Fortunate is the Highly Successful Retail Manager (HSRM) who has a solid background in visual merchandising!
The HSRM who does not have that background or who does not consider himself a creative individual must, nevertheless, develop a flair for visual merchandising or visual presentation.
Most retail companies have individuals, at the Head Office, whose main responsibility is to plan how the merchandise will be presented in the stores.
Those individuals are usually well qualified in the art of visual presentation.
The HSRM, however, must be able to interpret the plans and make appropriate adjustments where necessary and must ensure that his team members are capable of doing so to some degree.
Once the plans arrive at the store it is anyone’s guess as to how the plans will be executed.
This is where the HSRM’s knowledge of visual merchandising and the discipline he has instilled in his team come into play.
The HSRM, has a degree of comfort knowing that his team will execute the plan well because he has coached them every time something unusual came up.
Now they are much more able to interpret the plans and to make any necessary adaptations.
Visual merchandising is something that comes easier to some HSRM’s than to others but, all of them, found that it was beneficial for them to have that ability as they find it critically important to their business.
If visual merchandising is not one of your natural talents, then practice is the best way to learn the skills.
Some managers avoid getting involved with things that they are not really good at but visual merchandising is something that cannot be avoided.
The HSRM’s said they built confidence by doing it themselves and, over time, developed the skills needed.
Because HSRMs surround themselves with competent people, most of them find that there are individuals on their teams that have outstanding talent in visual merchandising and they call upon those team members to help and bring their expertise to others.
In addition to practice, the HSRM seeks out training opportunities when it comes to Visual Merchandising, and many other areas for that matter.
Here are some things to do if you want to get better at visual merchandising:
- Contact the Visual Merchandising expert at your Head Office and ask if s/he can spare a few hours to come out to your store during the next layout or big visual presentation change
- Ask for training materials that may be available through your Head Office
- Contact local colleges/schools that offer courses in Visual Merchandising and sign up
- Subscribe to a publication that addresses the subject
- Walk the malls and pay attention to different Visual Presentations and try to figure out the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of what they did
- Search the internet for pointers and suggestions
Because Visual Merchandising is something of an art, as opposed to a science, you absolutely must practice, practice, and practice some more.
Most Visual Merchandising professionals will advise you not to be afraid to try new and different things.
Of course, there are basic principles to be followed but what is visually pleasing to people is so subjective that trying new things is the only way to keep up.