“Top 10 Visual Merchandising Secrets” by Melissa Stivale via Independent Retailer

“Top 10 Visual Merchandising Secrets” by Melissa Stivale via Independent Retailer

Visual merchandising plays a pivotal role in converting sales at the store level. The concept seems simple: display inventory in an organized way that engages and informs customers. However, there should be a lot of thought and purposeful planning that goes into designing everything from the store layout and signage to the proper lighting and product arrangements. 

Here are some tricks of the trade that retailers will want to keep in mind when implementing visual merchandising strategies for your store that work no matter what you are selling:

1. The Rule of Three:

Not only is this persuasive as a writing principle, but the rule of three is also a smart technique for grouping products. The small amount prevents customers from being overwhelmed by too many choices, and the asymmetry effectively captures their attention since the brain takes longer to process odd numbers. 

You can use this strategy to group similar competing products together or cross-sell related items from the same brand. Clothing retailers benefit from placing a trio of mannequins styled in coordinating color palettes in display windows, while electronics stores can use it to emphasize their range of gaming consoles.

2. The Pyramid Principle:

While seemingly like the rule of three, the pyramid principle deals more with height and balancing the dimensions of your displays. The goal is to create a visually appealing triangle by placing the largest or tallest items at the center and surrounding them with smaller products on either side. 

Display tables come in handy here, as do acrylic risers and pedestals, which all allow you to vary the height of merchandise to build the right shape. Circling back to the electronics store example, you can have one table dedicated to XBOX, where the console itself would be placed on a riser at the center, while accessories like headsets and controllers would balance out the sides.

3. The Power of Color Psychology:

Color is of huge importance in visual merchandising, as it can impact a person’s mood and behavior. Red is believed to encourage appetite and causes a sense of urgency, while green is associated with eco-friendliness and health. Blue induces a feeling of calm and stimulates productivity, while orange and yellow promote joy and optimism. 

Utilized correctly within customized store signage, risers, and other displays, they can subconsciously sway customers into buying products by altering their perception. Pick your colors according to your business needs.

4. The Five Second Rule:

When it comes to signage, being able to convey your message quickly and clearly is key because customers typically will not give it more than five seconds of their attention. If it takes longer than that to understand, they will just pass it by. 

Whether you are pointing shoppers in the direction of online pickup, looking to advertise a sale, or attempting to garner buzz around new merchandise, it is smart to utilize customized signs and standing sign holders that are easy to read and can be moved around depending on your needs.

5. Show Instead of Tell:

As vital as signage is to convey important messages, there are plenty of instances when demonstrating or staging a product is the best way to drive sales. Furniture stores build a vision of what the rooms in a customer’s home could look like with their pre-assembled pieces, while bakeries offer free samples so customers can taste before they buy. It is about creating a first-hand experience with the products, instead of telling customers what their experience will be.

6. The Two Finger Rule:

There are a few best practices for properly displaying products on shelves, and the two finger rule refers to the maximum amount of space there should be between the top of the product and the shelf above it. This helps optimize the number of items you can display, and creates the look of a fully stacked shelf, while still allowing customers to quickly grab what they need. It is easy to maneuver shelves on adjustable displays such as slat and grid walls to achieve just the right height.

7. Layout Matters:

While it may be an instinctual tactic to put your best-selling items at the entrance, a cleverer strategy is to display them as a focal point towards the back. This way customers must pass through other enticing inventory before they even approach what it was they came into the store for in the first place. 

Another reason to clear out the entrance is so you can form a decompression zone where consumers can easily transition into a shopping mindset free from the distractions of the outside world. This prevents them from being bombarded or overloaded as soon as they walk in the door.

8. The Effects of Lighting:

Lighting should never be an afterthought, as it can easily transform the overall look and feel of your store. There are three basic types of lighting to consider: ambient lighting is the overall, uniform level of light that sets the mood of the space; accent lighting is used to establish focal points and highlight important objects, like prominent new displays or best-sellers; and task lighting draws attention to action-oriented spaces like registers and fitting rooms. Layering them properly helps customers navigate the store with ease.

9. Shake Things Up:

As the times change, so too should your merchandise, and therefore your displays. Cafés that switch focus from iced coffees in the summer to pumpkin spiced lattes in the fall benefit from introducing the change with displays that generate excitement. Keeping up with trends also proves you are in the know, so continually replacing window displays and implementing fresh signage keeps your store relevant within a market that is always waiting for the newest thing to catch their eye.

10. Create a Cohesive Story:

Your entire omnichannel marketing strategy from online to in-store should tell a cohesive story via attractive imagery. Using the same color palette, font, and graphics throughout your social media, website, emails, and retail space will help customers easily recognize your brand and understand your mission.

Melissa Stivale is a professional content creator for the retail manufacturing industry and a writer at, a leading manufacturer of in-stock and customizable retail point-of-purchase (POP) displays and merchandise.

Independent Retailer is the leading trade publication for independent retail store owners. Dedicated to business professionals who manage or own a brick & mortar retail establishment as well as to those with an online store, each monthly issue of Independent Retailer offers expert advice on wholesale buying and selling. Offerings from America’s leading importers and manufacturers are showcased in dozens of product categories, and buyers across the country use each issue as their supplier resource of choice. Here is the link to bookmark:

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