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Ways to Create Displays That Have High Visual Impact
DotActiv TeamMar 5, 2018 10:36:46 AM8 min read

5 Ways to Create Displays That Have High Visual Impact

It’s a well-known fact: people perceive the world through their senses. You only need to look at how people shop for proof. They buy with their eyes first, drawn into stores that are visually appealing. Knowing that, which retail store wouldn’t want to create displays with high visual impact? The answer should be obvious: none.

In the retail industry where the rivalry is fierce and margins tight, you can’t afford to give your competition an edge.

With that in mind, we take a look at a few ways in which you can create displays that have a high visual impact, and in so doing, draw your customers into and through your stores where they’ll fill their baskets.

1. Choose the right display for your products

In a previous article on retail shelving, we pointed out that choosing the wrong shelving for your products can end up costing your business. We mentioned that point in another article around those shelving mistakes you need to stop making, adding that your shelves also need to match your retail brand.

The same goes for your retail displays.

Choosing the right display comes down to understanding the product that you’re promoting. For example, if you want to promote Milk, you wouldn’t have to do much to attract attention. That’s because it’s a product that your customers buy habitually. In that case, you’d merely need to place your display in an easily accessible location and wait for your customers to shop it.

Milk on Promotion.jpg

Clever use of lighting draws attention and the purple price background indicates promotion immediately.

Just a word of warning though. You must guard against the problem of floor congestion by implementing a data-driven store floor plan.


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On the other hand, if your product was a niche item, such as camera equipment, you’d be better served if you create a display that sells the lifestyle of anyone who uses it. Since many people dream of getting away from the rat race and living free for a while, a TV on a custom-made stand showing all the adventures people have had with the product makes for an effective display.

Not only does it attract potential customers to see what is possible if they buy the product, but it gives them something to aspire to.  

You’ll also note that of the two examples, neither would cost you too much to set up. In that is an important point. A retail display doesn’t need to be expensive to be effective.

2. Dress your displays and gondolas appropriately

Once you’ve chosen the right display for your product, it’s all about dressing it up. More importantly, it’s about dressing it appropriately. And in most cases, less is more.

Let us explain.

There is no harm in making a display fun and interactive to draw your customers in. However, it should still be neat and shoppable. More than that, you should avoid overpowering your customer with too much information or colour.

Let’s take a non-retail example such as a traffic intersection with 10 different street signs to illustrate our point. The human mind would find it difficult to process all that signage in one place. Now imagine a similar situation happens in your store, but instead of street signs it’s advertising shouting at your customers to buy and save on a single display. You’ll only end up confusing and frustrating your customers.

Stack Displays .jpg

Gondola ends and stack displays welcome you to every aisle at this store.

Instead, you should consider toning it down to a minimum so that it doesn’t overwhelm your customers. While displays with a high visual impact can and should be creative, they shouldn’t deviate from their core purpose which is to persuade your customers to buy your products.

3. Bulk stack your products

If you’re looking for an effective way to display your products, bulk stacking is a good way to go.

For the sake of context, bulk stacking gives your customers the impression of a better deal and encourages bulk purchasing. It can also be part of a normal gondola or used separately as a secondary display.

As for why it’s so effective at drawing attention, it’s because consumers are used to equating large stands of items with specials. Playing on this idea will allow you to create the desired effect by showing customers what is on special.

Bulk Stacking.jpg

During Valentines, this FMCG retailer created a seasonal display which drew customers as it was something different and unexpected.

Let’s say, for example, you want to get rid of old stock. As a side note, the ideal situation is to avoid overstocking on product altogether but there are certain situations where it’s inevitable. By marking the stock down and putting it in a bulk display in an area which is easily accessible, you’ll quite easily entice your customers.

That said, bulk stacking shouldn’t only be used to get rid of old stock. It works just as well for holding any promotional product. For example, you can run a ‘More for Less’ promotion on dish washing liquid where your customers can buy three 1.5L bottles at a reduced priced. That creates a sense of value for money. It also entices your customers to rather buy off the display - more money for you - than to go find it on the shelf.

A bonus in bulk stacking products is that it can entice your customers to purchase from the stand when they had initially entered you store looking for other products.

4. Choose a product grouping

A retail display with a high visual impact is one which encourages your customers to dream. They may not even know that when they first see the display but its true.

To create such a moment in your stores, you first need to choose a product grouping. Before we continue, it’s essential to note that the product groupings you decide on need to speak directly to your customer while considering their hopes and dreams.

For example, let’s presume that its the middle of summer. If you were running an outdoor sports store, a great idea for a product grouping would be to create a picnic camping display. With it, you’d have your picnic basket, a tent, gas stove, sleeping bags, mattresses and clothing. A frisbee would make a good addition if you stock it.


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If you’ve done it right, as your customers walk past the display, you’ll have piqued their interest, placing the thought in their mind that they need to stock up on a particular product. Perhaps they have their kids with them who want to interact with the display. More than that, they might even remind their parents of that camping trip that they had promised they’d go on as a family.

That said, a product grouping works just as well if you’re a clothing retailer. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to create a display as it can be used to present a particular outfit. Just think of the mannequins you see in window displays or on the edges of the clothing departments. The outfit wouldn’t only consist of a shirt and jeans and shoes for example. It would also include accessories such as a necklace and handbag if it’s part of the ladies’ department.

If it was part of the sports department of that same store, it could include a sports bag, water bottles, sweat bands and equipment specific to the sports clothes on promotion.

It all comes back to setting the scene and placing your customers at the heart of it  - a sure sign of a good retail display - so they’ll have an idea of what they could look like if they bought your products.

5. Use your store lighting effectively

Lighting, and the effective use of it in your stores plays a far more crucial role than you might think. Get it right and you can draw attention to specific products in your stores and entice your customers. Get it wrong, however, and you can expect a customer to walk right past the display you’ve spent valuable time building.

There could be two reasons why a customer would walk right past a display that has inadequate lighting. Either they don’t see it or its too dark and thus uninviting. Of course, too bright and you’ll blind your customers.  

That said, there are some instances where lighting isn’t that effective. For example, don’t put lighting over the sweets aisle to highlight a regular packet of chips. That’s because your average consumer won’t rate the product as something special.

Instead, it would be better to consider focusing on a high-end chocolate brand that has released a new product. In fact, it could be as simple as a new flavour for a popular chocolate brand.

In that there is a lesson - for lighting to be truly effective, it must be partnered with the right product.

At the same time, you can use lighting to brighten up your promotions, as you’ll have seen in the milk promotions image above. You can also use lighting to enhance a specific environment, set dramatic scenes and create focal points that draw your customers in and keeps them in your store for longer.

As for what it could look like in an average store, let’s take the example of a retailer who has a groceries department as well as a bakery. For the groceries department you might consider using white lighting since research shows that it makes areas seem more spacious. Meanwhile, for your bakery, you’d be better off using warmer colours that encourages shoppers to linger.


DotActiv Team

The DotActiv team comprises category management experts lending their retail experience and knowledge to create well-researched and in-depth articles.