Visual merchandising is a comparatively new career field in which has sprung up with the growing popularity of window and floor displays. Visual merchandisers main area of work is to create impossible window displays. They can find employment with fashion boutiques, shopping malls, euphoria etc. They are also engaged as shop floor mangers. They can also do freelancing on contract basis for windows displays in exhibitions, fares, and other places. Other career options under this head are production coordinator, quality control supervisor, fashion retailer, export manger etc. This paper discusses importance and potential for visual merchandising professionals.
CRITICAL ISSUES OF VISUAL MERCHANDISING
ROLE OF VISUAL MERCHANDISING
SCOPE FOR CAREER DEVELOPMENT
Selling a product (convenient/shopping/specialty) is incomplete without communicating its image. To build long term brand loyalty, in addition to the quality of the product, right image is very much needed. To attain this, many companies invest huge money the promotions. But many businesses neglect the retail front which is the face of the brands. In other words, the way the products are displayed at the retail shelves, the way the sales people communicate to the consumer etc. are the some of the issues, which if not handles well can be a great threat to the brands image. Visual merchandising is the art of presentation, which puts the merchandiser in focus. It educates the customers, creates desire and finally augments the selling process. This is an area where the Indian business people lack adequate knowledge and expertise. This inadequacy is best reflected in poor presentation/display and communication the various national and international exhibitions with phasing out of quantitative restrictions after the year 2004, the textile industry will have to compete purely on the competitive edge of the products and visual merchandising will be helpful for the projecting the uniqueness of the products and thereby increasing the market access and sales. It is high time that the Indian textile and clothing industry should understand and adopts the scientific and professional system of visual merchandising rather than the traditional practices of display of products and communication.
CRITICAL ISSUES OF VISUAL MERCHANDISING
Retailing them itself has transformed the way business is done and the so called merchandisers of disposition of store inventory. There are many ways and standard procedures to ignite sales, increase profits and maximize the net worth of the business. Visual merchandising helps in this respect. This calls for a concerted industry efforts to approximately value the importance of quality retail coverage such as self-integrity in store advertising, price verification, stock rotations, new item-cut and other related activities. To make effective the retail business one has to focus on the following critical issues of visual merchandising.
a) Graphics and signage: attention grabbing yet clear graphics by way to visually communicate the brand and these graphics when compiled with the right signage become the stalls complete instruction manual.
b) Trends and moot boards: This is misunderstood by many as mere decorations for the stall. The brand sources and moot boards convey the source, in fact the mere need of the product for the consumer to the buyer. A good trend story board display can exhibit a thought process nursing for the inspirations (research, to swatch development of the final usage of the product.
c) Space management: Most displays concentrate on the floor management of space. In order to create a complete desired ambience the ceiling space should also be given enough attention. Walls are not elastic space should be allocated to the available products as per the expectation of the customers to deliver best results. The major issues of space management are:
1. How do we want our ranges to look?
2. Hanging/stocked/customers etc.
3. What stock density do you want to achieve?
Generally, the more options/units you can hold for a given amount of space, the higher the potential returns. Space landing systems can be split into two types
Numeric and visuals: Numeric planning system simply allow users to account of space available and to calculate the ratios like returns on space. Visual systems allow users to create three dimensional walk through models of the stores and to preview the look of a store once ranging decisions have been made.
d) Dresiforms and mannequins: The dresiforms communicate the 3 dimensional form of the product. Along with the fit a good mannequin can also be customized to communicate a character, for example, special kids wear mannequins with caricatured faces convey the playful mood of the collections.
e) Synergy among the different stalls: A stall look should compliment the mood the whole fair too. So some visual elements from the fair, be it a color scheme or some material used should also be incorporated in the stall.
f) Out of the box thinking: With so many stalls around, it sometimes focus some stock value to grab the attention of the buyers. Innovative ideas in displaying the mannequins, swatches etc can invite many more people to the stall.
g) Merchandise planning: The first function of merchandising planning is making a strategic plan, which is normally for a five years or more and is used to set the critical success factors for merchandising in terms of sales, margins and stocks. Next in a channel sales budget to take into account the effect of the new channels, new stores, closures, and refits. In simple words merchandising planning is a systematic approach and aiming at maximizing return on investment, through planning sales and inventory in order to increase profitability. It does think by maximization sales potential and minimizing losses from marked down and stock cuts.
h) Range planning: Begin with assortment plan. In assortment plan, the goal of merchandise plan are divided into specific lines and such a way that the division results in the increase of overall marginal mix. Then a distributions planning in done. The link between available physical space and ranging done here is a key determinant of merchandising performance.
ROLE OF VISUAL MERCHANDISING
Visual merchandising is an artistic method to ensure that retailers merchandise moves off the shelves faster. It’s a tool to appeal to the visual sensory elements of the customer. Visual merchandising is an unknown skill which is fastly becoming popular nowadays with the introduction of self service in retail stores in recent years and the number of changes taking place in super market merchandising methods, there has been increased emphasis on the kind of store layout, store building, fixtures, and equipment, color displays, silent communication tools, window display and finally opinion building through in store displays which has taken the art of retailing the higher applications frames.
Customer expects to spend less time for shopping and prefers one step multi brand retail formats and hence significance of visual merchandising is on increase. As per the opinion of Hemendra Mathur, senior consultant of KSA technopark based on the third annual consumer outlook study that the consumer is getting time saved and the time spent on shoppin (both grocery and non grocery) has come down. Further the study reveals that are increase in the impulse and unplanned purchases in the certain categories. Visual merchandising helps in the increase of impulse buying.
The practice of a visual merchandising is negligible in durables and home textiles and in the apparel and foot wear it is 20%. Many people experience in organized retailing are of the opinion that innovative application for effective retail presents and brand buildings are being used aggressively by companies in retail merchandising. Brands like Reebok spent 25% of their advertising spent on point of sale merchandising. The brand managers of Reebok feel that 80% of the buyers are influenced by the 3 feet experience i.e, point of sales material and visual merchandising are more effective than outdoor displays and advertising.
Market analysis feel that most companies are unfortunately not spending as much time and money as they should on POS (point of sales) visual merchandising as a strategic tool for brand building, indiscriminately “displaying everything rather than displaying selectively and effectively to assist consumer in taking decisions.
Visual merchandising helps in:
a) Establishing a creative medium to present merchandise in 3 D environment, with which a long lasting impact and recall value.
b) Combining the creative, technical, and operational aspects of a product and the business.
c) Educating the customers about the product/services in an effective and creative or innovative manners.
d) Drawing the attention of the customer to enable him to purchase decisions in the short space of time and this augmenting the selling process.
SCOPE FOR CAREER DEVELOPMENT
Retail business analysts feel that the average spending on POS and merchandising displays is RS. 1000 per square foot in the organized retailing whole size is Rs. 14,000 crores of the total (both organized and unorganized is Rs. 11,00,000 crore. Further analysis reveal that the multi brand retail formats (hypermarket) are storing 35% growth rate per annum which is the storing indicator for the bright and huge scope. For the visual merchandising professionals who have experience in designing effective store layouts, color displays, the use of creative silent communication skill tools, creative window display, and in store displays. The curriculum of visual merchandising includes generally the following fields:
a). Creative art.
b). Specific application to retail.
c). Techno commercial planning and execution.
Students of management looking for employment can find opportunities in departmental stores, super markets, malls, and hyper markets as visual merchandiser. Further those who have entrepreneurial streak can look for event managers or interior designers professionals.