Let's Get Visual - Top 5 Tips on Visual Merchandising for Small Indie RetailersAs we head into November we’re putting the finishing touches to our Christmas window display it got me to thinking about visual merchandising in general and putting finger to keyboard to write a little blog of our top tips.

Visual merchandising is a massive topic and the really BIG brands spend millions on their shop displays, so as a little indie it can feel quite intimidating to feel like you’re going up against the big guys, particularly at this time of year.

Here at the gallery we’ve been hugely blessed and supported by our retail mentor Peter Cooper who, along with little ol’ me come up with the main windows each month. Over the 12 years we’ve been here we’ve learnt that a strong main window which changes regularly does pay dividends even though it’s incredibly time consuming and labour intensive! We’re incredibly lucky to have a large, deep window which has allowed us to experiment and display the work of our artists and makers.

We also try to make sure that our windows reflect our story which is quite a simple one – “ to support British artists & makers and to make your home more beautiful”!

Attracting Customers to Your Shop
A visually attractive window display is crucial to the small retailer – it’s the “eyes of your shop” and if done well can compel your customers to cross the threshold into your retail space.   We’re not above getting our inspiration from the big brands – they have the bucks to create amazing displays but why not pick up on some of their ideas and translate them to you space!   Pinterest is a great place to browse ideas for shop windows – just remember that when you’re searching type in “store xxxx” as you get back more results        

Let's Get Visual - Top 5 Tips for Visual Merchandising for Small Indie RetailersUpdating the Inside of Your Shop
If you’ve got a small space then a quick, cheap and easy way to update your “look” is to paint your walls a different colour.  The wonderful people at Ryder & Hope in Lyme Regis have this down to a fine art – they repaint their walls at least twice a year which rings in the changes and complements the changing seasons.

We have quite a large retail space and trying to take down all those framed paintings is a huge task so what we did was use wallpaper instead!  At the moment we’ve got red-brick which is very forgiving when you have to keep banging holes into the walls to put up pictures!

Grouping TogetherLet's Get Visual - Top 5 Tips for Visual Merchandising for Small Indie Retailers
Blocking products by colour or theme is a really effective tool – it draws the customer to colours that they like and is much easier on the eye and creates a calmer and more serene space for people to shop in.

If you group items that go together this can then lead to customers buying several items as they see that they “belong with each other”.  For us this might be some ceramics with artwork which we think goes well and then the very obvious the fab Archivist Press matches with the candles that we sell – simple but very effective! 

Change Your Displays Regularly
We can’t emphasise this enough – with your larger displays we’d say they need to be changed every 4-6 weeks.  Customers notice when your window and your larger displays change even if you’ve only moved the products around.  We’ve had numerous people come into the gallery saying “have you sold such and such” – often we’ve just moved it around but invariably the customer will either buy the item they were after or buy something else!  Moving things around also makes people think you’ve got new products in the shop, even if you haven’t.

Online Sales
If you’re like us, you’ve probably got an online shop and if you haven’t then it’s something you really need to think about – there’s a billon person audience out there waiting to find you!   We often find that customers will come into the gallery and Let's Get Visual - Top 5 Tips for Visual Merchandising for Small Indie Retailersclock something and then a few days later might buy it online – this is particularly the case with people who are on holiday.  In the same way that you spend time making your physical premises look fabulous we’d encourage you to make sure that your online shop is equally as attractive.  It’s something that we’re working on as we know that this is our weak area – not so much for the artwork but our other contemporary craft and lifestyle products.   We’ve found inspiration from all sorts of places including Instagram and Pinterest in trying to find our online “style” – a work in progress but we’re getting there!

So there we have it – our thoughts on a good retail space…not forgetting that having nice music playing, even though there is a cost to pay for this, makes for a good sensory experience and then the really obvious make sure the shop and products are clean!