Category Archives: visual merchandising

Make your store “shoppable”

What the customers want to see first? Similar to your virtual store, there are certain ways of working your layout so that browser’s view what they want to see first, like new products, great promotional items or the hotlists.

One thing that hasn’t change in retail – even when online shopping is killing malls and stores – is the constant revolution of the retail environment into an appealing and stimulating platform for shopping. A few years back, I wrote an article on the importance of visual merchandising, Put Your Best Front — why good retail display increases customer traffic and sales dramatically. But with the rise of online stores like Amazon, Zalora or Lazada, you should look into your virtual store as well. Moreover, you need to synergize your offsite and onsite stores and make it “shoppable”.


It’s necessary to create a shopping environment that engage consumers’ wants and convert these desires to purchases. First, eliminate the clutter. The common mistake of retailers is the product proliferation and duplication. They rely heavily on line extensions to increase volume. They believe stocking more products on store shelves means selling more products to customers. They also increase the volume of in-store messaging and promotions. The high levels of message clutter make it difficult to navigate through the store.

The visual display dictates the overall theme of your business: the way you communicate your brand message, and the manner on how you will sell your products.

Place yourself in your customers’ shoes and adapt to what they (customers) experience when they walk through your door or browse your online store. Please note of the way your products are displayed – it should match with their journey through your shop space. What the customers want to see first? Similar to your virtual store, there are certain ways of working your layout so that browser’s view what they want to see first, like new products, great promotional items or the hotlists.

A great way of testing the effectiveness of your store design is to create buyer personas and imagine they are shopping for a specific item – follow the journey they might take, and note any difficulties you encounter. Remember, not everyone wants to casually explore your stocks – some know exactly what they want, and they want it now!

Planning an effective store layout and design is key to maximizing customer satisfaction and driving store sales. Here are the 5 key points to make your store shoppable:

1. Show the Product and Let Them Play With It

The product is the center of the shopping experience – it should be clearly visible to consumers. Your in-store display and design presentation should match the product – remember, it is what draws consumer into the store and energizes the shopping process. Product displays are not only racks, tables, or counter space; mannequins are essential to showing the complete package of outfits and image. Products should be clearly visible as consumers walk into the store and through the aisles and should be displayed at comfortable heights and viewing angles with enough lighting – use spot lighting to draw consumers to your displays.

Encourage shoppers to examine and interact with products. The MAC stores provide product testers and make-up sampling for customers to play around with. In-store make-up artists are always available to assist and teach them the proper way of using the products. Walk into any Apple Retail Store and you will notice that all of the new MacBook Pro notebooks are positioned at exactly the same angle. The tables are uncluttered and the products are clean. The computers screens are slightly angled to encourage customers to adjust the screen to their ideal viewing angle—in other words, to touch the computer! All computers and iPads are loaded with apps and software and connected to the Internet – because they want customers to see the display for themselves and to experiment with apps and to experience the power and performance of the devices. Customers in an Apple Retail Store can spend all the time they want playing with the devices and using the Internet—nobody will pressure them to leave. Now, go their website, you will have the same look and feel of their retail branding.

2. Provide Effective Navigational Aids

If you do not know where you are going, no road will get you there. The situation is similar in shopping. When visiting a store that is unfamiliar or shopped infrequently, consumers need a visual roadmap to help guide them through the assorted goods and services. If consumers don’t see the desired products and can’t find them, they immediately assume it is not for sale.


Put category signs on top of the racks where customers can easily spot them. For stores with multiple floors, provide signage near the elevators. Despite the wide assortment of the fashion items at H&M stores, the customers can still easily find what they are looking for to complement their own personal style. There are several different concepts within the women’s, men’s, teenage and children’s departments – and you can easily spot them. Several retailers have launched mobile apps as well to assist customers with in-store navigation for onsite and offsite.

3. Showcase New Items And New Ideas

Potential customers are attracted to “what’s new” and “what’s hot” — new products are the lifeblood of retailing. They attract new shoppers into the store and entice existing customers to return. They signals innovation and new trends, and influence consumer tastes. And most importantly, new products are the source of sales growth.


Make them standout and use demonstrations to attract consumer attention and communicate their unique features. The focus should be on the excitement and rewards of using the new products rather than price. A good example is UNIQLO’s use of digital signage to enhance shopping experience. As customers move through the store’s interior they enter into a multimedia experience that’s amplified by LCD video displays, arranged in video wall and video column configurations.

4. Make The Shopping Experience Convenient

Consumers often have competing demands and time constraints that limit how long they can spend shopping. They enter a store with specific products in mind and this narrows the focus of their attention. If you make it easy to locate and choose these destination items, then shoppers will have more time to browse for complementary products and impulse purchase items. This can boost the size of the shopping basket, as well as enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty.


Streamline physical navigation — the path and distance a customer must travel to purchase desired products — to increase shopping convenience. Doorways and aisles are wide enough to accommodate customers and their children, packages and bags, shopping carts, baby strollers and wheel chairs.

5. Simplify Product Organization and Presentation

Stores that offer a large selection of similar products, especially in complex or infrequently purchased categories, create a difficult task for consumers. In order to pick the best alternative, shoppers must closely examine each product, read the product packaging, or consult a salesperson to understand what each product does and how it is different from competing brands. Some shoppers are reluctant to invest significant time and effort in their purchase decision; they will simply pick whichever item is on promotion. Others will become frustrated and postpone the purchase or visit another store.

The Body Shop uses category presentation in their in-store merchandising and online product showcase. You can easily spot where the Bath & Body, Skincare or Make-up items despite the product parity available in single brand. Each category is presented and classified by source and feature.

Retailers should avoid turning love at first sight into death by analysis. When shoppers have limited motivation or ability to process information, the store should provide a small set of visually distinct alternatives where the visual differentiation reflects important differences in features and benefits. Product assortments should be defined by the variety of consumer needs satisfied, not the number of stock-keeping units. Branding and packaging should communicate real product differences, not hide the similarities between commodity products.

*updated March 5, 2019


Dr. Raymond R. Burke, Retail Shoppability: A Measure of The World's Best Stores