When you enter a supermarket or a showroom, what are the few things that are noticeable more? The display windows, store layout, lighting design, display of product, mannequins, display at the point of sale, music, scent, interior designing, graphics, seasonal and festival displays, and many more. All these noticeable things are the strategies employed by the supermarket to capture your attention. Even if you do not intend to buy something, you just give in to the temptation, and you make the purchase. That is the power of supermarket visual merchandising.
Supermarkets and stores employ visual merchandising techniques to improve the customer experience and boost sales.
Presentation or display of products that enhances its aesthetic appeal and fascinates the customers enough to enter the store and to make the purchase is called supermarket visual merchandising.
It is a combination of art and science. It requires to comprehend the science of the retail world – understanding of the buying habits of customers, emotions that motivate the purchase, and using psychology concepts to influence purchasers.
The art lies in the presentation and display – the use of color, lights, space, type of display used, placement of products, and other visual elements.
However, the critical part is to get the right combination of science and art so that the supermarket visual merchandising strategy, when implemented, can influence both the persuadable and impulsive customers at the same time.
With so many brands available in any single product category, the competition for grabbing customers’ attention is aggressive, and therefore, the in-store product placement is a key strategy. Furthermore, it is not only about getting the attention of customers for a single purchase or a one-time store visit.
The supermarket visual merchandising strategy must be so effective that it influences the customers to buy the product in multiple units and become loyal to buying it in every visit to the supermarket.
The key purposes of a supermarket visual merchandising strategy are:
The key strategies of supermarket visual merchandising include the following:
The store layout is a key factor in supermarket visual merchandising since it decides the use of the floor space and placement of the shelves that will keep customers for a longer time in the store. The choice of the right store layout depends on the store size, the types of products to be displayed, and the target customers for those products.
Furthermore, retailers can calculate the sales per square foot due to the use of store layout, which enables them to change the layout if the desired sales are not achieved.
Retailers have the option of choosing a straight floor plan, which gives a view of an organized flow and is economical to use. Other options are loop plan, angular floor plan, geometric plan, and free-flow plan.
The floor plan also depends on the thought of retailers behind leading the customers in a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction inside their stores. Based on the direction of the movement of customers, retailers decide on the placement of new arrivals versus the usual existing ones.
Placement of shelves
The placement of shelves is a crucial decision in supermarket visual merchandising. Two shelves must not be so far from each other that customers have a lot of free time while moving from one to another while they must not be close enough that customers are bumped from behind while having a look at the products.
In the case of supermarkets, where customers find their entire daily needs products, different shelves must have different categories of products so that customers can see all the brands of a product category in a single shelf that enables quick decision-making.
The use of proper signage is essential in supermarket visual merchandising since it gives direction to the customers to reach the shelf with the product categories that they are looking for.
This enables the customers to help themselves when finding a product and not be dependent on a salesperson as this may lead to waiting time, which eventually results in loss of sales.
Getting the products to the store is still easy; however, the difficult part is to place it strategically for maximum sales.
Supermarket visual merchandising is a critical decision since retailers are required to think about what products require huge space, what products have multiple brands available that will increase the competition.
Further, they also need to pay due consideration to products that are seasonal and will require replacement when the season is finished, and the new products that require higher visibility.
If planned correctly, supermarket visual merchandising results in amplified product volumes, high conversion rates, increased transaction values, and hence better productivity for the supermarket as well as the brands and products in display.
Placing the high-value products and high-usage products on the central aisle catch the customers’ attention and result in increased sales. Placement of almost-forgotten products or low-value items that are not so essential near the queuing for bill area helps in the sales of such products.
Volume of products
One crucial factor in supermarket visual merchandising is how many products to put on the display on a specific shelf. For a high-end retailer, it is best to keep a lesser number of products on the shelves while for daily use products, keeping too many product options on the shelves increase the sales.
Another thought is that if there are too many products, customers get confused and lose interest, while if the products are too less, customers feel the dearth of options for them to select. It is a critical question but does not have a standard, clear-cut answer.
In the case of supermarkets, the quantity of products is always high so that customers always feel that the products are in abundance, and the retailer is not required to fill it up again and again.
Product display on shelves
The placement of products at eye-level helps increase the sales of that product. There is less likelihood of customers bending or getting on their toes to search for a particular brand/product; therefore, the placement of high-value products at eye-level increases the bill amount.
Another argument is to keep the more frequently purchased products or the more popular ones at the bottom since they will anyways be sold while supermarkets-owned brands or special offer products are placed at eye-level to increase its propensity to sell.
One of the most critical strategies of supermarket visual merchandising is cross-merchandising. It is defined as a strategy of keeping the complementary goods together so that customers feel the need to add that product in their baskets.
Moreover, this strategy is a way to tell customers what works well with the product they are already buying. For example, chips and cold drinks or dishwashing detergents and gloves are complementary products and if customers buy one, attracting them by placing the other nearby helps increase the basket size.
Product display updates
Another key strategy is to update the displays frequently, specifically when new products arrive in the store. The frequency of change depends on the types of products being sold, the discounts available on various products, and the time spent by potential customers in just looking at the products.
Generally, for daily use products sold in the supermarkets, customers like it when the display does not change much often so that they can just go and grab their needed things with ease in the minimum time possible.
Look and feel
The look and feel of a store is a critical component of a supermarket visual merchandising strategy as it influences the customers’ decision to stay in the store or just leave.
The look and feel of a store results from the color and texture, the lighting in the store, and the use of empty space.
Colors are what attract customers to the product displays since they form the atmosphere of the store. However, just any color for any kind of product is not the right strategy.
For some products, a monochrome color works well, while for some products, a right combination of related colors or contrasting colors makes the display a success.
The retailer needs to think about the color used in combination with the type of product, the store exteriors and interiors, and the product packaging.
The type of lighting used for the entire store and the display shelves are important in framing customers’ first impression of products.
The type of lights used creates a feeling of either mystery or curiosity or clarity or warmth in the customers’ minds regarding the product.
What area of the store requires brightness and what area can do with a dull light or shadows is a key decision to be taken while deciding about supermarket visual merchandising strategies.
Use of the empty space for story-telling
Most of the retail stores have empty spaces between the ceiling and the displayed products. Using this empty space is of paramount importance for the retailers.
Retailers can use it to display detailed information about the product or customer testimonials or a pictorial presentation of the actual use of the product.
However, the key here is not to bore the customer with an excess of information or clutter the space so much that customers are repelled.
The information must be crisp and clear in bullet points or graphics and must facilitate a buying decision.
Marketing to the other senses
Supermarkets keep food items, beverages, personal care, and other household items that appeal to not only the visual sense of a potential customer, but also the sound, smell, taste, and touch.
These senses also influence the look and feel of the store, and retailers can innovate in these to bring a difference to customers and thereby increase sales. The use of each of these senses can be seen as follows:
The chief challenge for a supermarket is to make the space as must customer friendlier as possible so that it influences their purchasing decision within the time they spend in the store.
Therefore, the fundamental concern for retailers must be to make the supermarket visual merchandising attractive enough to stimulate the customers’ buying behavior and result in the final purchase of the product.
The supermarkets must be clever enough to place products in a way that it finds a name in the customers’ ‘to buy’ list, and if that is not the case, then the visual appeal must be such that customers are bound to go beyond their ‘shopping cart’ list.