5 Common Visual Merchandising Mistakes in Retail Stores

In today’s increasingly competitive brick-and-mortar environment, a good product selection and low prices will not necessarily translate to success. Instead, retailers need to think about how they can design their stores to maximize their sales.
Unfortunately, many retailers put store design as an afterthought. This is especially true for retailers that are trying to break into the industry, as there are a lot of more pressing considerations to make. Retailers need to know what they are selling, for what price, to which consumers, exactly where their store will be located, and more. With retailers juggling so many important considerations, it’s no wonder that design occasionally falls to the wayside.
If you’re looking to revamp your store design, there are a few common mistakes that visual merchandisers tend to make when initially designing their store layout. Let’s take a look at five common design pitfalls, and learn how to avoid making them.
visual merchandising mistakes

Mistake 1: Designing Without Your Target Market in Mind

Before visual merchandisers even begin designing, they need to understand the needs and motivations of the store’s primary target market. If this critical step is ignored, many members of your target market may not even bother to enter your store, or glance at your products!
Understanding your brand’s target market goes far beyond basic demographic information like their age, marital status, or income. Instead, try to discern details about their behavior and lifestyle, and then craft your store’s interior accordingly.
For example, imagine that you run an apparel store. Look at customer data, either by observing customers or surveying them. What’s the archetype of your most profitable customer segment? Is it streetwear enthusiasts, practical outdoors people, or people who enjoy high-end fashion? Each one of these segments will expect something wildly different, so design your store with their needs in mind.


Mistake 2: Neglecting the Floor Plan

Floor plans are critical to controlling the flow of traffic through your store. However, many retailers are too hasty when designing their floor plan, resulting in cluttered or unclear footpaths. This can ultimately lead to blockages that hinder your customer’s movement through the store, which cause evoke feelings of claustrophobia or impatience.
To combat this, take a moment to consider how customers travel through your store. For example, American shoppers often immediately turn right after entering a store – so when planning your store layout, make sure there are easily accessible and intuitive paths for customers to travel down. Ensure that these paths also encourage easy access to the cash register, exit doors, and the perimeter of your store.

Mistake 3: Ignoring the Checkout Area

The checkout area is one of the most important sections in your store – arguably as important as the door your customers walkthrough. Customers need to be able to find where your point of sale area is in order to buy anything – and, the checkout area is chock-full of opportunities to encourage impulse purchases.
Think about your own shopping experiences: Have you ever been in an impossibly large retail store and been unable to find the checkout area? It’s a big problem – and having customers wander through your store searching for the point of sale isn’t going to encourage further purchases. It is going to encourage customers to abandon their items and leave. As a result, consider placing your register close to the store’s main entrance so it is immediately noticed or using signage to lead customers to the check-out area.
Once your checkout area has been placed in a conspicuous location, consider placing small, inexpensive items near the checkout using dump bins or display boxes. Customers have a high propensity to purchase inexpensive items near checkout, and every paying customer will eventually enter your point of sale area.

Mistake 4: Stagnant Store Designs

It’s a lot of work to put together a store’s entire visual merchandising strategy, and even more, work to execute that strategy within the store. As a result, many retailers are hesitant to alter their displays unless it is absolutely necessary. However, a stingy approach to visual merchandising is not conducive to drumming up business.
Look at the items in your store that are displayed prominently, but not selling as often as you’d like. These items may need to be moved to another area of the store, paired with a brand new retail display, or combined with actionable retail signage. From there, take some more time to refresh key areas of your store that may have remained static for years.
As well, don’t forget to decorate for the holidays! Certain holidays, like Christmas and Mother’s Day, create an incredible amount of sales volume. By promoting your products as great gifts, either through window displays or signage, your store can maximize their revenue.

Mistake 5: Designing with Little Cohesion

Many retailers buy displays to support their growing inventory. While growth is undeniably a positive event, it can cause retailers to purchase racks, shelving systems, and displays that follow diverse design philosophies. If a consumer sees a wooden clothing rack next to a metal clothing wrap, it can subconsciously promote feelings of disorganization and discomfort. To resolve this, determine what the primary theme of your store is going to be – and find a new home for the retail displays that don’t fit your store’s motif.
It’s worth noting that some stores are designed to be eclectic on purpose – in which case, this tip doesn’t need to be followed too closely. However, it is still imperative that you have a method to the madness and tie all displays together using a central theme, even if it’s tenuous at times. Otherwise, your store will appear more cluttered and overwhelming than interesting and quirky.

Final Thoughts

Designing a store’s layout, and organizing retail displays within them, can be a daunting task. Furthermore, it’s not easy to attain a perfect visual merchandising strategy from the outset. For this reason, visual merchandisers should be vigilant and consistently review their overall visual merchandising strategy to avoid these common pitfalls.
Searching for new displays to liven up your store? Take a look at our collection of retail displays, or contact us today.