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What is Visual Merchandising? Techniques & Benefits in Retail Stores

With the rise of e-commerce as a mainstream option, brick-and-mortar stores are having to work harder than ever to remain competitive and retain customer interest. Visual merchandising is one of the strategies that can be used to increase in-store traffic, boost sales and improve customer retention.

It involves optimizing every aspect of the store environment, from signage and product displays to lighting and sound to draw customers in, make them feel comfortable and encourage them to make purchases. It plays a crucial role in enhancing a store’s appeal, atmosphere and customer experience.

The importance and benefits of visual merchandising

The environment a customer is in affects the purchasing decisions they make. Factors such as a poor layout can deter customers from returning because it is confusing and detracts from their enjoyment of the shopping experience. It’s in retailers’ best interests to create an efficient, customer-friendly environment that makes shopping easier for customers and increases the likelihood of repeat business.

In addition to improving the shopping experience, visual merchandising techniques can be used strategically to highlight products with high profit margins, keep customers in the store longer, and affect their mood to encourage impulse buying.

Visual merchandising techniques

Store layout

The layout determines how customers move through the store, where they spend the most time and what they see. An effective layout will encourage shoppers to go through the whole store. For example, grocery stores tend to place basic necessities like milk at the very back so that customers must walk past other items and are more likely to impulse buy. Another example is Ikea’s famously labyrinthine sales floor, which forces shoppers to walk through every single section to get to the exit.


Having clear signage is a vital aspect of a systematic, organized store environment. Signs help customers find their way, make them feel more at ease and prevent them from getting frustrated or overwhelmed.

Promotional signage can also be used to draw shoppers’ eyes to particular products and highlight their features and benefits.


As the digital transformation sweeps the retail industry, phygitalization, the integration of digital solutions into the physical shopping space, is becoming increasingly important for stores that want to remain competitive.

Digital signage

There are endless possibilities for digital signage in retail. This type of visual merchandising can be used to highlight special promotions, product demonstrations or vibrant lifestyle images that help create emotional connections with products. Some digital screens even feature interactive options that allow customers to choose their content and encourage them to input their contact information.

Electronic shelf labels

Electronic shelf labels are indispensable tools for retailers in the digital age! With digital labels, retailers can automate price updates, significantly reducing the number of pricing errors and improving customer experience. These digital price tags also include additional features such as alerting employees to low stock levels, which helps with inventory management and ensures that products remain available to customers.

Product arrangement

The way products are arranged has a significant impact on purchasing decisions. Visual merchandising techniques can be used to attract customers’ attention to specific products and encourage them to buy.

Point-of-purchase displays

Point-of-purchase displays are product arrangements and marketing materials that showcase specific items in-store. Displaying small items near the checkout counter can encourage shoppers to impulse buy, for example, and arranging complementary products together can help remind customers about extras they might need and inspire additional purchases.

Window displays

Attractive window displays are one of the main techniques retailers use to entice shoppers to come into their stores. Windows are the place to display your newest and best-selling items. You can even arrange the items to represent a story or theme to add interest. Remember to keep your shop windows spotlessly clean to make a good first impression!

Ambient elements

While often overlooked, ambient elements such as lighting, sounds and smells have a major impact on customers’ moods. It’s advantageous for retailers to optimize the ambiance of their stores and create an atmosphere that reflects their brand identify and sales goals.


Choose your lighting carefully based on what you want to achieve. Bright light creates a sense of honesty, positivity, fun, and excitement. It can promote impulse purchasing, but it also makes customers move through the store faster. On the other hand, softer lighting creates a calmer, more peaceful atmosphere and encourages customers to spend more time in the store.

You can also use lighting strategically to put a literal spotlight on products and areas you want to draw attention to.


While sound isn’t visual, it is still considered an aspect of visual merchandising because of the effect it has on shoppers. Playing upbeat music can have a positive influence on customers’ moods, while slower music can help them relax and encourage them to spend more time in the store.

The most important thing is to select sounds that will appeal to your target audience. For example, a young, hip clothing shop might opt for pop music, while a mountaineering store might choose to dispense with music altogether and play ambient nature sounds.


Smell is one of the most subconscious yet powerful senses. It can provoke emotions, trigger memories and have strong positive or negative associations. For example, the smell of fresh bread or apple pie makes complete sense in a bakery, but it can also create a delightfully homey feel in furniture and home décor stores. Seasonal scents like evergreen can help create the right atmosphere during the holidays.

Upgrade your visual merchandising for the digital age with JRTech Solutions!

Modern-day consumers are used to the vibrant, fast-paced and information-rich experience that online shopping offers. To compete successfully, brick-and-mortar retailers need to include digital tools in their visual merchandising strategy to help recreate that experience in store.

JRTech Solutions is a leading supplier of electronic shelf labels and digital signage in North America. Not only can our digital pricing solutions contribute to optimizing the in-store environment, but they also drastically reduce labour costs by eliminating the need for employees to manually change every price tag, poster and sign. Contact us today to take your in-store experience to the next level!