MAKE YOUR SHOP POP: Tips, Trends and Techniques

Considering a retail revamp? Look no further. We asked some of the experts and players in the visual merchandising space to weigh in on today’s top trends. Here, we count ’em down so you can do it up.

1. Mann Up
“Make room to put mannequins in your store,” recommends Reggie Medford of Grand + Benedicts, who adds that even while out hiking, people want to look good, but may not know what good is until they see it. “To visually show people how these things look being used or on your body is important.” Between forms, partial and full-body mannequins, different sizes and styles, there are many ways to display a pulled-together ensemble. Don’t have the full-on space for these silent salespeople? A T-shirt-clad form can go up on a wall and a torso mannequin can sit atop a rounder and hang from a face out or the end of a four way. “With these smaller mannequins, you can put them up high,” Medford mentions. “Put a shelf above the wall system and put a mannequin up high. That’s something that really changes up the look of your store and shows a bit more of a lifestyle product presentation.”

2. Space Out
Another strategy for the spatially-challenged: Use fewer, higher-capacity displays. To avoid looking cluttered, Medford proposes that retailers increase their floor space by using a big workhorse, four way or any other means of merchandising more over less store. Along those lines, Displayit Inc.’s Kim Shultz adds that we’ll see a lot of stationary and rolling gondolas in terms of fixturing. “As the workhorse for showcasing product, these displays create a larger space for merchandising and selling.”

“As always, the paradox is good presentation versus sardine can storage to max out the dollars- per-square-foot of sales,” suggests Sk8ology’s Mark Schmid. “At the most recent Sacred Craft surfboard show, nearly every exhibitor was using the Surfworks V-Stand to show their latest surfboards. Bordz-Up, out of Connecticut, is making a very innovative snowboard rack with its patented gravity suspension technology that allows for both good presentation and inventory organization,” he reports, also mentioning an option for skate deck walls, Sk8ology’s patented floating display system. These space-saving solutions also speak to another trend Schmid sees, that of “retailers treating their inventory more like art than commodity product.”

3. Artful Aesthetic
“Incorporating stimulating visuals into displays,” tops the list for UDIZINE’s Kym Ben-Ivgi, who says customers are looking for more aesthetic presentations. “It is the visuals that are critical for outdoor visual merchandising to set the tone and atmosphere and provide a stimulating environment for the customer. Exciting visuals can create a vibrant environment for sports enthusiasts that stimulates the senses and appeals to this typically high-energy customer.”

“Multiple channels are attempting to draw the attention of a consumer, so the ante needs to be upped in multiple ways,” reports Founder/CEO of Merchandising Matters, Robin Enright. She suggests taking footwear off slotwalls and having some fun with its product placement, along with more playful methods of placing eyewear and socks to differentiate among choices. “Creativity is essential for the retailer that wants to stand apart. For example, rather than leaning skis or SUP boards against a slotwall, why not help them stand out with colorful graphics or high wall displays and integrate them into apparel displays? Perhaps even utilize them as works of art throughout the store. Every retail environment is different, and every store should spotlight that uniqueness and difference in its merchandising.” While it may prove more difficult at times, incorporating a found item or two can play up a store’s locality, according to Medford. “It creates an eclectic, fun look, and I think it allows that retailer to really connect with its clients in the area.”

4. Material World
“The trends that we see are gritty/earthy finishes, as well as metallic,” according to Ken Stolls, Lifestyle-Trimco. “Raw Mache, cement-style, cork and wood are all in play.” As additional examples of on-trend finishes, Stolls names distressed canvas forms, along with the company’s Grafix series that incorporates an image-transfer process. Lynn Banovez of OPTO International Inc. points out a shift to more wood and laminate casework with metal complementing the design, whereas in the past, metal has been the favorite. To achieve more of a natural look, Medford mentions forms with burlap over them, concealing the founding fiberglass—a material, he says, that’s on the decline. “A lot of people are going to polyurethane mannequins because they can easily be recycled.”

5. Conscious Construction
“People are using more natural, recyclable, renewable types of materials in their stores,” Medford reports. More than just a cool thing to do, the awareness level of and sensitivity to this subject is heightened all the time, especially in outdoor stores with customers particularly receptive to preserving the very place that affords them their activity. “Those people are active outdoor people who respect the environment, and I think if they see that a retailer is respecting that as well, then they feel better about shopping there.”

In some cases, showcasing sustainability may be simple, with a lot of the steel displays these days having lived previously as something else. “And if it hasn’t been recycled, it certainly is going to be at the end of its life,” Medford goes on. “Same thing with woods; a lot of what we’re using are woods that grow fast—bamboo, obviously, is something that’s more and more common.”

“As the action sports market continues to expand, so has the aesthetic diversity and marketing ingenuity in areas of design,” states Shultz, Displayit. “Current popular trends we are seeing revolve around reclaimed, recycled and raw materials that strike a chord with the environmentally-concerned consumer.”

Source: Action Outdoor & Bike, 2 April 2012

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