How can an IBD implement visual merchandising?

Although some high-street stores are going through difficulties, many are adapting to changing consumer habits and succeeding, and there’s absolutely no reason why your bike brand can’t do the same. Visual merchandising has been a major selling process for many years. Perhaps now more than ever, however, executing a successful visual merchandising strategy is critical if you want your biking brand to prosper. One of the biggest challenges in getting this right is that it isn’t simply a box-ticking exercise – even if something looks pretty, it can be difficult to know whether it’s actually having an effect on your customers’ experiences, and impacting your number of sales as a result. 

In an attempt to remedy that, I have put together a step-by-step guide to launching a successful visual merchandising campaign and beginning to boost your customer footfall and profit margin.

Visual merchandising in retail
Visual merchandising is the designing of a shop floor to deliver a more engaging and exciting consumer experience that will drive sales. But there’s more to visual merchandising than just putting products in a certain place because they look nice – you need a strategy.

According to CEO Bob Phibbs, who runs The Retail Doctor retail consultancy firm in New York: “Visual merchandising is everything a shopper sees at your store that hopefully leads to a remarkable shopping experience. It is the unspoken language retailers use to communicate with their customers.”

The consumer journey depends on “getting a customer in-store and creating an effortless experience”, according to Raleigh UK managing director Pippa Wibberley. So, how can you create a seamless customer experience?

What does your customer want?
According to Mintel, the bike market is worth around £1.5 billion, with the sale of new bikes in the UK reaching around £800 million. This is a lucrative industry, which means your store must stand out.

So, which bikes do you want to display first to new customers entering your shop? A tip here is to go for what you think your customer wants, not needs. According to a study by Szu-Chi Huang and Raj Raghunathan, emotional responses are influential in our purchasing choices – which is why you should focus on giving the customer something to desire.

Place your newest, best-performing products in your focal visual merchandising displays to attract the customer looking for a treat purchase and enhance your chances of high-cost conversions. You could also use ads alongside these displays to present promotional offers for luxury items that you want the consumer to take notice of – and buy!

Colour coding your merchandise
According to Jessica Clarke, a retail merchandiser and stylist: “Things that are easy to look at will be passed over, and things that are too outlandish will be offensive to the eye.” If you stack your bikes, are you doing so with different colours in mind? Placing bikes with frames of contrasting colours at the opposite side of the colour wheel can help grab attention – think black bikes versus white bikes or cerise helmets versus lime helmets. However, making a multi-coloured display of uncoordinated colours looks messy and may turn people away.

Grouping your bikes and accessories
Whether you use a frame to stack your bikes or simply stand them up around the shop floor, you must consider grouping. A recent report found that exposing your shopper to the maximum number of products is a tactical method when carrying out visual merchandising. However, don’t make your displays look crowded. Utilise different display furniture. Why not place a bike next to a shelf of potential accessories rather than putting all bikes together, all gloves together, all helmets together, etcetera? Also, bear in mind that focal points boost sales by a reported 229 per cent, so ensure that you effectively direct your consumers when they enter your store.

You should also incorporate the ‘Rule of Three’ method, which lets you capture a customer’s eye by creating attractive asymmetry. Apparently, humans see asymmetry as normal – which means they pay less attention, which isn’t good for advertising. By placing products in groups of three, you can create a noticeable imbalance that forces the eye to take in each product individually, as opposed to the display in its entirety – excellent for effectively advertising each item.

Creating a ‘decompression zone’
Reportedly, there are 2,500 bike shops in the UK, which means you have competition to not only attract consumers, but also keep them choosing you over competitors in the industry. Have you considered creating a decompression zone to help push products? This area of a shop is found just a few feet inside the main entrance and is believed by psychologists to elevate a shopper’s mood, acclimatise them to the store’s surroundings and get them ready for the shopping experience.

You don’t want your consumers to feel negative when they’re shopping in your store – the more positive they are, the more likely they are to buy. An effective decompression zone will help transport your consumer from the hustle and bustle of outside to a calmer, more focused environment that encourages browsing. Here are decompression zone tips:

– Minimum of 10-15 feet
– Based at shop entry with a full view of the store
– Created using contrasting furnishings and colours from outside area to signal new atmosphere
– Use attractive stands, well-maintained frames and specialised lighting to highlight your newest bike and accessories ranges

Frequency and rotation
When you’ve created an incredible visual merchandising strategy, don’t let it stagnate. A major part of tactical visual merchandising is moving your presentations as new stock comes in. If customers get bored or don’t think you are up-to-date with your stock, they’re not likely to return.

What’s new or trending in the biking industry? According to Halfords, 2017 was the ‘year of the e-bike’ due to the brand recording a 220 per cent sales increase in the product. Keep your eye on the next big thing in your sector and ensure that you order these and display them using our visual merchandising tips.

According to predictions, the consumer is looking for an experience, not just as a purchase. With visual merchandising, you can ensure that your bike shop offers something engaging to keep consumers interested – so why not start planning your visual merchandising campaign today?

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