What Role Does Visual Merchandising Play
in the Customer Journey?

Make It Easy for Customers to Discover, Compare and Purchase
Jenna Worrell, Marketing Manager — Product and Vertical Marketing

Visual merchandising is often called the “silent salesperson,” which is spot-on. The customer journey starts by attracting attention with a visually interesting window display. Bob Phibbs, also known as “the Retail Doctor,” believes that great merchandising is one of the most impactful ways to influence a brick-and-mortar shopper and get them to pause and consider. He detailed the most important elements of visual marketing as follows:

  • Curated products
  • A featured spot
  • Well-lit displays
  • Props of appropriate size
  • A limited color palette

It’s all about discovery and drawing potential shoppers inside. Only then can retailers engage customers with product displays, signage, personal interactions and other parts of the merchandising journey.

Sharon Lessard, Senior Director of Global Store Development at Under Armour, said in a LinkedIn article that “successful visual merchandising attracts, engages and motivates the customer to make a purchase.” She identified the key visual merchandising elements that brick-and-mortar retailers should consider:

  • Customer journey maps: Express how the brand should be experienced from windows to checkout, setting the stage for all other customer impact elements.
  • Floor maps: Create a merchandise hierarchy and zoning for merchandise placement.
  • Window displays: Communicate current styles, content and price messaging to entice customers into the store.
  • Feature presentations and walls: Engage customers as they enter the store, departments or transition spaces through use of mannequin vignettes, forms, furniture, fixtures and visual communications such as digital content and photography.
  • Tables, vitrines, hanging floor and wall fixtures: Present merchandising to create a customer experience with interest, density and depth.
  • Fitting rooms (if applicable): Generate discovery and engagement through face-to-face human connection, something that isn’t available with online shopping.
  • Checkout experiences: Maximize this sometimes-overlooked visual merchandising tool — the last touch before the customer leaves the store.

Visual merchandising also plays a role in the look, feel and culture of your brand, as noted in this article by Ruth Altman in Altman said that visual merchandising “can create awareness while simultaneously increasing brand loyalty. Most importantly, it can draw customers in and close the sale — all based on the aesthetic quality of your retail display.” She believes that when a brand is successfully showcased, it enriches the customer experience, leading to a positive shopping experience and increased sales.

Remember to be consistent with your branding throughout all of your marketing materials. This means conveying your brand’s voice, look and feel consistently across all platforms — from window and in-store displays to signage and advertising. This builds customer awareness and brand loyalty, strengthening the emotional connection customers have with your brand.

Need help maintaining brand consistency in your marketing? Be sure to read our blog article, “What to Include in a Creative Style Guide.”