By Frida Cooper

Eyes are our windows to the world. Humans are basically visual creatures, so what we see influences us the most, with the other senses playing secondary roles. In the retail business, interaction with customers is direct, so the visual aspect assumes a lot of importance.

What is Visual Merchandising?

Visual merchandising in retail is a confluence of different elements. When they are designed well, their overall appeal can mean more business for the store. The store design, layout, display of merchandise, cleanliness and illumination in the store, all play an important part in creating a great ambience that pulls in customers and compels them to buy.

The Basic Elements of Visual Merchandising in Retail

While a lot of factors are involved in creating the visual appeal of a store and the products it sells, there are some fundamentals that need the primary focus.


Your choice of colors can make your shop more attractive or less appealing. Bold colors like red, orange, etc., can help attract customers. Inside the shop, you can use more subdued colors like blue, green etc. to impart a sense of calmness and trust.


Studies have shown that dark interiors and dim lighting increase stress levels in customers and compels them to leave the premises quickly. The interior lighting should ensure that there are no dark spaces and all your wares are clearly visible.


The layout and arrangements of the goods being sold is an extremely important factor. The shelves in different aisles should display related items and enable customers to easily find the products they want and add it to their shopping cart. If there is no logical arrangement of products, customers will not waste time in trying to locate the items they want, they will just leave.

Music and Scent

These are not visual elements, but they can be used to advantage to add to the ambience of the store. Colors, music, textures and scent can all come together to create a unique ambience for your shop. Cleanliness of the premises and merchandise has also been identified as another powerful influence in persuading customers to stay in the shop and make more purchases.

Other Aspects of Visual Merchandising

Besides focusing on the basic elements, you can also use other techniques to attract customers. The most obvious of these are your window displays, signage etc.:

Window Displays

Your window display can make a passerby halt in their tracks and make them enter the shop to make a purchase. Use the space available to the maximum effect. If you are selling clothes, display a trendy item in the window. If you have a large window space, create different segments. Showcase a new sweater that has an eye catching appeal. Another segment can display some attractive items that are on sale. Make space for some signs that announce special sales and promotional offers.


Display signs that guide customers to the different sections, use signs to highlight special offers. You can be creative in signage design, but use clear and legible fonts so that customers get the message quickly.

Themed Displays

If you are selling related products, you can create some themed displays for specific brands or for select items that you want to promote. For instance, you can create a display that showcases a full matched outfit from a specific brand – shirt, pants, wallet, tie and shoes.

Point of Sale (POS) Displays

When customers are waiting at the checkout, they can be enticed into making last minute impulse purchases through displays that showcase small items. Depending on what you sell, the displays could contain small notepads, pens, sticky notes, etc. or chewing gums, mints, chocolate bars, and similar items.

Other Techniques

Visual merchandising offers endless opportunities to fine tune the look and feel of the store. You are limited only by your imagination.

Furniture shops use the technique of displaying furniture’s as a set that suits a specific room. Living room furniture’s can be displayed as a set of couches, mats, and a coffee table. Beds and cots could be displayed in a neat arrangement along with a side table, a dressing table and so on.

Visual merchandising in retail is all about creating a theme and ambience that appeals to the sense of sight first. In-store shopping can be made more appealing even to younger customers if you plan your layout and displays well. In the current context of saturated markets and competition from online sellers, creating a unique visual theme and ambience for your shop can make it stand out and get noticed.

Photo credit: Window display from Itsra Sanprasert/Shutterstock