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Retail Greatness Blog

20+ Tips for Better Merchandise Displays

Is your merchandising team paying enough attention to store displays? They should. Several years back, a study by Marketing Support, Inc. and Leo J. Shapiro and Associates revealed that about one-third of all consumers make an impulse buy every week, at a median purchase of $30. And store displays contribute significantly to impulse buys. Merchandise displays can do everything from resuscitate a slow mover to propel a new product into a must-have.

20+ Tips for Better Merchandise Displays

What's the best approach to managing displays?

Well, the first tip is to actually FOCUS. Don't simply throw a display together anywhere on the floor because your client needs to move some product. Think about every aspect of the proposed display – location, products, signage, props – and how they combine to make a winning display that will get results.

Incorporate technology when possible. People like to interact when they shop, and nearly everyone is comfortable with digital devices, so use a touchscreen monitor or post QR codes they can scan with their mobile phones. A more engaged shopper is more likely to buy.

Those are just a couple of things to keep in mind when you're creating a display. Here are quite a few more:

  • Multi-product displays: combine products that make sense and yield bigger purchases. For example, pair snacks with beer for a football-party themed display (more on themes in a moment).
  • Display combined products based on use, such as making a cup of coffee.
  • Feature attractive color palettes. Use related or contrasting colors throughout the display (strongest combinations tend to be red, white, and black)
  • Display related products together in a themed way. When building a product display look for products that are natural add-ons to the main product featured.
  • Apply the elements and principles of design in your displays. Focus on linear appeal, shape, size, spacing, color, and texture. Depict novelty, variety, harmony, unity, balance, proportion, emphasis, and pattern in your design.
  • Take advantage of themes. The most popular are seasonal and holiday-related, but special events can work well (Super Bowl, local festival, etc.) or even popular culture (Star Wars or the Ice Bucket Challenge). Fathers’ Day, Mothers’ Day, Teachers’ Day, Valentine’s Day, anniversaries and other celebrations all make good theme ideas.
  • Keep in mind your demographics. Choose merchandise display space and expenditures appropriately to meet their customers' needs. If the majority of foot traffic is teen girls, your displays should target their interests.
  • Keep small items displayed in a way that allows customers a good look without having to engage store staff.


Here are some rules to follow once the display concept has been established:

  • Be sure to stack products in a layered way, with several height levels and enough product so a customer can pick up an item without disturbing the entire display.
  • Avoid "Do not touch" signs. They can turn off customers and reduce sales.
  • Light your display, if possible, and adjust lighting to feature the entire display.
  • Keep messaging simple. Add a few well-placed signs that convey action, fun, excitement, and other positive outcomes. Make sure that signs are short and easy to read.
  • Pay attention to surrounding details when placing your displays. For example, dark backgrounds can affect visibility when viewed through a window because the glass can behave like a giant mirror, obscuring many of the elements in the display.
  • Don't overcrowd your displays. Customers may move right past a busy-looking display. Feature a single item or two and use the display to draw the customer's eye to the featured product(s).

Now here are some tips for managing displays:

  • Change displays monthly. Feature holiday arrivals as early as reasonable.
  • Avoid rotating new merchandise into an existing display. This confuses people and irritates your clients!
  • When a season or holiday passes, use the display space to feature a new item. Give the area a fresh look.
  • Don’t feature best sellers in a display. Customers are already purchasing, and they know where to find them.
  • Move existing displays around in the store when new merchandise comes in. Use a two-week timeframe as a guide for moving displays. Move them from front to middle to back to middle to front, etc.
  • Move displays with SLOBs (slow movers/obsolete) away from entrances as soon as possible. Use those spaces for new items or create a new theme for the space.
  • Make sure pricing is displayed clearly. Customers don't normally want to ask how much something costs.
  • Make certain that the cleanliness and neatness of the display is maintained. (This SHOULD go without saying.)

Now, get out there and show them how merchandising excellence is done!

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Topics: visual merchandising field rep greatnes