Welcome to a new merchandising column for SNEWS® -- The Lizard Lounge Way. Each month, the Lizard Lounge team -- Kelsie Morrow, store manager and a Portland Art Institute professor of merchandising, Shelby Coral, head men's visual merchandiser, and Jolie Giese, the chief merchandising officer for Horny Toad, Nau and the Lizard Lounge -- will bring our readers an inside look at their merchandising laboratory. Packed with visuals, there will be something in every column, even for the most experienced merchandising eye.
Every season calls for a fresh change -- a reason to draw customers into your store by setting a tone and highlighting trends with new styles. It's like a first date where you want to make your best impression so you get a second date…minus the whole awkward goodnight kiss thing. In the end, you are looking to engage a customer in a long-term relationship, i.e., "go steady" -- or for you business buzzword folks, inspire brand loyalty.
Let's keep it simple and honest. You want to show your best merchandise and tell a story around it, with the end purpose of making a sale. A visual display should make an impression to a customer that will affect future sales. Your consumer wants to be inspired to make a purchase and wants to be brand loyal. After all, we're all looking for the perfect partner…or partners, depending on how you swing.
Start off by defining your key visual display areas, then prioritize the locations to build focal points. Every store has a few main focal points that are heavy traffic areas. Generally, for most retail spaces, these are areas of your store you see when you first walk in or the area in front of the cash wrap. These are the customer's first and last impressions and should be your main visual displays. Keep in mind, displays in main traffic areas should be changed frequently to keep the store fresh and the relationship interesting and lasting with your customer.
At Lizard Lounge, we create our main focal point with a large table. We build around it by using risers on top and below, and capped with mannequins to help tell our seasonal story. We often place mannequins on top of the table, so they are more easily seen above the main traffic on the floor. We also set the mood with great lighting.
Now for the story: Start with a simple message. For example, are you telling a casual lifestyle or athletic story? Are you conveying a single gender or a multiple gender message? Story ideas come from everywhere. Is there a fall harvest festival in your community? Maybe go to the local farmer's market and build a story around the beautiful squash and pumpkins. Use a wheel barrel, a hoe and squash as props. You get the idea. Best part is, with a little creativity, building out a display doesn't have to be expensive.
Always put your best foot forward. Remember, merchandising is visual storytelling. Take your most iconic styles and make them visible by telling a story around these pieces. Complete the story with complementary merchandise items. Accessories help tell the story in a display, and also balance color and create interest and excitement.
Not sure where to start? Use these basics to get you going and build upon:
1. Dress mannequins with pieces you want to be the focal point in your merchandising, then pull other items to support these styles. Think of the mannequins as silent salespeople that provide inspiration to consumers. We created a look that is a little bit more of a fashionable tomboy inspired by fall colors.
2. Choose the most iconic pieces. You will build around these items with supporting evidence that buttress the story you are trying to evoke. The blazer is a go-to iconic piece that consumers are specifically seeking, so we focused on this iconic piece and built a professional travel story around it.
3. Use levels and risers, so the consumer's eye will travel and see the product. If everything is on the same level, people are less likely to focus on the items and be drawn in.
4. Fixtures can help tell a story. For instance, dark leather feels cozy and warm, like curling up with a good book next to a fire. White might mean a spring/summer display or maybe a white holiday display. In this example, we wanted to create a relaxed approachable and well-worn feel.
5. Carefully balance color and proportions. If you have any bright pop colors, make sure you balance the color within your display. Keep in mind that if you have one pop color, consumers' eyes will travel to this spot and probably bypass the rest. In this display, we created balance with the red, brown and yellow colors, as well as in how we hung and folded the product.
6. Keep like items together, i.e., footwear, belts, hats, etc. With enough similar items together, consumers tend to gravitate to these areas thinking, "There must be something in here for me!" We put together a few simple examples of how accessories might be displayed together.
About Lizard Lounge
The Lizard Lounge is a retail clothing store created to be a third place to go other than home or work. A place to relax, have a good cup of coffee, see the work of a local artist, listen to live music, access free Internet or play a game of ping-pong. No pressure, good service and great clothes on one hand, with beer, coffee and good music on the other. Live. Work. Play. Lounge. To find out more visit: www.LizardLoungePDX.com.