Many of us can remember a time when some of the less enlightened retailers believed merchandise would just sell itself. Some retailers lived on the assumption that it was only necessary to fill a store with commodities that might entice consumers, without paying heed to the presentation of materials, the consistency of the brand image, or the aesthetic of the shop floor.

For every customer who crossed the threshold out of curiosity, many more walked away hurriedly in search of open spaces. Advances in visual merchandising techniques have transformed shop interiors. Today’s merchandising and display systems can make the most modest store appear chic and inviting. However, all of us who appreciate the sheer commercial power of the contemporary retail display system should know how best to use it; without proper design, retail displays can turn into pointless accoutrements.

So, here are a few tried and tested ideas for retailers on how to get the best out of the retail display systems.


Level up

It’s well known that if a shop has more than one storey, you’ll have to work harder on products available on the upper level(s). A staircase or escalator left uninvitingly unadorned in-store will keep footfall resolutely confined to the ground level only, but if you can get your customers looking at that gateway to the upper level and curious about what delights await them above, they’ll follow their curiosity rather than obey their weary feet.

Consumer studies show that most people consistently avoid obstacles while flowing through stores by moving to the right. That is where your focal point displays should be positioned.

Off the wall

Don’t be afraid to be a little adventurous with wall space. Convention holds that there are three cardinal levels to wall displays: the top level for premium visibility and attracting attention, the middle level to feature product displays, and the bottom level for things like stock options. You could play around with these principles for your store concept. Take a high street shoe shop for example, where you give each shoe its own portable illuminated shelf. Each shelf is arranged horizontally and vertically like a picture frame around a central, eye-catching LED lightbox. The customer’s attention is drawn to the “frame” and the middle of the display, emphasising other product options the company wants to promote.


There are other ways of using retail display system features to excite attention, such as using a style of shelving or fixture that differs from the rest of the aisle, or introducing a striking colour scheme to highlight an item. Capturing events like Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day and Halloween can give you themes a year to build your visual displays around.

Leave the jumble sale method of merchandising to the past where it belongs. Use retail display systems strategically and imaginatively, and you’ll transform footfall into conversions.