When designing, there are multiple visual merchandising techniques that designers are thought to abide by, from movement & repetition to proportion & variety. However, creating a visual merchandising display that achieved Unity is widely considered to be the most important element of store design. Unity is obviously an all-encompassing term, but for us Unity is achieved when a store has a clear theme throughout, and uses the elements we mentioned above, such as variety, to tie every display - whether that’s a product or graphic displays, together (we’ll run through how you can achieve this in the next section).

Working with multiple high street retailers, we’ve found that the majority of visual merchandising projects have a central theme that all the graphic displays and visual merchandising techniques point towards. 

It’s possible to draw inspiration from almost anything that’s culturally relevant, from election campaigns to more traditional seasonality, however, the most successful visual merchandising projects have expanded on the theme with a story. Customers find it much easier to relate to creative concepts if they’re given a back story, think of the rise in story-based Christmas campaigns from John Lewis and other retailers - very few of these actually promote products directly, however each advert is followed up by visual merchandising techniques in store that provide customers with a visual representation of the story, alongside product displays. Stories help provide a bigger picture for customers, and gives retailers the opportunity to cross-sell products.

Visual Merchandising Techniques & Guidelines

Store Layout

The path a customer will take upon entering your store needs to be physically mapped out. This will allow you to utilise a range of visual merchandising techniques that draw customers through the store, increasing the chances of them making a purchase.

One of the most crucial visual merchandising guidelines when it comes to store layout is visibility. The majority of customers expect to find everything they’re shopping for on one floor, therefore stairs, lifts and escalators pose a threat to converting customers, unless the products on each floor is communicated effectively. 

Visual Merchandising Techniques & Guidelines

River Island used graphic displays with a mirrored effect to draw attention to the floor plan, explicitly communicating with customers what they can expect to find on the next floor. They also used custom-shaped light boxes to continue merchandising to customers whilst they were using stairs & escalators, with mannequins positioned tactically in front of the display to create up-selling opportunities when customers reached the menswear floor. Learn more about our graphic displays here.

Your store layout and mapped customer journey will be based assumptions of how the majority of people will flow through your store, with people tending to move to the right of obstacles they’re presented with early in the store journey. If this journey is considered alongside the focal points of your product displays, you can then implement display techniques to draw the customers attention.

LED Lightboxes & Illuminated signage are ideal for drawing customers to highlighted sections of your store. George at ASDA implemented neon-style LED signage, Neonist, to attract people deeper into the clothing section specifically towards demin for the launch of their tailored fit ranges. As this was mounted to the top of the existing shoplifting system and included high-brightness lighting, it was highly visible throughout the store.


Display Structures


Traditionally, wall displays are broken up into three visual merchandising guidelines. The top third of the display is used for visibility and drawing attention, the middle for feature product displays, and the bottom for stock options - such as different sizes and colours.

However we’ve seen a different approach being taken recently, most noticeably by Clarks in their new store concept. Naturally, Clarks have a high density of products to display and shelving consumes the majority of any footwear retailers store space, however they have changed their approach & visual merchandising guidelines around how these outer walls are merchandised. Using our Kontakt system, Clarks provided each shoe with its own movable illuminated shelf, which surrounded a central LED lightbox powered from the same system. This brings the focus of the customer's eye onto the middle of the display, immediately highlighting product options. 

Visual Merchandising Techniques & Guidelines

This approach was also used as a cross-selling opportunity for mid-floor units, with a custom attachment allowing other complementary products to be hung alongside the shoe displays, from handbags to shoe accessories. Learn more about our Kontakt system here.

The most important visual merchandising guideline of wall displays is to create visibility. This is usually done by providing a contrast in light, whether that’s the introduction of light or a custom LED lighting setup to intrigue customers.

Mid-floor structures

Mid-floor displays should match the style of the wall displays, providing continuity between the different visual merchandising techniques. For example, we recently worked with Selfridges to create standalone mid-floor displays that highlighted high-value items as visitors progress through the store - learn more about our custom retail display systems here. This was an ideal application of single display structures, as they were within an area of the store dedicated to low stock density / high value.

Visual Merchandising Techniques & Guidelines


If you would like advice on how to create your visual merchandising ideas, or for more information on our retail display products, get in touch with our team - by phone, 0161 655 2100, or by email, [email protected]. Or you can learn more about our retail display products here.