Visual Merchandising: Develop an Inviting & Identifiable Store Environment
Develop the Store Image
The third step in developing the store image is selecting the elements or store image cues and attributes that create the mental image or impression the public perceives regarding the store’s personality. Each retailer must “paint a picture” or present a unique personality or character of the store that he wishes the target consumer to recognize in comparison to the store’s competition. Store image is a mirror of what the store stands for with regard to value/quality of merchandise, price of product assortments, customer service types, store personnel, promotional direction, and community citizenship.
General Elements for Building Store Image
As has been previously discussed, the history and origin of the store many times flavors the opinion a consumer has of a specific retailer.
Knowing the founders or family of the founders of a retail firm or realizing that a store is well established gives credibility to a retail business. Customers like to shop in a store that has a track record of success and is well respected in the community.
Physical Elements for Building Store Image
The consumer’s first introduction to a retail store is the center’s marquee and/or the retailer’s signage. The signage is oftentimes on the marquee and also on the storefront. The signage should automatically identify the personality of the store and provide information about products, services, and the interior store environment. Signage sets the mood and is the first indicator or cue to assist in establishing an image for the retailer. The lettering of the signage is most important. The letter type, style, color, and materials from which the sign is made are all significant elements that help to tell a story.
Personnel Elements for Building Store Image
Many consumers equate a store with the quality and number of its personnel or employees.
In fact, some consumers shop with a particular retailer because of the availability of trained employees who provide superb customer assistance, the product knowledge possessed by the store employees, or the friendliness of the store personnel.
Customer Service Elements for Building Store Image
The consumer’s perception of the store’s customer services and the responsiveness of the store to the customer are both very important in establishing a constant and consistent store image.
Easily accessible web pages, 1-800 numbers, e-mail messages answered in a timely manner—even informational catalogs—are almost a must in today’s retail scene. For customer convenience and time-saving measures, many consumers have come to expect that retailers offer these services.
Product Elements for Building Store Image
The right product in the right styles, colors, and sizes—at the right price, in the right quantities—merchandised in the right place, at the right time are major factors impacting store image.
The “Retail/Vendor Matrix”, or a listing of the retailer’s major vendors supplying the store’s merchandise, assists the retailer in denoting the fashion level of the merchandise carried by the store as well as suggests price points of the merchandise.
Price Elements for Building Store Image
The retail prices of the merchandise carried by a retail store are not only an indication of the channel of distribution and location in which the store operates but also these prices impact the types of product classifications offered and the fashion level of the product. The price ranges, or price lines with lowest to highest retail prices, of a store’s merchandise assortments, also function as store image cues that target consumers consider when selecting a specific retail store for purchases. Additionally, the price points, or specific, selected prices within the price range for a particular product classification, signify store image cues.
Placement Elements for Building Store Image
As previously discussed in this section, Part 2: “Investigate the Trading Area”, the placement attribute is one of the most critical image cues for establishing the store image and determining the merchandise presentation and display techniques utilized by the visual merchandiser.
As management develops the strategic plan and establishes the cues for store image, the organization pinpoints the target consumer, store location, and product offering plus the channel of distribution in which the store operates.
All of these elements are intricately related and one affects all of the others
Integrated Promotional Mix for Building Store Image
The composition of the marketing mix (i.e., 10 Ps or product, price, place, promotion, presentation, people, positioning, packaging, processing, playback) and sales promotional mix (i.e., advertising, visual merchandising, special events and promotions, publicity, fashion coordination, and training) definitely impact and foster the building of a sound store image. The promotional mix is usually manipulated not only to attract customer traffic and promote additional sales volume but also it is planned to build and maintain store image and solidify the positioning of the store.