Tag Archives: merchandising

‘Tis the Christmas Season! Everybody does big does displays for the winter-time to increase the holiday shopping spirit.

Here in my town we have a place called Alberta St. They are responsible for the content of this post.

My VM professor gathered six of us students to assemble window displays for Alberta St. shops for the coming Christmas season.

The children’s book store on 16th and Alberta is not only totally adorable, but rewards children for looking closely. Around the shop there are miniature displays of goings on that you would neither find nor notice unless you were observant. Jennifer, the owner, used to be an elementary school teacher and has a passion for children learning.

She showed me a Christmas tree made out of books, and I went to creating it. For $39 and some vintage ribbon my mother gave me from her own collections, this is what I arrived at:

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Christmas Book Tree

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The Landing Strip

I witnessed the need for this one today. I was in a Whole Foods grocery store to pick up some cheese for Thanksgiving. As I stood in the express line I had a perfect view of the front doors to the store. Against the front wall, directly to the left and right of the entering and exiting shoppers were two tall stacks of handheld shopping baskets. This is exactly what the book said would happen. Every customer entering the store completely ignored the baskets.

There was no decompression zone. The first 8-10 feet of any store should be left practically bare so that once the customer gets inside, they can begin to adjust to the retail environment. Most displays or products put right next to the door are ignored entirely by shoppers who haven’t had a chance to get in “shopping mode” just yet.

In a smaller store perhaps the decompression zone must be smaller, but do not place anything directly in front of the door for the first 8 feet. This is a deterrent to enter. Some shoppers will stop in front of it, look around, then turn around and walk back out.

The book refers to the space required for a shopper to adjust as the “Landing Strip”. They’ve been walking hurriedly through the parking lot or down the sidewalk, perhaps they’ve been dealing with awful weather, their thoughts were not on shopping. Then they step inside. The lighting changes, the temperature changes, the noise changes, and just in that short 8 to 10 feet they have adjusted their speed to be appropriate for viewing items on shelves and making purchases. Give your people time to recuperate, and whatever is at the front of the store will not be wasted.

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Deals at the Door Make A Businessman Poor

I’m just to page 30 of the book and I have come across a faulty mistake dozens of retailers make every day. The sale rack belongs in one place: the back, and with good reason. Many retailers during the summer will put the sale rack just outside the front door to lure people in. It gets the unsightly muss of non-cohesive merchandise off their selling floor, and gives people a reason to come up and look. However, if people find nothing of interest on the sale rack (which happens more often than not) they will never bother entering the store. If they are the type to look for a deal (which is the customer you are trying to lure inside with this rack on the street) they will rifle through, find nothing, and never come in because they believe, as they should, that everything else in the store is full-price.

On another note, tucking the sale rack just inside the front door is also a no-no. This is what was directly discussed in “Why We Buy”. The difference is that those people who do enter the store are immediately taken in by the nearby sale rack. This can go south just as fast as having it outside if they find nothing. But if they DO find something, they are much less likely to buy anything else. People don’t even bother to look around at full-price when they think they can get a good deal.

The best place for the sale rack is in the rear of the store. Not hidden and ashamed, not hard to get to, but nonchalantly in the caboose region. This way, anyone looking for a deal will at least have to look around before they come to the sale rack. It draws people inside, keeps them inside, giving a salesperson time to begin a conversation and instigate the selling process. Sale racks at the front door = less business. Simple as that.

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Expose the Tools

 Fine artists of fashion are completely underrated. It is difficult for a customer who knows nothing about how a garment is made without a demonstration of time, effort, and finances. Many are not willing to pay for a $400 belt when they can get a $40 belt that looks similar. The difference: hopefully, the $400 belt was handmade painstakingly with a superior leather and a hand-fashioned buckle. The $40 belt was probably made in China.

One of the more effective ways to convey the artistry of any business is to expose some element of the process. This picture above is inside Pinkham Millinery in Portland. PM was recently featured as one of the top 20 millineries in the world, one of only 4 in America, and the only one not located in NYC.

Inside Dayna Pinkham’s shop, she displays just one of a hundred elements of her trade: hat forms. Shelf after shelf of wooden blocks of all measurements and hat styles line the west wall of her shop. The craft is a fine one, and this way anyone who enters can see the challenge of making a hat so perfect as one of Dayna’s. This effective bit of Visual Merchandising is not only a great conversation starter with clients, but also a truthful display of the work that goes into her art.

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Greetings :)

Green field with close-up of small flowers

Hey there, just wanted to introduce myself: my name is Kelsey and I am beginning a blog about the retail industry, visual merchandising (VM), the psychology of buying, and consumerism, all in the name of preparing myself for a dream job in merchandising.

I will begin over the next few weeks with a book series written by Paco Underhill, who people-watched and literally stalked people inside stores, eavesdropping to find out what led them to that crucial decision: “To buy, or not to buy”. His first book, “Why We Buy” is no thicker than one of the Chronicle’s of Narnia, so I hope to get through it fairly fast, yet take it all in.

I am also currently a student of fashion marketing here in the beautiful and wet city of Portland, and have a concentration in digital art and VM as well as sustainability, so you will be reading a lot about that, I am sure.

Well, just wanted to get the courtesies taken care of. Now that we are no longer strangers, go ahead and like, follow, and comment to your heart’s content 🙂

Buy Bye!

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