• Natasha Rodham

Rethinking Visual Merchandising: 3 Key Steps for Retail Reopening

After being pent up indoors and isolated for months on end, everyone is craving that face-to-face interaction. With restrictions gradually lifting and the anticipation that retail will reopen throughout NSW and VIC in October, now is the ideal time to make changes to your store so you're ready to welcome back shoppers in the coming weeks.

The brands that stand out will be the ones that provide their communities with innovative ways to connect and share real human experiences.

Just how do you spark people's imaginations and deliver beyond the expected?

Safety First

The top priority is protecting the health and wellbeing of your community and team. Not only will it be critical to follow government safety guidelines to avoid the risk of being shut down, but it will also be crucial to provide a space that allows people to feel comfortable.

Requirements will run the gamut from donning face masks to social distancing and limiting the number of customers allowed in your brick and mortar. Since disinfection is critical to stopping the spread of COVID-19, retailers will also have to clean and sanitise merchandise and high-touch areas regularly.

For these reasons, it's vital that you have floor markings and clear communication – particularly where queuing is likely – and that you rethink the store layout to allow space for people to move freely.

You'll also need to adjust your visual merchandising to ensure bestselling categories are displayed front and centre, shelves are uncluttered, and that you rotate products regularly to keep newness visible to customers. You may even want to consider treating your store as more of a showroom if your customers are hesitant to engage with your product directly.

Engage the Senses

Retail buzzes with the energy of people, and we look to stores to provide a sensory experience. The critical advantage of brick-and-mortar retail trade is that customers can see, touch and feel your products.

By incorporating scents with candles and oil diffusers, setting the right tone with music tailored to your customer demographic, and using carefully considered colours and lighting, you encourage customers to immerse themselves in the brand's lifestyle fully.

It's this attention to detail that allows your customer to feel comfortable, take their time, look around and, ultimately, make purchases because they emotionally connect with your brand.

Bridging Offline with Online

Today's customers expect you to bridge the gap between in-store and online, so it's essential to create a convenient, frictionless, omnichannel shopping journey.

Just as people expect your website to offer easy navigation, they will expect a cohesive flow to the sales floor. Your store set-up should be strategic with well-lit and well-positioned products to enhance the overall brand experience.

Brand storytelling through flawless and surprising visual merchandising, including strong window and product displays consistent with your online communications, will be vital in ensuring your brand is distinctly recognisable and stands out as uniquely your own.

We know it’s been a challenging time, but following these tips will help make reopening and operating your retail store after lockdown successful.

If you’re a retailer requiring assistance with preparing your business for reopening, reach out to our team to discuss your needs.