owner of visual communications agency VM Guru, market expert in visual merchandising and store design.
Visual merchandising (VM) is an important tool to increase brand sales. And in a difficult crisis period, this is perhaps one of the main marketing tools for stimulating demand, primarily because it is inexpensive. Today, most retailers agree with this statement, and this is a breakthrough. Companies invite merchandisers to the staff, train them if possible, or hire specialists with experience and hope that now their goods will be presented as efficiently as possible and sales will skyrocket. However, just the work of just a team of merchandisers in a brand is not enough to create the most commercial presentation of collections in the retail network and build a system of work as a whole.
What is needed? We need a tested system of standards for visual presentation of collections, created individually “for a brand”, which will be based on the assortment structure of the brand, sales analysis of seasonal collections, the specifics of the brand’s DNA and a typical trading concept. And to build such a presentation system on the network can only specialists with extensive experience in systemic practical work.
System work takes place in several stages:
Creating VM brand standards: development and testing, that is, measuring the effectiveness of the proposed standards.
Formalization of standards: the creation of detailed instructions - merch-book brands.
Development of a remote brand network merchandising system.
What are VM standards and how to create them?
VM brand standards are an optimal set of commercial and artistic-style visual merchandising tools that are adapted to the brand and built into the system.
To find a set of VM tools that are ideal for your product and trading concept, you just need to apply the existing laws of VM, adapting them to the brand’s features, taking into account the assortment structure and sales analytics by lines and functional-style groups that are pleasant in the company. There are about twenty key laws of the VM, and none of them can be ignored.
For example, consider two basic laws: the “grouping law" (the product is better perceived by the buyer if it is grouped); and "the law of the extent of eye contact" (the human eye can fix in a large number
2- 5 of the same type of “relatives” goods, too long a number of models exhibited equally reduces the buyer's attention). From these two laws it follows that the presentation of the product in long rows by type of assortment is not effective. That is, it is not necessary to group, for example, boots with a high boot together, boots with a low boot, etc. on the trading floor. The priority of the grouping should be completely different. And in the merchbook it is important to clearly, readily and with photo examples explain how you group the product in the brand, and these rules are already completely individual and depend primarily on the assortment structure of the brand.
Three whales of product grouping
However, there are three main priorities for grouping goods:
One model in all colors is grouped together.
Grouping of goods by the principle of "family".
Grouping by the principle of “visual family” (this is when the model does not have “relatives” goods, and we find a visual group for it, that is, a group of goods that is as close as possible in style and materials).
Your task is to group the entire product in the hall. And already the standard of the “family”: how many and which models can be considered the “family”, whether complementary products are part of the “family” - these are the individual brand standards that are important to define and register in the merchbook.
For a mass-market brand, for example, a simple grouping will be enough, when the “family” will include no more than three, rarely five, models-relatives of the same style and material. And, let's say, in a brand of the middle price segment, especially for the female line, the structure of the “commodity family” is often more complex: 5-6 of the main “relatives” models and the group of complementary goods.
Rules of individual approach
Individual grouping laws are the basis for laying out collections of any brand, and it is important to “put them on the shelves” in your merchbook. This is not easy, because several new VM rules are immediately included, which must be taken into account:
1. "The rule of cross merchandising" (when we present goods of the same / close color, crossing on two adjacent shelves / rows diagonally), which helps to visually balance the presentation. At the same time, different brands allow their own “liberties” and interpretations of this law, and it is very important to reflect all the nuances of the presentation in the merchbook.
2. “Rules for Gold and Cold Presentation Levels”. We know that in merchandising "the amount changes from a change of position of terms!" That is, goods at different levels of commercial equipment are sold in different ways. There are two “golden” trading equipment levels: “arm level” and “eye level”, at which goods are best sold. Therefore, it is important to properly build the height of your shelves (bring it to standard), and then put the key seasonal product on the hottest shelves. At the same time, one should not forget that trade equipment should not have “dead zones”, and it is imperative to work out the upper decorative level correctly - equipment located above eye level. The upper level in the trading floor does not sell, but is clearly visible from all points of the trading floor, so it has its own design specifics. It is used for image presentation of the product, decorating with seasonal images, compositions with the product, while not overloading the latter. And in order for the product from the top decorative composition to be sold, it must be duplicated right there at the commercial level. In general, there are many nuances.
Key Product Formula
It is very important to define and prescribe in the standards the “key product formula” of your brand and the ways of presenting this product on the trading floor. Be sure to ask yourself the question - “What is your key seasonal product for your brand?” For some, these are the main trending seasonal models, for some, trending and more basic seasonal models, it all depends on the assortment policy and the target audience of the brand.
The key seasonal item in the room should be prioritized. How? Taking into account the individual VM brand standards prescribed in the merchbook. If the brand is well-structured, then inside the lines there are (and they must be highlighted in the hall) functional-style groups, inside style groups - themes, inside themes - the 1-3 family. Accordingly, the presentation in the hall should be arranged in such a way that it is easy for the buyer to navigate the collections, and so that none of the topics "argues" stylistically and does not "eat" the next one.
Collection Zoning Strategy
An important part of VM standards is the strategy of zoning collections on the trading floor. It should be based on the assortment structuring system adopted by the company, as well as collection sales analytics. And here it is important to consider several priorities in the division of assortment groups at once:
Creation of the main gender and age zones in the hall (zones of women's, men's, children's collections).
The selection within each zone of the most understandable to the buyer functional-style groups (say, Casual, Smart, Sport). To complicate and create more than five style groups in the zone is undesirable; your task is to facilitate the perception of all collections by the buyer. To do this, it is necessary to show styles as “convexly” as possible, and within each style group it is correct to present the key seasonal “product families” as the drivers of your sales.
Mandatory observance of the seasonality rule: do not mix summer with winter, winter with spring, etc.
Correct commercial zoning on the trading floor is a very important and complex VM tool. Therefore, it is best to indicate the zones on the real planograms of typical chain stores in the merchbook.
So, in the chapter of your merchbook about zoning, the following points should be carefully worked out:
zoning features of shops of various standard formats;
selection of zones in accordance with seasonal sales analytics;
commercial proximity of product areas in lines;
selection of a zone for sale at different stages of sales;
work with floor trading equipment inside the zone / rooting.
There are three more very voluminous and important components of VM standards that we need to focus on, but which we will not be able to cover in this material, these are:
Sales clearance standards.
Standards for window dressing and entrance area as an internal showcase.
Remote VM management system: implementation of a seasonal VM system for interaction, reporting and control in your network; what presentations and when do the stores receive, how should they create the layout taking into account the peculiarities of their trading floors, etc. Creating and maintaining the effective functioning of the remote VM management system is a huge job that builds up in the brand gradually, over several seasons through group practical trainings of the store staff responsible for the VM.
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