There is an ever increasing demand on Visual Merchandising (VM) departments to develop and assist in the development of the retail experience – away from the long established traditional locations where the visual merchandiser would normally work.
VM is linked inevitably with the visual experience of the customer. Everything the customer sees is key to the good marketing and positioning of a brand. Desirability of what’s on offer is – as always – dependent on how it looks. Our emotions are triggered by what we see and how we feel about what we see. The on-line experience is bringing the retailer into the home, office or into the very hand of the customer wherever they are and whenever, 24hours a day.
Who better to show and prepare this experience than the visual merchandiser or visual stylist?
Within e-commerce there are a number of opportunities to promote a brand, along with its product. This list keeps on growing as new platforms, trends and social media develop.
Various platforms provide presentation opportunities which should be seized in order to connect and nurture future clients or customers.
Retail is about creating brand awareness and creating profit to survive and go on from strength to strength. It’s about numbers as always and getting as much as possible presented to entice the customer to like what they see.
To quote a slightly olderand long respected colleague; “what they see is what you sell”. Therefore as the trader would represent his or her goods in the shop window and follow through in-store, the e-experience has to do the same. Title pages have to not only represent the brand or organisation, but they need to be desirable enough to make the customer click ‘to go in’ and investigate further.
The ease of e-shopping should follow the same ease and logic of the real time experience, grouping pages and products as expected to be worn or used. Creating a discipline and structure will help the customer find things easily. Attention to and focus on details can be highlighted with images to show and make up for the inability to touch the product. Selected high definition images can be used to target or express the look and feel a particular item has.
The images presented to customers must be styled and represent the end use of the garment, but include the lifestyle of the brand.Product is always key, just as the customer is always king and we must remember this at all costs.
Good presentation is very important in how merchandise is shown no matter where. Coordinating different outfits and providing accessorizing solutions play their part in creating a successful image.
At present most e-tailers use weekly photographic updates to capture newness of what’s of offer in line with new intake of product to the retail stores. Product selection and preparation is the responsibility of the VM function through a number of individuals either styling the garment for the photo shoot or providing copy to support the image or an editorial if required.
Social media too plays a key part in presenting what we have. It’s also an opportunity to grow the brand and product awareness. Here again VM provides a key role in offering and providing images to the various administrators to ensure we can capture the correct mood’s being discussed on line. Incentives for repeated hits enable this media to encourage our customers to revisit the web site or to visit the retail store to redeem their loyalty reward.The styling and input here however is in a slightly different ‘visual language’ and is presented in a softer tone. We are chatting, not hard selling, we are communicating with often an already loyal customer base. Therefore visual tips on styling or how to wear different garments and new accessory items available are discussed.
Social media is administered on an ongoing basis with regular hits by our own sources to stimulate and encourage further debate. These hits are almost always supported with visuals, keeping the VM function busy generating a number of images per day.
The Visual Merchandiser helps to create looks and help the customer wherever they are and for whatever purpose. Inspiration is there also for our competitors and other businesses, for students studying fashion and other related faculties who all search the on-line world for guidance and further learning to continue their own development and experiences.
VM plays an ever increasing role in the whole retail experience. Ensure we all capture the true essence of our brand and product by utilizing all the correct talents and resources at our disposal.- There’s a whole visual word out there!
Твое: Head of concept store management & visual merchandising.
“What they see is what you sell”
Helen Robinson OBE / Debenhams plc: 1975-1986, Marketing and design management director
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