The Indian retail industry is one of the most dynamic and fastest-growing sectors in the world. Visual merchandising performs a key role in enticing the customers in the retail store, thereby. helps in increasing the sales of the store and to succeed in the competitive marketplace. Impulse buying is an important factor in visual merchandising. It arouses the consumers’ desire to buy the product which has been presented in an exciting & impressive manner.
In this investigation, the impact of visual merchandising on the impulse buying behavior of consumers is studied in the Coimbatore region, Tamil Nadu, India, and the results are interpreted statistically to understand the significance of various factors affecting the attitude of the customers in buying. The results of this work suggest that all the elements of visual merchandising – window displays, store interior, mannequin display, and signage have a positive impact on impulse buying according to the perceptions of the people in the Coimbatore region, Tamil Nadu, India. Among all the four elements, store interior has the highest positive impact on impulse buying behavior.
- 1 INTRODUCTION
- 2 Functions of visual merchandising
- 3 Visual Merchandising Impact – A Multi-Stage Process
- 4 TECHNIQUES IN VISUAL MERCHANDISING
Visual merchandising is the art and science of presenting products in the most visually appealing way, emphasizing communication with the customers through images and presentations.[ Hyunjoo Oh, JennyPetrie, 2012]. Visual Merchandising is a technique commonly and rightly called “Silent Salesman” and is widely used in the market to increase footfalls and attract shoppers and make shopping a pleasant experience for one and all [ Kaur Amandeep, 2013]. Visual merchandising is: ‘one of the visible, systematic, logical and intelligent ways of putting the stock on the floor. Visual Merchandising is offered to the customer from the exterior of the store to the interior of the store. Visual merchandising is a tool to increase sales and influences customer decisions to buy the products [ Rao Rama, Mopidevi, Lolla Sree Rama, 2013]. The visual merchandising display is the presentation of merchandise at its finest. The display is the glamour, the spark, the stage, the oomph, and sparkle that surrounds a store and makes the consumers stop, look, and buy what has been placed together with care and presented with skill. Visual merchandising displays use creative techniques in order to save both the salesperson’s and the shopper’s time by making shopping effortless [ Yolande Hefer & Michael.C.Cant, 2013]. According to research conducted by Marta Gigola [Marta Gigola, 2013] visual merchandising motivates more efficiently.
- Women(91%) than men(13%) to buy apparel
- Younger people(90%) than elder(48%) to buy apparel
- Individuals with higher incomes(100%) than those with lower incomes(25%) to buy apparel [ Marta Gigola, 2013].
Functions of visual merchandising
Visual merchandising helps in :
- Educating the customers about the product/ service in an effective and creative way.
- Establishing a creative medium to present merchandise in a 3D environment, thereby enabling long-lasting impact and recall value.
- Setting the company apart in an exclusive position.
- Establishing linkage between fashions, product design, and marketing by keeping the product in prime focus.
- Combining the creative, technical, and operational aspects of a product and the business.
- Drawing the attention of the customer to enable him to take purchase decision within shortest possible time, and thus augmenting the selling process.
- Make it easier for the customer to locate the desired category and merchandise.
- Make it easier for the customer to self-select.
- Make it possible for the shopper to coordinate and accessorize.
- Recommend, highlight and demonstrate particular products at strategic locations.[ Gudonaviciene Rasa & Alijosiene Sonata, 2015]
Visual Merchandising Impact – A Multi-Stage Process
The impact of visual merchandising is a multi-stage process. It is the one that affects the growth of motivation to buy the apparel. The first stage of the process includes noticing the apparel. Here the key role is played by sight. The second stage is the creation of the definite consumer’s attitude towards the specific apparel. The third stage is the desire to buy the apparel. The last stage of the process is the purchase of the apparel which finally meets the consumer needs [Marta Gigola, 2013].
TECHNIQUES IN VISUAL MERCHANDISING
Visual merchandising consists of mainly two techniques; interior and exterior displays, also known as in-store design and window displays. The goal of these two techniques is to attract the attention of consumers, entice them into the store, keep them in the store as long as possible, and influence purchasing decisions.
In-store visual merchandising can be used to capture the attention of consumers whilst they are in the store, which is essential in the buying decision-making process. To capture the attention of the customer, the retailer must consider the customer’s needs during this process. Factors that contribute to the overall in-store design include; the store layout, store design, point of purchases displays, item display, assortment display, and signage [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_merchandising (accessed on 26.12.2016)].
The shop interior is a significant part of merchandising because designing a modern retail store can affect the profit and image of the brands. Designing a shop interior is the art of planning because it is a creative process. It is the art of drawing, composing, and selecting colors, materials, furnishings, and accessories to enrich the design of a store interior. The main purpose is to create an attractive shopping environment and to enhance the presentation of merchandise. Creating a distinctive image should be the main task of a designer because such an image will create brand recognition which will be immediately perceived by the consumers. In today’s competitive retail environment, fashion retailers struggle in order to increase their sales and to carry their brands to the wider masses. The best way to achieve this purpose is to consider the architectural and interior design [Yolande Hefer & Michael.C.Cant, 2013].
The use of mannequins to exhibit merchandise is of great importance. The word “mannequin” comes from the Dutch word Manneken, literally meaning ‘little man’. A mannequin is an assembled model of the human body used by retailers to demonstrate their products, especially to exhibit the draping of apparel. Mannequins help a retailer in many different ways. As and when a new fashion trend hits the market, they are the first ones to showcase it. It is through them, one gets to know about the latest collections of clothing that have arrived at a particular store. Mannequins also give an appeal to the product while letting customers know how a particular piece of merchandise would look once worn. This helps them to procure a piece of merchandise quickly. According to the study conducted by Vinamra Jain, Ashok Sharma and Pradeep Narwal [Jain Vinamra, Sharma Ashok, Narwal Pradeep, January 2012], 45.33% of the women get an idea of what they should buy only after looking through the mannequin display and 45.33% of women to rely on the mannequin display. Whenever they see a new style or design on a mannequin display, they tend to buy it.
Point of Purchase Display
Merchandise must be visible, easy to access, and there must be a range of merchandise to choose from. Having visible merchandise is essential for retailers as consumers to not only “buy what they see” but are also able to tangibly engage with the physical product. This creates an emotional connection, which can drive the customer to purchase the product. Considering these elements, merchandising gives the customer a sense of freedom of choice. Arranging stock, so it is not overcrowded and limiting the amount of merchandise on the shop floor, is an important aspect of merchandising. Over-crowded stores can create a sense of stress and anxiety, which does not encourage the consumer to shop the entire store [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_merchandising (accessed on 26.12.2016)].
The atmospherics also have a large influence on the store environment. Atmospherics should all coordinate with each other to create a consistent ambiance and positively influence the consumer’s shopping experience and buying decision-making process. Four dimensions of store atmosphere are visual (sight), aural (sound), olfactory (smell), and tactile (touch). Visuals such as light and display are not always enough to enhance the overall ambiance of the store, and retain customer attention; therefore, other elements such as music and scents can be used [Laurent Hubrechts & Beyhan kokturk, 2012].
Lighting is another element of visual merchandising. Lighting is essential in calling attention to merchandise in a display. A shopper’s eye is drawn automatically to the brightest item or area. Lighting treatment may be used to draw attention to the part of the display area or to coordinate the parts of the total display area. The choice of the right lighting in fashion stores should be well considered. There are numerous products that offer many choices for the shopping environment. Lighting deals with creating an ambiance and making environments visually pleasing. The cheapest and most effective starting place in getting attention and recognition is with good lighting [Yolande Hefer & Michael.C.Cant, 2013]. Good lighting can guide the customer’s eyes, reveal the color and cut of the merchandise, show the styling and tailoring details and emphasize the good qualities of the outfit, helping the merchandise to be pre-sold to customer [Gudonaviciene Rasa & Alijosiene Sonata, 2015]. The strategic use of light can change the mood of a consumer and affect their subconscious mind during their shopping experience within a retail store. A retail store with a soft ambiance and bright lights highlighting certain products will drive the customer towards these products and motivate them to make a purchase [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_merchandising (accessed on 26.12.2016)].
Exterior window displays can be used to sell products and entice customers into the store. An eye-catching, innovative window display can promote the brand image. It can be used to advertise. Windows can give consumers and by-passers an understanding as to what goods are sold in store. They are also an effective way of promoting fashion trends and providing useful information to the target audience [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_merchandising (accessed on 26.12.2016)].
The display window is accepted as the most important part of the store design because it is the first meeting place the customer has with a brand and it gives passersby a quick impression of the store. A passerby can hold an opinion about the type of merchandise sold inside. The layout of the display windows should not take focus away from the clothes and it should suggest a feeling. Window displays are crucial whether a store is situated in a mall or in a busy street. They are a mix of art, fashion, design, and marketing. They must compel customers to enter a store by defining a brand’s image. Today, retailers are recognizing the importance of window display as the first point of contact between the store and the customer [Yolande Hefer & Michael.C.Cant, 2013].
Window displays are used as an initial attraction to bring customers into a store and are also used as a marketing tool to communicate the brand’s image to the consumers as well as to distinguish itself from its competitors [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_merchandising (accessed on 26.12.2016)].
Merchandise-focused displays convey concrete messages and thus facilitate an understanding of merchandise itself to influence shoppers’ store entry decisions. In contrast, artistic displays convey abstract messages to induce curiosity and further encourage exploration within the store. Successful implementation of such artistic window displays can grab shoppers’ attention, provoke their curiosity and interest, effectively communicate store/brand image, and further draw them into stores to purchase [http://www.simplypsychology.org/likert-scale.html accessed on (31.12.2016)].
Customers give three to five seconds of their attention to the window display. The retailer’s visual message should be conveyed to the customer in that short period of time [Gudonaviciene Rasa & Alijosiene Sonata, 2015] The interpretations of the study conducted by Vinamra Jain, Ashok Sharma, and Pradeep Narwal state that 42% of women are attracted to the eye-catching window display and 44.67% of the women always pay attention to the different window display no matter what is being displayed [Soundariya S., Sathyan S, 2015].
Pegler suggests that people buy color before they buy, size, fit, or price. Colors say something about the kind of merchandise and merchandiser [Yolande Hefer & Michael.C.Cant, 2013]. Color is one of the most powerful tools in the Visual Merchandising segment. It is a visual perceptual property. Colors can be associated with emotions, special occasions, and gender. It attracts attention and pulls more customers into the store. A retailer has to focus on the right choice of color that would match the theme of the display.
It is not possible to satisfy everyone all the time, but it is possible to cultivate the taste of customers gradually and purposefully. The right choice of colors in the display items can turn walkers into stoppers and significantly convert them into customers. A Halloween display would require black color in the display theme. Valentine’s theme should be ruled by red color supplemented with pink and white. A display of baby accessories should reflect light shades of pink and blue colors. A Christmas display should contain colors of red, green, gold, and silver [Gudonaviciene Rasa & Alijosiene Sonata, 2015].
Graphics, Photography, and Signage
The use of graphics and photography in window displays is an effective way of communicating information to the consumer. The most common form of communication in window displays is through text and signage, especially when advertising a sale or a special. This technique is commonly directed towards price-driven customers who are constantly on the lookout for bargains. Photography can be used in a window display to enhance the theme of a window or reinforce the brand’s advertising campaigns [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_merchandising (accessed on 26.12.2016)].
For most businesses, the most cost-effective and efficient form of advertising to potential customers is on-premise signage and is a business’s basic link to customers. The purpose is to promote impulse “stop and shop,” to create awareness for the product or service for future reference and to influence purchasing decisions once the customer has stopped. The objectives of Signage are explained as 1. To assist customers in their flow across the store. 2. To lead the customers in newer sections opened in the store if any 3. Through Color and contrast, add to the visual ambiance of the store [Yolande Hefer & Michael.C.Cant, 2013].
Signage is the “silent salesperson” for the retailer and must reflect the correct brand image. Proper signage has been shown to increase the sale of an item by over 40% [Gudonaviciene Rasa & Alijosiene Sonata, 2015]. There are various types of signage. For instance:
- ‘Promotional’ signage which informs the customer about off-price events or schemes;
- ‘Location’ signage which directs the buyer to specific departments or merchandise;
- ‘Institutional’ signage which gives information on store policies, charitable events, etc., and
- ‘Informational’ signage provides product-related information like special features, benefits, sizes, price, etc.[ Gudonaviciene Rasa & Alijosiene Sonata, 2015]
Adjusting window displays based on seasonal events, calendar dates, and consumerism-based holidays such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Father’s Day can be a useful approach to encourage consumer purchasing. Choosing products that suit the season to display in the window can remind consumers to purchase gifts and provide gift ideas for the particular holiday [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_merchandising (accessed on 26.12.2016)].