By: Chris Dingcong
Retailing is all about your brand. And your brand is all about who you are, your brand personality, your product, your brand identity and the promise you make to your customers. And in this day and age of retailing, you will always face challenges the way you engage with your customers and how your customers connect with your brand.
One of these challenges is change and ironically, change is also one of the constants in retailing. Change is inevitable in the retail industry and having the ability to adapt to change makes a successful retailer.
A major change in retail is the advent of online shopping. It has changed the customer’s shopping landscape, it’s changing faster than ever before and it has also transformed the way retailers communicate with customers. As technologies change, so does the consumer behaviour and expectations from brands.
So how does online retailing impact visual merchandising? Although we have seen and experienced the convenience of online shopping and how it has changed our way of buying goods, the absence of a physical product merchandising with online shopping and the unavailability of sensory interaction with products and brands mean that the need for visual merchandising is all the more amplified.
For retailers, this is of course reassuring, as the brick-and-mortar store and visual merchandising won’t be disappearing anytime soon. Both will still be integral components of retailing.
Interestingly, as reported by business.com, 94 percent of all retail sales in the U.S. still takes place in a physical store. This also equates to the paramount need for visual merchandising in the brick-and-mortar environment. But, retailers must be mindful that it really is not online vs offline, but rather online to offline as a unified engagement in connecting the brand to the customers.
Your physical store is the best environment for your brand to communicate and create brand engagement with your customers. It is your communication platform to fortify your efforts to make your brand’s story an ongoing journey of experience for your customers. It is central to your holistic brand dialogue and foremost environment to immerse your target audience about your brand identity. This is where the importance of a strategic approach in unifying the online to offline engagement come together, where your brand story is told in a seamless brand experience.
THE VISUAL STORY TELLING
The importance of your brand’s story determines how you connect to your customers to build your brand engagement. Encapsulated in the communication of your story is your visual merchandising. The visual story telling of your brand.
Visual merchandising is a strategic approach to your brand communication. It is your brand’s tool to set in motion a continuation of your dialogue from your marketing campaign to your retail store environment and deliver consistent messages and concepts to your customers. It makes your brand more understandable and it influences your customer’s decision making to buy your products.
To deepen the impression of your visual merchandising, it should be able to touch the senses of your customers as they interact with your retail environment. Your visual merchandising must also be coherent in communicating your brand through your store design such as your space planing, lighting, fixture and furniture, your in-store communications such as your signage, graphics and images and your merchandise presentation such as your window display, floor fixture display and table display. These are the components that comprise your holistic visual merchandising communication.
With a clear brand identity and well defined branding components, your visual merchandising can effectively express your brand and build an emotional connection with your customers to strengthen trust, brand awareness and increase brand loyalty.
About the Author:
Chris Dingcong is the founder and the Creative Director of Springtime Design, a branding and design consultancy based in Hong Kong. Chris has more than 20 years of experience in corporate, retail, environmental branding and identity system design.
*First published on Philippine Retailing newsletter 2018 Q2 issue.