Merchandising Tour: Use mannequins effectively by cross-merchandising

The use of mannequins is always a good way to show how clothing will actually look on a real person. To make the display more interesting, and to help tell a visual story, Cloudveil cross-merchandised the clothing with equipment items. SNEWS Merchandising Tour leader Sharon Leicham offers tips taken straight from the floor of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market.
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What does the term "added value" mean to you? Add-on sales? Better customer service? Increased margins? For those in visual merchandising, it means the sell-through that is achieved through the art of display. Well-conceived product presentations sell merchandise. It's a fact. And one of the best places to get visual merchandising ideas is at trade shows.

This year's Outdoor Retailer Summer Market featured a series of visual merchandising tours of exhibitor booths, sponsored by Outdoor Retailer, pointing out the product displays that could easily be translated in the retail store. In this series of Merchandising Tour columns, we discuss the best ideas found during the tours, why they captured our attention, and how to adapt them to the retail environment. The ideas apply to a broad range of products, companies, brands and segments, too.

There's also something in this for you, our readers. We want to know how you applied tips and suggestions from our Merchandising Tour article series in your own store. Send SNEWS® your images and a paragraph or two explaining what you did, and you'll be entered in a contest to win free lodging at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2010.

One of the best display examples in our afternoon Merchandising Tour session was found in the Cloudveil booth. The entire back wall of the booth, which faced the aisle, was devoted to a vignette of the company’s clothing. It was a display that could easily be recreated in a retail store window or inside the store, and it illustrated some important merchandising techniques.

The use of mannequins is always a good way to show how clothing will actually look on a real person. The Cloudveil display utilized two freestanding child-sized, full-body mannequins and six adult torso mannequins that hung from stands. Both types of mannequins work well and are a bit more cost effective to use.

Cloudveil grouped wooden cubes in two different sizes and placed the mannequins on top to create a variety of heights. Instead of lining the mannequins up in a single row, the company placed the shorter mannequins in the front and the taller ones behind. Varying the height and depth of items on display is a basic display technique and serves to make displays more visually appealing.

Cloudveil created a "story" by coordinating the mannequins by colors. For example, the four mannequins in the center of the display sported garments in the blue/green color family. They became the focal point of the display. To the right, two mannequins wearing green in different tones complemented the color story. To the left, where the more technical clothing was displayed, yellow and red became the story. It's important to create a focal point in the display and persuade the viewer’s eye to move from that point to every item in the display. Overlapping items achieves this, as does coordinating colors.

To make the display more interesting, and to help tell a visual story, Cloudveil cross-merchandised the clothing with equipment items borrowed from other manufacturers. Footwear was used to complement the more casual clothing, while packs, ice axes, helmets, climbing hardware and harnesses suggested uses for the technical apparel.

The display was set off nicely with a giant photo backdrop of an outdoor scene. It sold the experience and gave Cloudveil a canvas on which to reinforce its brand name.

The Cloudveil booth was just one of more than 15 booths visited during the merchandising tours. Each booth created interesting visual displays and all of them took a different approach. When doing personal shopping, be on the look-out for display ideas. Snap a shot of them and keep a file for future reference. Inspiration is found in the most unusual and surprising places. Ideas are fodder for the imagination and will make creating effective and interesting displays a whole lot easier and much more fun.

Join Sharon Leicham, author of "Merchandising Your Way to Success" and merchandising editor for SNEWS®, during Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2010 for the second Outdoor Retailer Merchandising Tour program, co-sponsored by Outdoor Retailer and SNEWS. These hour-long merchandising tours of select exhibitor booths and displays give retailers an unprecedented opportunity to tap into Leicham's 40 years of experience in merchandising with manufacturers such as Specialized Bicycle Components and Sierra Designs. Email merchandisingtour@snewsnet.com to put your name on a contact list for more information and priority scheduling for the Outdoor Retailer Merchandising Tours, Winter Market 2010 -- spaces are limited.

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