Thursday, July 23, 2009

Dynamic Retail Displays

As a retail store owner, you know that your displays can certainly help make sales. They also help to brand your image, lure in customers and advertise new merchandise or promotions. Follow these simple rules to ensure that your retail displays are as effective and dynamic as they should be.

1) Make sure that your display has the proper lighting.

Marketing research has proven that spotlighting is most effective at getting customer’s to notice a display. Spotlighting does not necessarily mean harsh lighting, so be subtle. A strobe light might attract a lot of attention, but it will instantly turn away most customers.

2) Rearrange your displays often.

A lot of your potential customers will pass your store often. What got them to stop one day might be different that what got them to stop another day. Changing it up often will hold their interest and showcase more merchandise so that they can see that you really do have something to offer them.

3) Keep your store in line with the theme of the display.

Your store should reflect what you are advertising in your display. For example, if you have a mannequin in a bikini hanging out with mannequins in scuba gear, I would expect that you sold both in your store. If you don’t sell scuba gear, then don’t put it in the window.

4) Make sure that your window displays attract the right customers.

If you only want high-end customers, don’t use big “sale” signage in your window. You’ll only attract the bargain hunters that aren’t likely to spend money in your store. In turn, you’ll push away the bigger spenders that don’t want to push through a bunch of rummaging customers to buy high end clothes.

5) The display speed should be matched by the customer’s speed.

If your customers pass your window display in a car, it needs to be simple enough that they can decipher your message quickly. Simple mannequins wearing your clothing may be enough. But, if you are in an outdoor mall where customers leisurely stroll by, you could put in more detail to entice them to stop and take a look.

6) The display should be relevant to the buyer, right now.

This seems obvious, but many retailers make the mistake of advertising Christmas too soon; or bringing out the winter clothing in July. Most people do not buy their clothing so far in advance. Advertise “back to school” clothes when most people are buying them. You’ll make a lot more sales and customers won’t view you as ridiculously desperate to get the good sales season started.

7) Display your clothing on a mannequin.

Use mannequins to your advantage by displaying your clothes as they look when they are worn. Customers don’t have to rummage through crowded racks or make multiple trips to the dressing room to determine if they will like how something looks when it is worn.

Follow these simple rules with your displays and you will certainly draw some of the right kind of attention to your retail store.

About the Author: Ron Maier is the Vice President of S & L Store Fixtures, a leading online resource for retail displays, including mannequins, dress mannequin forms, female mannequins, gridwall and slatwall store fixtures. For more information, please visit

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Mannequin Window Displays: Why They Are Important

Fashion merchandising can have a big impact on your sales, but nothing is as important as your window display. Use the psychological factors for creating a first impression to lure the right customers to your store using your window display as your biggest advertisement.

When a customer approaches a retail store, the first thing they notice is the window display. Your window displays should give the customer a lot of information. Of course, they should showcase your best fashions and intrigue people to come inside. They should also have a lot of subtle cues to buy as well. You can benefit greatly by being purposeful in your window display design.

Our brains are geared to make snap decisions and create first impressions. This gives us the ability to quickly judge levels of danger, distinguish likes and dislikes, as well as be subjective about something’s significance or insignificance to us. Using this information in a retail setting is very beneficial. Your window display is a prime example of where this psychological structure can be put to good use.

Remember that you are not only trying to attract people, but that you are really trying to attract people that will buy something from you. Sometimes this means deterring the people that you do not want wasting your time, rummaging through your merchandise, or making negative comments about your store in front of customers that might have been considering a purchase.

Your window display is really like a giant advertisement. So, it makes sense to use the rules of advertising, only applied to a three dimensional display. According to marketing research, the first and most effective part of an advertisement is impression. They should be able to figure out, at a glance, if you sell the type of clothing that they are looking for at the price that they are able to afford.

The second part of your plan should include usage. When a person looks at your display, they should be able to see how they would use the product. This is where mannequins really take the merchandising cake, so to speak. Mannequins allow you to create a scene, showing how the clothing can be used. For example, while playing tennis, getting married, or while at the beach. Mannequins have proven to be the most effective merchandising tool in the business for decades. This brings us to part three.

The third part of your design plan should exhibit self-fulfillment. Your customer will first look and see that your store is targeted at them, then notice that the items can be used for what they would be using them for, and then they should feel like buying these items would fulfill their needs in some way. Practical, emotional or social needs should come to mind when they look at the window display.

This window display plan, combined with the use of mannequins, will help customers visualize what it would be like to wear the clothing that you are selling. If all of their areas of interest and fulfillment are met before they even enter the store, then your job of selling the merchandise should be a lot easier.

About the Author: Ron Maier is the Vice President of S & L Store Fixtures, a leading online resource for retail display cases including mannequins, mannequin forms, gridwall and slatwall store fixtures. For more information, please visit

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Boutique Visual Marketing

Creating a visual marketing approach for your boutique should be part of your business plan. Creating your own visual scheme can be fun and easy. Using this information will help you to narrow down decisions that you need to make when designing the look of your boutique. It can help you avoid mistakes and keep you from sending mixed signals to your customers. Stick to a good visual marketing plan, and you can more easily and effectively establish a brand image with your target market.

Price Suggestion: This is the first thing to consider. Once you know who your target demographic is, you should begin to get a feel for what your prices should look like. When you have decided on prices, the next step is to design your store around the idea of “price suggestion”. You can get a general idea of a store’s prices when you simply look at it. Lots of empty space, low racks, no price tags and no fluorescent lights suggests high priced items. Colorful giant sale signs, crammed garment racks, and bad lighting suggests discount bargain store. Planning the look and feel of your store around your prices will not only help to attract the target market, but it will also discourage those who are unlikely to spend any money in your boutique.

Layout: The layout of a store is another reflection of price and quality. Aisles in straight lines big enough for shopping carts are for discount department stores. They usually have a tile “track” for carts that surrounds carpeted areas that slow down wheels for department lingering. You will see promotional items and impulse items around the track to stop and entice passing customers into entering the carpeted area.

A boutique, however, has a much different objective. Boutique owners want customers to enjoy being there. They should be surprised, dazzled and pleased at the unique items that they find as they go deeper into the store. Boutiques often have a very random layout meant to stop and engage the customer every few feet. Sections of the boutique may even be completely hidden by other displays until the customer rounds the corner. This helps to facilitate the surprise factor when the merchandise is revealed.

Consumer Response: Boutique owners want to further engage their customers by delighting the senses. This adds to the boutique experience. You will often see interesting lighting, colors, textures and designs. Lights will be pleasing to the eye, not harsh or bright. Smells of incense, perfume, soaps or candles will get the customer even more involved. Calming scents can encourage more browsing. The smell of suntan lotion can put the customer in the mood to buy swimwear. The possibilities here are endless.

Merchandising: The customer needs to be able to see what kind of items you offer by glancing, not by digging. Slatwall or gridwall displays can keep the clothing facing outward where it is easily seen. But, you still need to show what these items look like on. Displaying a 3D visual, like a mannequin, is the most effective strategy of visual marketing. If someone can see what items actually look like on, then they are more likely to walk over and check it out. Limp clothing on a hanger doesn’t attract much attention.

Use these tips to help with setting up your boutique in an effective manner. It can save you time, money and help you make loyal, long-term customers.

About the Author: Ron Maier is the Vice President of S & L Store Fixtures, a leading online resource for retail display cases including mannequins, mannequin forms, gridwall and slatwall store fixtures. For more information, please visit

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Friday, July 3, 2009

Retail Mannequin Displays

Back to school time is the time to start getting excited about your retail store making lots of money. To do so, you have really got to focus on what draws customers to your store and what influences their spending. Human beings use a complex range of criteria for deciding what to buy and how much to spend. Teenagers and other back to schoolers are really complex, but there are some basic premises that you can use to try and influence their thinking and spending.

Teenagers in general are influenced by their image, their peers and what they feel makes them stand out as an individual. Following a trend while staying individual is really key here. They want to be among the first to display certain styles or trends and they want to do it better than other kids their age. The bottom line is that you have to provide a visual that jumps out at them and screams, “This will make you look great, trendy and unique!”

Mannequins have long been known to be the most influential of all retail displays. For targeting teenagers frantically back to school shopping, utilizing mannequins is almost 100% necessary. Mannequins help them to identify on a personal level with the display.

Use your mannequin display to market your newest fashions, most expensive merchandise and all of your accessories. When mannequins were first used, it was thought that the clothes would simply sell better if people could see what they looked like on. This gave the clothing a more tailored look. But what they didn’t realize, was that they would have such a powerful effect on accessory sales. Purses, hats, jewelry, shoes, sunglasses and more started selling like crazy. But, why?

The answer is a little complex. It’s not like people weren’t looking at the accessories before. So what changed their mind from browsing to buying? This is where the psychological effect of the mannequin comes into play. By merchandising and accessorizing outfits, you show someone the whole package. Most people have a hard time putting items together to create a look. This is why fashion designers are so successful, they can imagine what will look good together and they do it. So, putting the right purse, hat, gloves, shoes, shirt and skirt together in a way that the customer might not have thought of before, does the work for them. They simply want to get the whole look.

Showing your teenage demographic what looks good, hot, trendy and modern together on a mannequin will take some of the stress of doing all of the thinking for themselves off. They are automatically drawn to interesting displays. Use mannequins in your store and front window to boost your sales this back to school season.

About the Author: Ron Maier is the Vice President of S & L Store Fixtures, a leading online resource for retail display cases including mannequins, mannequin forms, gridwall and slatwall store fixtures. For more information, please visit

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