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Seventy percent of customer in-store purchases are unplanned and motivated by impulse or emotion, giving retailers the prime opportunity to target those shoppers with a little eye candy.  According to research released by the Point of Purchase Advertising Institute, visual merchandising can make or break a business.

Visual product merchandising is the physical presentation of products. Given the high cost of retail space, maximizing your space efficiently and attractively can make a huge difference in your profit margins. Most retailers can’t afford to hire a space planner to design their retail space, but the following simple tips could command higher sales per square foot.

1. Lure window shoppers into your store

Eighty three percent of first impressions are made visually. Attractive and interesting window displays are often what bring customers into a store. Develop a theme and find a creative way to showcase your products using color, shapes, props and lighting. Refresh your window display often—at least once every other month.

2. Maximize your store’s “hot zone”

The store’s hot zone is located just inside your front door and is the first point of contact for customers. Customers will decide whether to stay or leave at this point. Make sure items are clearly visible and attractively displayed. Eye level is where customers will look first. Maximize display space by tilting shelves above and below eye level so they aren’t overlooked. Rearrange racks and shelves in this area often to create refreshed looks.

3. Make it easy for customers to find products

Products should be grouped logically so that customers can find items easily. Research shows that objects that appear in threes are more appealing, memorable and effective than other groupings, so create your product displays in sets of three—by tall, taller, tallest or by wide, wider and widest.

4. Use lighting to guide the customer experience

Using non-uniform lighting with warm, white light creates a sense of privacy as well as personalized, high-end service. Lighting can also be used to train customers’ eyes on your merchandise and to draw them throughout the store.

5. Use displays to boost incremental sales

Incremental sales are add-on purchases that result from a particular marketing activity that would not have been made otherwise. You can increase incremental sales by giving customers ideas about how to use a product and to make suggestions about related products that enhance the main purchase.  You can also use displays to move discounted products by grouping them with complementary products. Placing discounted flavored coffee syrup with coffee makers or a discounted scarf with the latest blouse are some examples you might consider.

Visual merchandising is about being creative and keeping product and displays fresh and interesting. If you’re ever in need of inspiration, try using these search phrases on Pinterest:

- Visual merchandising ideas

- Visual merchandising displays

- Creative merchandising ideas