visual merchandising & store design

Any retail store is made up of two separate elements – the permanent “brand box” and the “dynamic content.” Together they combine and deliver the exciting theatre that is essential for modern stores to communicate brand propositions and distinction, to drive traffic and footfall, and to generate commercial sales performance and profit.

The balance of investment between the permanent and the dynamic depends on the proposition, the market position, the brand image and the product assortment of any particular retailer however the traditional situation of higher-end brands focusing on the store environment, with value-retailers concentrating investment on a fast-changing assortment is changing.



The 24-7, 360o degree life of the customer is forcing every retailer to be more dynamic across all channels whilst lower priced retailers can see commercially how a higher investment in the store design can add value to the brand, to the product and decisively to increased average transaction values, margin and ultimately profit.

And whilst, in today’s very real and competitive markets both permanent and dynamic elements share the same pressures to deliver and prove ROI, the new environment is throwing up some interesting collaborations and all important integrations as the traditionally very different functions of store design and visual merchandising are learning to live and breathe together.

Visual merchandising has always been a mysterious art. Ask 100 retailers in a room what it is and you would receive 101 definitions. In the new era of omni-channel, international, brand theatre, social media, dynamic store communications you could now double the answer ratio. In many ways the definition, and indeed the job description and function is immaterial and individual by company, however the new flexibility and coordination of permanent and dynamic is the new essential.

In traditional store design the essential but expensive elements of lighting and flooring are still enormously important to customers and invariably score top in their preference for store experience. Increased flexibility and accessibility has allowed every retailer to create mood and atmosphere appropriate to their brand, to be creative and indulgent in highlighting product display and communication whilst using lighting strategies to deliver powerful, beautifully lit category walls, intimates accessory presentations, brand statements and flattering environments for changing and fitting rooms.

And there the boundaries, both physical and strategic, begin to blur between permanent and dynamic with increased imagination and creativity driven by the necessities and constraints of cost adding value to the permanent through the capacity to change. Enter a myriad of textures, coverings and colourings to transform quickly and cost-effectively everything from focal walls to fixtures, cash desks to window settings, specific displays to complete seasonal departments. Used in complete collaboration with the assortment ebb and flow this creative coordination successfully breaks down the tired old walls between store design and visual merchandising functionality.

Another significant area of traditional store design that is being transformed through the integration with both merchandising and display teams is the essential area of fixtures.


The frustrating gallery of store interiors where beautiful tables and rails failed to provide appropriate capacity, dimensions and flexibilities for the product they were meant to display is thankfully fading into the shadows as new technologies and materials are being combined with enlightened product appreciation leading to structures that combine brand statement with commercial display density, intricate presentation of product features with coordination POS communication.

Product fixtures are being transformed from the villain to the hero of the new store theatre!


Against this new flexible stage visual merchandising is beginning to flourish and justify every hard earned advancement in the priority and culture of many retail businesses. Wall displays use an ever growing combination of display techniques framing the assortment in its appropriate fashion position and end-use proposition – mannequins, busts and props add visual attraction and commercial impetus stimulating excitement and sales.

The product assortment is being brought to life for the customer through a combination of new technology and traditional display. Interaction through touch, sound, taste and sight allows customers to appreciate the functionality, the practicality, the beauty and the brute strength of individual products as well as the logic, reasoning and segmentation of ranges. VM leading to a choice and converting that selection into a sale.

Never before has the integration of so many diverse teams and skill sets been so important in delivering the store experience. Ironically in this omni-channel world never has the store experience been so important. Store theatre must be in the remit of “front of visual” functions such as store design and visual merchandising and also firmly within the realm of “front of mind” departments such as HR and customer service training –  for every retailer.

No stone must be left unturned in the creation of the all-important glass houses that still embody modern retail.



Our expert workshops:
Store design investment & visual merchandising theatre workshops:

VM-Unleashed’s 1-day workshop discusses all areas in the delivery of attractive & profitable stores through best practice store design and visual merchandising pracices and the integration between retail functions.

It is personalised to the audience, to the sector and to the job function and objectives of the retailer team present, however most benefit is achieved from an attendance from across retail departments and essentially buying & merchandising, visual merchandising, marketing, space planning, commercial, sales and store operations teams.

The workshop process can also include a day of client store visits and discussions leading to a review in the workshop of the client’s stores, as well as reviews and reference to competitors and current international best practice stores. The workshop itself is a combination of visual stimulation and process insights.

Every workshop is written and delivered to be as relevant and productive for each client as possible including both individual and team exercises and discussions.

The typical agenda is as below, waiting your personal additions and requirements:

  • The brand box & the dynamic content
    • The brand box – the setting of the stage
    • Important considerations of a store design
      • Lighting, ceilings and flooring
      • Using colour, focal points and internal walls
      • Fixtures for commercialism and brand
      • Service areas – tills and changing rooms
      • Store facias and windows
    • Store design strategies and refreshment
    • Investment & ROI
  • Dynamic content – creating theatre and experience
    • Visual merchandising – what it is
    • Important considerations of dynamic content
      • Display rhythms, balance and techniques
      • Busts, mannequins and props
      • Product interaction
      • Technology displays – explaining the product
      • VM display – making the product look good
      • Use of wall height for different corner formats
      • Service model & delivery
      • Staff skills & training

Different modules can be combined to create personalised workshops.

For more information:
+44 (0)7967 609849


Our specialist services:
Store Performance Audits & Analytics

“How can I assess what store elements and store touchpoints are directly relating to increased sales and other store KPIs?”


Detailed analysis of the store elements/touchpoints directly related to the sales performance KPIs

    • Examine the store layout spatial relationship between store elements and touchpoints and KPI performance in the same store area – department.
    • Examine several client test stores to identify delivery & performance relationships
    • Produce traffic light measurement of quality of touchpoint value by dept/category
    • Produce traffic light measurement of sales performance KPIs by dept/category
    • Produce correlation between touchpoint delivery and KPI performance
    • Generate “Performance Index” for touchpoints and families of store elements


    • Identify the direct relationship between store elements & touchpoints and sales performance KPIs – conversion, transaction value, items per basket, total sales…
    • Identify the element/touchpoint delivery features that stimulate performance
    • Rank impact of individual elements/touchpoints to KPI success
    • Prioritise investment on selected store elements/touchpoints by department/category


    • Selected client store visits
    • Interviews with HQ stakeholders including marketing, store design, sales, store operations, VM and merchandising
    • Interviews with store staff and “snap-shots” of customer comments/reactions
    • Detailed analysis of store performance KPIs, by department, category and spatial grouping
    • Client presentation workshop

For more information click the link
Store Performance Audits & Analytics
+44 (0)7967 609849


Our specialist services:
Category Delivery Optimisation Analytics

“How can I learn what store facets & elements to prioritise, and invest time and money in, to maximise my individual departmental and category sales performances, such as their location in the store, their level of visibility, adjacencies to other categories, their level of visual impact, signage and POS communication, the assortment grouping & presentation and the delivery of customer service for each?”


The combination of video analytics, traditional POS data and a sequential series of sales performance “before&after” tests to identify the optimum delivery of categories & departments

    • the sequential trial of new and different store deliveries measured against sales performance KPIs
    • the comparison of new store initiatives against unchanged “control” stores
    • the analysis of changes to traffic activity, dwell, stop, touch and conversion with the delivery of different physical store variations
    • the analysis of increases and decreases in attraction of traffic to areas, the engagement of customers with the area and the conversion of sales within the area


    • Identify which combination of store delivery facets and elements deliver the optimum sales performance for each department and category
    • Identify which store elements and touchpoints deliver maximum ROI in general and by category & department
    • Create the “store delivery matrix” with priority criteria for the delivery of store facets and elements by department/category
    • To develop the most profitable and commercial store layout for any store


    • Interviews with HQ and store personnel to understand the store issues
    • Interviews with buying & merchandising teams to understand assortment commercial issues
    • Category assortment analysis by major department and category
    • Visits to pilot stores and planning of video camera locations
    • Study of the traditional sales KPI patterns and trends across all stores
    • Analysis to understand the current customer behaviour and to identify priority areas of KPI opportunity
    • A progressive series of “before&after tests” by department and categories

For more information click the link
Category delivery optimisation analytics
+44 (0)7967 609849


Whether you are an established player, or a new kid on the retail block, we can probably help improve your efficiency, your expertise, your store delivery and of course your sales performance and profitability.

I look forward to hearing your questions, whether large or small.

Always expert and easily accessible.

Thank you.
+44 (0)7967 609849

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