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Visual Merchandising and Window Dressing

A visual merchandiser creates window and interior displays in shops and department stores thus is essentially responsible for the ‘look’ of the retail outlet. The chief aim of a visual merchandiser is to maximize sales by communicating with the target audience and creating a positive atmosphere.

The visual merchandiser communicates directly with the target audience through their designs and creates a positive impression which in turn impacts on the sales revenue of the business. Whilst not possible to precisely measure the impact of the visual merchandiser’s displays it is accepted that they are an increasingly important element of the marketing and sales mix of a successful retail business.

The visual merchandiser works in retail outlets, which are part of a group with central support functions and in small independent shops where there is greater personal autonomy and responsibility. The activities a visual merchandiser undertakes are based on interpreting and researching a brief, creating a design, and implementation – working with the products and their props. Work organization and self-management, communication and interpersonal skills, problem solving, innovation and creativity: the ability to develop original ‘eye-catching’ concepts with the WOW factor which positively engage the target market and attention to detail/perfection are the universal attributes of the outstanding visual merchandiser.

The visual merchandiser may work in teams or alone, depending on the size of the business. In medium to large businesses they work very closely with marketing and sales teams. Whatever the structure of the work, the trained and experienced visual merchandiser takes on a high level of personal responsibility and autonomy. From understanding the goals and targets of marketing and sales departments, interpreting the Brief correctly and understanding the behaviour of target markets to creating a display with the WOW factor every stage in the visual merchandising process matters and displays have a close relationship with sales revenues.

With the globalization of visual imagery and the international mobility of people, the visual merchandiser faces rapidly expanding opportunities and challenges. For the talented visual merchandiser there are many commercial and international opportunities; however these carry with them the need to understand and work with diverse cultures, trends and fashions. The diversity of skills associated with visual merchandising is therefore likely to expand.