Smart Retailers Change Things

One of the things I’m asked most often by retail store managers, sales professionals and customers is “Why do retailers change things so much?” I love this question.

As a visual merchandiser, I have studied more than balance, color and texture in visual storytelling, I have also studied consumer psychology and gobbled up as many articles as I see on the science of why we make decisions. Grabbing attention is a powerful sales tool.

Sometimes I answer the question with a story: “Think of your drive home from work, or any drive you regularly take. Have you ever arrived home and realized you can’t remember much of the ride?” Most people have had this experience and when they say they haven’t, I then ask if they can tell me every thing they saw on the way home. Most can’t remember more than one or two eye-catching details.

We all have a store or stores we frequent and over time we become immune to the things that remain the same. Changing product placement and display every so often can bring fresh life to items that are not moving, generate excitement and encourage our customers to explore a bit on their way to what they came for. 

On a recent visit to Basalt, Colorado’s Hollyann, I spent three days working with the team. Our goal was to create a solid change both in layout and in product presentation to provide a new customer experience. Here are some before and after images from that visit:

This table had a nice consistent product presentation, but it lacked the lovely energy of the Hollyann shopping experience. It was time for a change! In the image below, we took a stationary collection and boy did this pop!

The front of store table is, for most retailers, a natural place to seduce people passing by. While the before table (below) was colorful, the collection was no longer telling a story.

After a fun rework, the front of store table was a powerful and colorful pull to visitors and began selling instantly!

One of the big changes we made was to shift a few fixtures around. Our goal was to make things fresh and airy, like Spring. We incorporated clothing into an area that was primarily home goods, shifted two shelving units that house the store’s jean collection and created a store window that was lush, green and full of hope for the coming season. Take a look below:

Above, the jean shelves block the wall at the rear of the store and create a barrier. Below, the view is unencumbered.

Enjoy the fun displays Merchandising Matters created below and think consider how you can get ready for spring!

Posted in fashion merchandising, retail display, visual merchandiser, visual merchandising training and education | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A walk through at a recent merchandising rework: Hollyann

Posted in fashion merchandising, retail display, Retail sales, visual merchandising training and education | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Visual Journey: Boston’s Newbury Street

Boston’s Newbury Street is a nostalgic place for this former New Englander and visual merchandiser to roam and I never pass up a chance to visit. On a recent trip east to spend time with family, I took a day to research what these fashion-forward retailers are doing to attract attention and to find inspiration.

For those who haven’t had the good fortune to visit this area of Boston, the street is lined with brownstones with retailers on street level, below street level and walk ups so the ability to call to passer’s by with good merchandising mojo for many of them is critical to foot traffic.

Below is an assortment of windows and interiors that I found compelling with a few words on why. Elements like color, texture, and mannequin style mixed with a few surprises keep windows the way they are meant to be: Magical and seductive.


Outrageous and on brand: Dolce and Gabbana. Funky and unusual details make a statement and the shoes set in a bed of flowers can’t help but grab attention and create curiosity.


Marc Jacobs seduces pedestrians with a simple color scheme — mannequins wearing the same dress in different colors and just you know, kicking back.


Woolrich is a brand this outdoor retail merchandiser is quite familiar with, and the brand understands how to communicate to the upscale shopper on Newbury Street who expects an experience. Heritage is clear, but the clarity in the merchandising has an eye to style.


Woolrich bays curated displays reflect the merchandise assortment below. I was tempted to try on that blue jacket but had to remind myself this was just about the research!


Hardware stores that have fun with their merchandising are savvy retailers and have the power to pull consumers away from big box competitors with their specialty themes. The gold repeat was an attention getter thanks to the variance of textures and height.


This trip introduced me to Muji and I fell in love with their merchandising style. Here, the travel display spelled out what accessories to consider for a trip and what to expect to find on the wall. No boring signage necessary here!


This image and the one below demonstrate how movement of simple hanging product can call attention to product. Pens above a table set with pens and journals, sneakers floating next to casual wear. The Muji experience was one of exploration and intrigue.



Color repeat in the form of fruit? Why not? The background grabbed attention, added texture and helped the clothing on the mannequin stand out. Alice and Olivia


Mannequins with attitude will always draw attention, especially when one is dashingly dressed in red while the others sport more neutral tones. Chanel

Posted in fashion merchandising, merchandising displays, shelving, display cases, retail display, Uncategorized, visual merchandiser, visual merchandising display tips, Visual Merchandising Tips | 1 Comment

Slow down and make a plan

I’m already in the midst of a busy summer with a full client list and lots of exciting work projects, and know that the difference between a runaway train and being the driver of my own train is having a plan. Having a plan is especially valuable to anyone in charge of visual merchandising details in their store.

Having a plan provides you with the ability to remain a few steps ahead and perhaps even more importantly, communicate your goals and desired outcome with your team. This communication insures everyone has a chance to be on the same page.

Simple steps to putting together a merchandising schedule:

  • Use a calendar to plot when you anticipate changing your windows and front of store. Be sure to think of promotions, community events, major sales and write them down.
  • Identify what story you anticipate telling with each event and indulge in some blue sky thinking about props, potential partners in addition to in-store merchandising.
  • Roughly sketch out the layout keeping in mind the following:
    • Theme
    • Purpose
    • Lighting
    • Color
    • Seasonal elements
    • Depth of display
    • Height variations
  • Get your team involved! Maybe even involve your customers!

You might spend more time on the front end when you plan a few months or a month out, but the time you will save is priceless. And you deserve that.


Posted in merchandising displays, shelving, display cases, Merchandising Planning, Outdoor Retail Merchandising, retail display, Retail sales, visual merchandiser, visual merchandising display tips, Visual Merchandising Tips | Leave a comment

Talking about Visual Merchandising at Outdoor Retailer

Posted in merchandising displays, shelving, display cases, Merchandising Planning, Outdoor Retail Merchandising, retail display, Retail sales, trade show merchandising, trade shows, visual merchandiser, visual merchandising display tips, Visual Merchandising Tips, visual merchandising training and education | Leave a comment

Outdoor Retailer Winter Market – Tour Stop #Two


United by Blue never fails to do something different in their booth and because of this, the the brand is a regular stop for the visual merchandising tours at Outdoor Retailer. While they don’t create a brand new booth with each show, they do change things up regularly. Ralph was added to announce their Bison line and you couldn’t miss him. Go big or go home! Always shake things up—don’t get lazy. Read Seth Godin’s “The Purple Cow” to understand why!

Posted in merchandising displays, shelving, display cases, Outdoor Retail Merchandising, retail display, trade show merchandising, trade shows, visual merchandising display tips, Visual Merchandising Tips, visual merchandising training and education | Leave a comment

Outdoor Retailer Stop #One: Mannequins and Color


Merchandising Matters recently returned from leading visual merchandising tours at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in Salt Lake City. Not there? No worries! Over the next few weeks, tour stops will be spotlighted here one by one with a brief paragraph explaining what caused the pause. Feel free to reach out if you have questions or want to chat.

Greneker mannequin display is held together here by a simple color story, black, white and the pop of red. Color helps differentiate mannequin styles and merchandise, sets the tone (this one is high energy) and creates clarity. Be sure you have a color strategy in display and product placement to clarify your merchandise messaging if you want to add impact.

Posted in merchandising displays, shelving, display cases, Outdoor Retail Merchandising, retail display, Retail sales, trade show merchandising, visual merchandising display tips, Visual Merchandising Tips, visual merchandising training and education | Leave a comment

Best Practices for the Outdoor Retailer Manual — On Sale Now!

Visual Merchandising Best Practices For The Outdoor Retailer

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New Program: 2017 Merchandising Matters Membership begins 1/25/17

Visual merchandising knowledge can directly impact your bottom line and improve sales across all categories. Confidence in product placement and understanding of best practices also leads to a more satisfied team because they know what to do. Just as important is how the development and execution of a solid visual merchandising strategy, saves time, leads to the creation of community and provides excellent customer service.

The Merchandising Matters Membership is a new platform for your retail environment to receive training in best practices so that your team stops spinning and to share ideas with colleagues. This innovative membership has been developed for retail store managers, store visual merchandisers, and sales team members as a tool to strengthen your visual merchandising skill set.

This membership requires a 12 month commitment, will be limited to 15 retailers and for just $150/month will offer the following:

  • “Visual Merchandising Manual for Outdoor Retailers”
  • Monthly training webinars that align with the following key topics in the manual:
    • Laying the Foundation: Who you are and why you do what you do
    • Consumer Psychology and your Target Audience
    • Developing a Visual Merchandising Strategy
    • The Big Picture: Store Layout, Mapping, Selling Mode and Event Planning
    • The Details: Merchandising Best Practices for Walls, Fixtures, Tables
    • Visual Merchandising Elements: Involving all the senses
    • Display: Windows, Front of Store, Front of Department
    • Cross Merchandising and Add-on Sales
    • Training Exercises for Team Involvement
  • Monthly membership meetings to seek solutions and share strategy and learn from one another
  • Private Facebook page for interaction among members in between meetings and to create visual merchandising community
  • Monthly 1:1 meetings so that members can receive individual feedback on their visual merchandising programs
  • Access to images and photographs sent to membership as examples of best practices so that members have visual examples

The investment for this membership is just $1800 for an entire year of training. Registered retailers can include up to 2 team members in group meetings. Webinars will be recorded and made available for viewing by your team on your own schedule. Monthly membership meetings will be held the final Wednesday of every month at 9 a.m. MT.  Membership runs from 1/25/17-12/27/17. Sign up here.

Posted in fashion merchandising, Merchandising Planning, Outdoor Retail Merchandising, Retail sales, small business tips, visual merchandiser, visual merchandising training and education, Working with a Visual Merchandising Consultant | Tagged | Leave a comment

Training Webinars: Power up your Holiday Visual Merchandising!

The retail holiday season can feel like a runaway train once it starts and for many stores, the visual merchandising strategy is relegated to “pile it high and watch it fly.” Time is tight and developing a strategy can feel overwhelming, especially if you aren’t sure where to start. These three webinars, developed specifically for outdoor retailers, will provide your team with immediately executable skills and solid direction on display areas, cross merchandising and gift groupings, and event planning so that you move more merchandise while providing a positive in-store experience for your customers. Webinar attendees will also receive 20% off a visual merchandising assessment to continue their learning. Investment: $49.99 for all three sessions. Space is limited, so hurry up and sign up here!

Master the following in three separate meetings:

1 – Windows, Front of Department & Front of Store: Wednesday October 26, 2016

Your window, Front of Department (FOD) and Front of Store (FOS) displays can be a powerful draw especially during the holidays. Windows, FOD and FOS act together, like a headline to a magazine article does, to invite the consumer into your store and departments by hinting at what they will find inside. There are some simple visual merchandising tricks to make the development of themes easier to execute and for changing them frequently. How to create a plan for your individual store will also be discussed. This session will be highly visual and will lead you through these tricks so you leave the webinar ready to attack your windows!

2 – Gift Groupings and Cross Merchandising: Wednesday, November 2, 2016

A wonderful way to make your environment the go-to-place for buying holiday gifts is to provide ideas for the perfect presents. Placing gift groupings with merchandise from multiple departments in your store’s hot spots (we’ll talk about this too) is a wonderful visual cue for your customers. Some well thought-out cross merchandising can serve to spur sales of items that alone might not be so sexy, but that when placed with other products becomes a highly desired gift. This interactive workshop will make sure you are ready to roll with these effective tips!

3 – Engaging with Events: Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Today’s retail environment does more than sell merchandise–savvy retailers know the value of creating experiences for their shoppers. Experiences tap into our limbic brain which is where emotion lives and we tend to remember experiences more than a list of facts. And events are experiences! This session will explore how to plan simple events for your particular audience as well as explore ideas for these events. Attendees will leave this webinar with one event planned and ready to be implemented.

Posted in Outdoor Retail Merchandising, Retail sales, visual merchandiser, visual merchandising display tips, Visual Merchandising Tips, visual merchandising training and education | Leave a comment