Merchandising Know-How: Avoiding Display Mistakes, Part I

There's an easy way to judge the effectiveness of your store's displays -- use AIDA. It's not the famous opera with its story of love, revenge and sacrifice -- although some visual merchandisers may see some commonalities. AIDA is an acronym for attention, interest, desire and action. Call attention to the display to create interest, desire and action. That's what good displays are designed to do.
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There's an easy way to judge the effectiveness of your store's displays -- use AIDA. It's not the famous opera with its story of love, revenge and sacrifice -- although some visual merchandisers may see some commonalities. AIDA is an acronym for attention, interest, desire and action. Call attention to the display to create interest, desire and action. That's what good displays are designed to do.

But too often they fall short. There are lots of reasons individual displays don't work the way they are supposed to. In the first installment of a two-part series, we illustrate a few of the more common display mistakes with a few suggestions to correct them.

Too many items in the display

The most common display snafu is trying to show too many items. A person can only take in seven pieces of visual information at a time. When walking by a window display, a person will only give it three to five seconds of their attention. If there are too many items in the window or display, it's impossible to see everything.

The solution is to keep the display items to a minimum. But, if you restrict the number of products, how are you going to sell more? The answer is simple: Change your displays more frequently -- every two weeks for in-store displays and every three weeks for window displays. If you're doing your job, your customers will be visiting your store that often -- so give them something new to see each time they return.

All items are at the same height

A boring display is one in which all the products are placed on the same level. Nothing stands out and everything tends to run together. Customers can't differentiate any one item and they move on. You've lost their interest… and a sale.

Build height in displays through the use of cubes, risers or any device that raises the merchandise to varying levels. If you're using tables for merchandising, by all means use baskets or containers on the floor to create different levels.

Nothing stands out

Too often no one item in a display stands out. It might be because everything is about the same size or, to the previous point, all at the same level. In every display, there must be one dominant product that, by its color, size or position in the display, catches the attention of the viewer.

Products on display don't work together

Bad displays that lack rhythm and don't allow the eye to move from item to item are a result of products being placed too far apart or the omission of the all-important dominant item. The downfall is customers don't see everything in the display that you want them to see.

The rhythm in a display should lead the viewer's eye from the dominant objects to the secondary objects in an "S" movement from top of the display to the bottom. This can be accomplished by the careful overlapping of items.

A successful rhythm is an unconscious one that guides the viewer in easy movements from one stop to another along the way.

All items in a row

Placing display items in a row is a common mistake. Instead of putting all products on display on the same plane, place them at different distances from the viewer to create depth and interest.

Place some objects toward the front and others a little higher toward the rear. Choose either symmetrical or asymmetrical arrangements. Symmetrical arrangements utilize even numbers of objects in even distribution. These are easy to construct and pleasing to the eye. Asymmetrical arrangements utilize uneven numbers of items placed off-center forming interesting, provocative displays.

Stay tuned for our second installment next week.

Sharon Leicham is the creator of The MerchandisingHUB, the author of "Merchandising Your Way to Success" and "How to Sell to Women" and is a regular columnist for SNEWS® writing on merchandising and marketing topics. You can access all of her columns by going to www.snewsnet.com/merchandising, where you will find tons of information targeted at the needs of the independent specialty retailer. You can email us with questions and comments at merchandising@snewsnet.com.

For more retail training support and know-how, be sure to check out the SNEWS® Business 101 tools and stories, including our 10-part Retail Merchandising Training series produced by SNEWS®, including a useful online calculator for performing the most common retail merchandising calculations -- free to All Access Subscribers.

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