).
  • Colour (use a backdrop of a bright colour or pattern).
  • Shape (arrange products in a different alignment to surroundings – curved, angled, vertical, horizontal – use props)
  • Size (make it bigger, higher, or use a bulk-stack). It is all about making the display visually striking to catch the customers’ eye and encourage them to look closer.

Merchandising inspiration is about engaging the customer to imagine the product as a solution to a problem. This is where your key message should shine. Most often this is done with an accompanying poster or graphic image, but it can be just an attractive display of the product fully assembled in simulated use, or a demonstration device such as a video screen showing how to use it. The important word here is imagination – the customer should be able to understand the key message and clearly imagine how the product can benefit them.

Organisation of the product sizes, colours, variations, and options available is the next step in the selling process of an effective display. Being presented with a hierarchy of choice within the product range, customers who are sold on the idea of a solution can now begin to customise the solution to their specific needs. For example, the product may come in different sizes, colours, or types. Your display should clearly show any differences between product options and how they relate to each other. This will help customers understand exactly what they are buying and what else goes with it.

Closing the sale is about overcoming the customer’s final barriers to purchase. For example, “What does the product feel like?” and “Can I pick it up and try it?” are questions that can be answered with easily accessible demonstration samples on display. “How much is it?” and “Is there a special offer?” are questions that clear pricing and promotional signage will answer. The issue of “Where do I find my size/colour/style?” will be avoided with a clearly organised and well stocked display.

All the good work of grabbing attention, inspiring the mind and explaining the options can be quickly lost if the right size cannot be found or the price is not clear. An effective display must be kept tidy and organised to make it easy for customers to buy.