Clientbook Blog
November 13, 2023

The beginner's guide to visual merchandising

Our eyes are naturally drawn to things that are beautiful, interesting, and eye-catching. This applies to nearly everything, including retail spaces. When you've got a physical store that incorporates visual elements, you're guaranteed to draw more customers into your space and as a result, make more retail sales.  

According to Intelligence Node, in retail, visuals increase message retention by 42%. This means that when you can catch the eye of your shoppers, you're much more likely to get your marketing message across to them.

For retailers, especially beginners, mastering the art of visual merchandising can be a game-changer. In this article, we'll delve into the fundamentals of visual merchandising, offering practical tips to get you started on the path to creating a compelling customer experience that will keep shoppers coming back for more.

What is visual merchandising?

Visual merchandising is the practice of designing and arranging a retail store or physical space to create an aesthetically pleasing and engaging environment for target customers. This will look different based on what products you’re selling, the season, and what your goals are. 

For example, a jeweler might focus on displaying their engagement rings front and center during the spring and summer months when the wedding season is in full swing. Or, a fashion boutique may choose to keep their clearance rack with last season’s pieces toward the back of the store, drawing more attention toward the newer, in-season items.  

Why is visual merchandising important?

The primary goal of visual merchandising is to attract and captivate ideal customers, ultimately encouraging them to make purchases. Visual merchandising utilizes a combination of design elements, layout, decoration, and product positioning to make the overall shopping experience an exciting one and promote relevant products effectively. 

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10 steps to begin visual merchandising

Visual merchandising encompasses the art of presenting products in a way that tells a compelling story, captures customer attention, and conveys a brand's identity. There are so many ways to do this, and we've compiled a short list of visual merchandising tips to begin with.

1. Understanding the basics

Before diving into the specifics, let’s first go over a few  fundamental concepts:

Store layout: The arrangement of aisles, shelving, and visual displays should be strategically planned to guide customers through the store and maximize exposure to key features and products.

Traffic flow: Understanding how customers move through your store is crucial. Place popular items and promotions along the main traffic paths to ensure they get noticed.

Signage: Effective signage can convey information about products and promotions, as well as reinforce your brand's identity.

2. Create a strong theme

Consistency is key in visual displays. Decide on a theme or concept that reflects your brand's identity and resonates with your target customer. The theme should be evident in all aspects of your store, from display windows to product displays. 

For example, a rustic theme might feature wooden displays and earthy color schemes, while a high-end fashion store might focus on sleek, minimalist designs.

3. Window displays

The store's front window is your first opportunity to grab potential customers' attention. A well-designed window display should tell a story, showcase your best products, and create a sense of curiosity. Use lighting, props, and signage to complement your theme. Rotate displays regularly to keep the window fresh and engaging.

4. Presentation of products

Arrange your merchandise in groupings that make sense to customers. Group relevant products together, such as outfits or complementary accessories. Consider implementing in-store technology. This not only aids customers in finding what they need, but also encourages them to purchase additional items.

5. Balance and symmetry

Visual balance is essential in creating a flow in the shopping experience. Balance can be achieved through symmetry, with identical or similar displays on either side of the store's center. Asymmetrical balance can also be used to create interest, but it should be done with care to avoid visual clutter.

6. Colors and lighting

Color and lighting play a significant role in influencing the mood and atmosphere of your store. Bright, well-lit spaces often create a more inviting ambiance. Select a color palette that matches your brand's identity and the emotions you want to evoke in your customers.

For example, color combinations of warm tones can create a cozy and welcoming feel, while a cool color palette can convey a sense of calm and sophistication. Monochromatic colors can also create a sense of intrigue and could be used if your retail store is featuring a seasonal color.

7. Planogramming

A planogram is a visual representation of how products should be displayed in-store. It provides a blueprint for product placement, taking into account factors like product popularity and the flow of customer traffic. Creating and following a planogram can help maintain a consistent visual merchandising strategy based on your store's floor plan.

8. Utilize props and decor

Props and decor elements can add depth and character to your store's displays. They should complement your theme and make your products more appealing. For example, a surf/swim shop might use surfboards and beach-themed decorations, while a bookstore could feature cozy reading nooks with comfortable seating.

9. Keep it fresh

Regularly refreshing your displays is vital to keep customers engaged. Change the layout, signage, and decor to match seasons, holidays, or special events. This encourages repeat visits and makes your store feel current and exciting.

10. Monitor and adapt

Lastly, pay attention to how your individual customers respond to your visual merchandising efforts. Use sales data, customer feedback, and observations to refine your strategy continually. What works for one store may not work for another, so it's crucial to tailor your approach to your unique customer base.

The benefits of visual merchandising

There are so many benefits of visual merchandising, but below are the two most important and most impactful byproducts. 

Increased sales

Virtual merchandising can drive sales by presenting products in an appealing and interactive way. By creating immersive and engaging shopping experiences with eye-catching displays, retailers can encourage customers to explore more products and make purchases. 

Enhanced customer engagement

Virtual merchandising allows retailers to engage customers in innovative ways, such as virtual showrooms, 360-degree product views, and interactive display demonstrations. This increased engagement can lead to a better customer experience and higher conversion rates. 


Visual merchandising is an art that can transform your retail space into a thriving, customer-attracting environment. By understanding the basics, establishing a strong theme, using various techniques to display your products, and paying attention to detail, you can create a memorable shopping experience for your customers.

Remember that visual merchandising is not a one-time effort—it's an ongoing process that evolves with your business and customer preferences. So keep experimenting, adapting, and fine-tuning your strategy to ensure your store's success in the competitive world of retail.

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