Bringing Products to Life: A Guide to Becoming a Visual Merchandiser

How do you sell $100 soap?

It may sound ludicrous, but when customers shop at Aesop, they willingly part with hundreds for bath and body products.

Part of it has to do with Aesop’s stellar visual merchandiser setup.

If you are having a hard time with conversion rates or attracting people to your stores, you should be upping your visual merchandising game.

Keep reading to learn how.

What is Visual Merchandising

The visual merchandiser is a professional at optimizing a business’s storefront to increase customer conversion.

The storefront includes the displays, the ambiance, the architectural layout, and more.

The best brands tell a story with their storefronts. Let’s take Aesop for example.

Before Aesop sets up a physical store, they scope out the surrounding community. Does the community’s vibe align with the company’s design principles and central message? What kind of people live in the surrounding community?

If the people in the neighborhood don’t appreciate design-centered lifestyles and luxurious products, chances are they won’t be frequenting the store.

Aesop’s Chelsea store in New York features tons of Paris Review magazines on display. Their store in Tokyo uses reclaimed materials from a nearby demolished building.

Their store itself tells a localized story that its community’s residents would likely appreciate and resonate with; this is creative visual merchandising at its finest.

The How-To

It all boils down to this. What kind of story are you trying to tell with your visual merchandising displays?

Let’s say you’re selling a story to customers about taking the time to unwind with delicious baked goods. You’ll want a typical 3 tier display table for your window, but maybe you’ll also want to play calm classical music throughout your store.

Maybe you choose a reclaimed Victorian house as your storefront; customers will immediately be able to envision themselves eating your baked goods and drinking tea in the charming house.

It’s all about the kind of story you’re trying to tell. Everything should be on theme.

Let’s think about some other themes:

  • Starbucks coffee shops have an ambiance that invites you to treat the store as a “third place” to settle down
  • Hollister uses perfume, models, and murals to communicate what they want their clientele to look like, or want to look like
  • Apple stores look minimalist just like their products

Breaking Into the Field

What should go on your visual merchandiser resume?

First off, a business or design-related degree should lend your portfolio credibility.

These are some possible degrees:

  • Fashion merchandising
  • Retail management
  • Visual communications
  • Marketing
  • Business

The most important thing a visual merchandiser should have is a stellar portfolio. This should show off any designs they created and their demonstrable impact on the business’s success.

Investing in a Visual Merchandiser

If your business is not finding success through physical retail, your next step is to invest in a visual merchandiser.

You can either study visual merchandising yourself or hire someone to create designs for you.

Visual merchandising is a meaningful component of running a successful store and maintaining brand cohesiveness.

For more ideas, check out our business section.