Tips for working with a visual merchandising consultant

Planning for floorset changes is right around the corner for most retailers and for many this time of year is particularly challenging, especially if you are an outdoor retailer and switching from ski season to bike season or heavier outerwear to spring jackets. Not only is it critical that you time this change well, but it is also important to get it in place as quickly as possible to avoid any disruption to customers. This can be a challenge for retailers of all sizes in terms of knowledgeable staff and payroll dollars.

One cost-effective option is to hire a visual merchandise consultant, a free lance professional who can guide your store through floorset moves, store remodel, and shoulder seasons. The return on investment of hiring a consultant can be substantial if both parties bring their best game to the table. A consultant can:

  • work with you on establishing a plan
  • collaborate with you on strategy for implementation (how long will the floorset take, how many people will be required, when should the work be done, etc.)
  • guide you on staff communication
  • set up all your displays, or train key people on how to maintain displays that are effective selling tools.
  • help you troubleshoot problem areas and maximize fixture usage
  • provide visual merchandising training

A good consultant, in my opinion, works hard to understand and appreciate your uniqueness, goals, demographic, and style of doing business and then helps you put into place a plan that not only reflects all of that, but that is realistic. A free-lance visual merchandiser guides you; he/she can not be effective left entirely on their own.

Things to think about:

  1. What are you hoping to achieve by working with a visual merchandising consultant? Do you want someone to be the hands-on labor behind your plan or are you looking for more of a collaborative effort and learning opportunity?
  2. What are you willing to spend to achieve your goals? Keep in mind that if your relationship with your consultant is effective, your return on investment will more than outweigh his/her costs.
  3. Do you desire an ongoing relationship with your consultant or just a one-time project? Obviously this can change over time, but consider if you really just need help with your store re-model or would consider regular visits to keep your visual projects effective.
  4. Who on your staff do you want your consultant to interact with?
  5. How will you measure the effectiveness of the collaboration?

Free-lance employees can not only be an incredibly cost-effective way of achieving your goals, but should also be a breath of fresh air for your business. The relationship should encourage and motivate you and your employees, and be an experience that grows your business.

 

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