Visual merchandising (VM) is an indispensable retail discipline, consisting of a series of practical selling tools used to influence what and how much consumers buy.  

~Karl McKeever

Businesses never get a second chance to make first impressions. In today’s oversaturated market, a marketer’s success rate and capacity to generate a return on investment depend on a comprehensive grasp of consumer behavior and the logic underlying buying power. Unfortunately for marketers, customer behavior has evolved into an ever-changing idea, necessitating adjustment. Visual merchandising uses colors, patterns, lighting, and signage to attract customers and boost sales. Typically, this is evident via displays, mannequin arrangements, props, photographs, and product placement. This essay explores visual merchandising and the importance of a virtual merchandiser in any retail environment.

What is Visual Merchandising?

Visual merchandising is creating, preparing, and displaying products to highlight their various attributes and advantages to potential customers. Visual merchandising is concerned with how the product or brand is presented visually to the customer and whether or not this message is interpreted in an “acceptable” manner. In this discussion, “appropriately” refers to the situation in which the message has a favorable impact on the mindset or behavior of the client, ultimately resulting in the customer making a purchase.

The art and science of presenting things in the most visually appealing way, primarily focusing on interacting with customers through images and presentations, is known as visual merchandising. That is to say, the exterior of the business, including its window displays, facades, and retail spaces, as well as the inside of the store, are all considered part of the store’s visual merchandising (orienting factors, signage, layout, presentation techniques, props, spatial elements, and ambient conditions). The store’s layout, the equipment, the goods, and the displays are all examples of visual merchandising aspects.

Other factors include colors, lighting, shapes, and positioning. Merchandising comprises various elements, such as visual merchandising, the assortment of products, music, odors, and temperature. There are four categories of factors that can influence a person’s impulse purchase decision: the individual making the purchase, the atmosphere of the store, the circumstances, and the product itself. The store environment comprises many components, including the staff, the type of business, the layout, and the ambiance. Some authors include the store’s layout and ambiance as part of the definition of “visual merchandising aspects.

The following five aspects of visual merchandising were analyzed for their potential impact: Several factors influence impulse purchases, including 

  • window displays
  • the design inside the store
  • promotional signs
  • store layout, and 
  • the mood inside the business.

Why is Visual Merchandising Important?

Improving the consumer experience is essential to a business’s success, and visual merchandising is crucial to this end. It helps to arrange the retail space and makes it easier for customers to find what they need, enhancing their shopping experience. Moreover, professionally designed displays assist in attracting, engaging, and informing clients more effectively. Retailers may impact the amount of time a consumer spends in-store as well as the decisions they make. Another key thing to remember is that the in-store experiences can provide “touch moments” in which customers engage with products. This could be holding a flower pot, relaxing in a comfortable chair, or trying on and utilizing trial products.

Sell Specific Merchandise 

Some products generate greater earnings than others, and sellers wish to sell more of these products. Visual merchandising helps to promote certain specific objects, hence increasing their sales.

Influence Buyer decisions

Visual merchandising entails the use of neuromarketing strategies to influence buyers’ decisions by appealing to their subconscious thoughts. This entails

  • strategic product placement (profitable items are maintained at eye level),
  • store paint (to set the mood),
  • smell (to induce cravings),
  • and music (to influence you subconsciously).

Meet Sales Targets

Visual merchandising focuses on improving the customer experience and increasing sales. Visual merchandising is the salesperson that subconsciously influences customers to acquire intended products. Customers will enter your establishment and scan for visual cues. If you can capture their interest and direct them around your store, your sales will increase. Marketers achieve this by strategically positioning profitable things, making them visible and enticing consumers to purchase them.

Market Retail Stores

A remarkable store is what separates itself from the monotonous retail competition. The goal of visual merchandising is to distinguish the store in the thoughts of customers. This is accomplished through visual signals, location, and aesthetics, causing them to stop and look and, at times, take photographs or spread the word organically.

Build Your Own eCommerce Store

Hire eCommerce Developers

Most Important Elements of Visual Merchandising

1. Color is King

The most important element of visual merchandising is to project your brand identity and innovate on it constantly.                                                     

Abraham Arroyo, cofounder of Noble Planta

Probably an essential aspect of merchandising is color. Color can be utilized to generate specific emotions and can be linked to brand philosophy. For instance, warm, somber colors might be used to evoke a soothing atmosphere, while bright, dazzling colors can be utilized to stimulate emphasis.

color scheme

2. Maximum Display Visibility: What May Be Seen Sells

product display and whitespace

In-store and online, visibility encourages businesses to highlight things that match with a distinctive narrative and true brand image while also facilitating buyers’ ability to locate the desired items. Visibility prioritizes the products that shops promote the most, regardless of whether the items have a high-profit margin or are exclusive enough to generate customer loyalty, word-of-mouth, and social sharing.

3. Storytelling


The art of storytelling can be utilized by retailers to elicit favorable feelings from clients. In a world where attention spans are decreasing, marketing requires the use of engaging stories. Exceptional narratives should begin with distinctive brand messaging. When excited customers enter your store, it should stimulate all four senses.

4. Void Spaces

visual marketing void spaces

The element of visual marketing allows you to connect or separate goods in space. Positive space denotes the solid position of an object, whereas negative space denotes the empty space surrounding it. Negative space gives your products breathing room when used creatively. In stores, the space between the exhibited objects and the ceiling is frequently neglected yet can impact the customer experience. For instance, you can create an interesting show by applying contrasting colors to negative and positive surfaces.

5. Point of Concentration/Focal Point

Focal Point on Product

Every display needs a focal point to draw the viewer’s attention. This could be a fantasy image, a clever remark, or a company’s emblem. The focal point is often located at eye level and is visible from a distance.

6. Landscaping


Landscaping provides retailers with creative freedom by allowing them to operate in three dimensions: horizontal, vertical, and longitudinal. Simpler layouts simplify the user experience and improve the overall performance of your website. The landscape is essential to attracting the customer’s attention. A landscaper may also employ asymmetrical techniques to generate movement and product flow. The complexity of symmetry layouts exceeds that of symmetry layouts.

7. Lighting


Certain parts of the store and product assortment can be highlighted with the aid of light and illumination. It can also establish the store’s atmosphere. For instance, a well-lit retail atmosphere is favored in electronics and clothing stores where customers may wish to examine merchandise in close proximity. It is common for lounges, restaurants, and pubs to prefer dim lighting that provides a cozy, unhurried atmosphere.

8. Balance

Balance relates to the weight of opposing visual elements. Traditional or symmetrical balance offers each side equal weight and is pleasing to the sight. Asymmetrical balance produces the illusion of equal weight, although the things on either side are not the same. This results in a feeling of enthusiasm. You could experiment with the structure and visuals of the display until you achieve the desired aesthetic.

9. Theme

store Theme yellow

Consider adopting a theme, such as seasonal, holiday, back-to-school, retro, local events, or nature, for your display. Themes can be an effective approach for businesses to introduce a new product. If a business decides to select a theme, it should be mindful of its brand and intended audience.

Virtual Merchandising Strategy

Individuals need not create a floor plan for their retail location because the software allows you to visualize the sales area of your store. Having said that, this software considers all the factors that influence purchasing decisions, such as the flow of foot traffic, product display, and visual merchandising. You have the ability to do the following when you use graphic merchandising software to visualize your shop space:

  • Analyze the effects that various store layouts will have on sales, traffic flow, and the level of engagement displayed by customers.
  • Evaluate the design solutions for visual merchandisers that seem to be most effective for particular product categories or populations.
  • Examine the various aesthetically appealing and interesting ways that products can be exhibited.

Techniques of Visual Merchandising

Internal Design 

Interior Design 

Cases, tables, counters, mannequins, props, decorations, kiosks, vignettes, and point-of-purchase displays are examples of displays. Consumers should be able to peruse displays and make purchases without any assistance from staff. To assist create a profitable environment for the store, consider the following:

  • Shop Design & Layout
  • Point-of-Sale (POS) Display
  • Mannequins
  • Storefront illumination
  • Bundling the Atmosphere
  • Aromatic Music
  • Presentation in a shop

Exterior design 

The exterior is the first part of the store that potential customers see. This is what determines whether or not they wish to enter and shop. The store’s outside must attract customers’ attention and entice them to enter.



Planograms help retailers gather data that inspire smarter design, display, and merchandising choices to drive in-store sales. For a brick-and-mortar retailer, a well-designed store is a holy grail.

Seasonal Display

Assuring that your stores merchandising corresponds with what your customers are experiencing, be it a holiday or the season, will assist your business appear relevant to your audience. Seasonal displays can take various forms, including POP displays, focus points, window displays, and seasonal decorations. You must use timely merchandising in your store to leverage seasonal moods and purchasing patterns. It is crucial for firms to ensure that their present audiences connect with their overall brand message.



If the businesses visual marketing approach doesn’t incorporate digital signs, then the firm is missing out on a breakthrough method of customer engagement. Customers accustomed to televisions and other electronic devices utilize digital display screens throughout your store. With this in mind, the most important aspect of effective digital signage is its remarkable and unforgettable visual display. By using photos in your text, you may strengthen your brand and attract new customers. In addition, you may use animated graphics in window displays and point-of-sale displays to advertise your brand and merchandise. In addition, animated content can be used for marketing and promotional objectives.



Mannequins are detailed, life-sized figures used to showcase apparel. They can also be used to exhibit accessories such as jewelry and scarves.

Use Visual Merchandising to Tell a Story

Ultimately, you want your business to convey who you are, what you stand for, and what customers may anticipate from you. Customers desire this narrative because they want to comprehend and attribute significance to the areas where they shop. This is where narratives come in. 

Best Practices for Online Visual Merchandising 

  • Treat your website homepage as you would a window display
  • Work on your website layout
  • Make sure your website is easy to navigate
  • Create great product pages
  • “Bundle” your products
  • Inspire queueing customers
  • Harness the power of Social proof 
  • Checkout Line Merchandising = Online Checkout Optimization 

Great Examples of Visual Merchandising


Ikea tries breaking out of the big box. 

IKEA is an excellent example of a corporation that employs visual merchandising to create an unforgettable shopping experience. IKEA is widely recognized for its sophisticated visual merchandising coordination as its retailing strategy.

IKEA-visual-merchandising example

The products are placed in a manner that encourages customers to stroll around the store, find new items, and be open to purchasing an additional item or two; this results in increased impulse purchases. Ikea tells stories through its interior design by selecting colors and furniture designs that represent the brand’s concept or theme. Additionally, the corporation has an established web presence that attracts customers with appealing merchandising displays. The symbols for the primary categories are organized in a grid. The company has a retail layout that is distinct from its competitors, and its products are disposed of and sold in a manner that is distinct from its competitors. In Ikea stores, the client sees the product implemented in a scenario; if the client loves the product, he or she will purchase it in another area with a reference. The act of purchasing and assembling the goods results in a whole different experience for the customer, as the client must independently follow the instructions to build the product.

IKEA store

Despite this, practically all products are packaged in small, straight boxes to facilitate shipping and protect their safety.

2. ZARA 

zara store

Zara is an excellent example of a company that uses visual merchandising to tell a story. Zara’s headquarters in Spain have a collection of secret pilot stores where designs for its real stores are mocked up. Clothing and accessories in the store tell stories about specific themes or characters, such as this one: A full-time team of architects and visual-merchandising experts is also employed by the brand to ensure that Zara stores not only have the perfect narrative, ambiance, and layout but also have nearly identical scenes all over the world. The retailer employs a full-time team of architects and visual-merchandising experts whose sole job at Zara HQ is to design and curate every aspect of its fleet of stores, from the sleek decor and light-bulb color to the music playing and clothing placement. In all of its stores, the brand displays a complete outfit on a wall-mounted display rack. This interactive feature has gained popularity among Zara customers, who post photos of themselves wearing Zara outfits on social media. Zara also employs complementary colors and lighting effects to draw customers’ attention to specific areas of the store.

To Wrap It up 

If you wish to improve the visual merchandising of your retail store, this blog post will provide an excellent introduction to the subject. Whether by defining visual merchandising or examining some types and tactics for making better use of visuals in your stores, we hope this overview has been useful.

Frequently Asked Questions About Visual Merchandising

  1. What is the most important goal of visual merchandising?

    Visual merchandising’s primary objective is to attract customers and generate revenue. Indeed, it’s that easy, yet so crucial. Thus, a successful visual merchandising plan should attract customers into the store and keep them there long enough to make a purchase.

  2.  What does a visual merchandiser do?

    Visual merchandising is a marketing strategy that employs floor designs, color, lighting, displays, and other features to grab the attention of customers. The final goal is to utilize the retail area to increase sales.

  3. What are the five most important elements of visual merchandising? 

    While the majority of your decisions will be based on your personal tastes and preferences, you must also consider the five basic elements of Visual Merchandising—color, landscape, texture, communication, and décor—that comprise an effective display.

  4. What are the five key principles of visual merchandising?

    The five principles of visual merchandising include consumer-centric design, brand leverage, consideration of all senses, the use of interactive experiences, and execution.

Avatar photo

CTO at Emizentech and a member of the Forbes technology council, Amit Samsukha, is acknowledged by the Indian tech world as an innovator and community builder. He has a well-established vocation with 12+ years of progressive experience in the technology industry. He directs all product initiatives, worldwide sales and marketing, and business enablement. He has spearheaded the journey in the e-commerce landscape for various businesses in India and the U.S.