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Customers walking into a store are rarely impressed with messy shelves, jumbled contents and bland rows of stacked merchandise. Visual merchandising can boost customer interest and purchasing by creating visually exciting environments that showcase goods, catch shoppers’ eyes, or contribute to a pleasing overall shopping aesthetic. Understand the meaning and terms of visual merchandising words to identify effective strategies for your store.
A display is a fundamental visual merchandising term that refers to the intentional arrangement of goods. Store displays can be visually stimulating with color choice, arrangement or mood created. For example, a bedding store might sell more linens and comforters by placing a full-sized bed on the showroom floor and creating an attractive display with smooth sheets, fluffy comforters, towers of pillows and a casually arranged throw blanket. Customers admiring the display might feel moved to purchase the showcased goods.
“Hot spot” is another visual merchandising term that refers to areas of the store that receive high volumes of customer traffic or attention. Placing high-end goods, desirable products or items that the store would like to quickly sell in hot spots can divert customer attention and increase sales. In one example, a store might employ hot-spot visual merchandising by arranging eye-catching goods close to the dressing room or in the store display window to provoke customer attention.
The meaning of “feature endcaps” with relation to visual merchandising refers to store displays arranged near the end of store aisles. The term comes from units, often with shelves, designed to "cap" the ends of normal freestanding merchandise shelving. Endcaps can feature related or complementary items that help upsell goods arranged on traditional store shelves. For example, a grocery store might use visual merchandising to promote ice cream sundae syrups, small candy toppings and wafer cones as a feature endcap display next to a frozen goods aisle. After selecting a gallon of ice cream and continuing down the aisle, customers might stop to browse the dessert toppings.
POP stands for "point of purchase," and refers to goods positioned in visual merchandising to spur last-minute sales near the store registers. Stores use POP goods displays to tempt shoppers into making impulse buys after seeing these items attractively displayed. Sometimes POP goods displays involve lower-priced or smaller items, so customers don’t heavily weigh the purchase because it seems less significant. For example, a fashion boutique might create visual displays of dangling earrings, fabric headbands or cocktail rings that customers decide to buy to complement a new sweater or complete a birthday gift selection.
Visual merchandising sometimes relies on props for effective displays. The word “props” refers to items that aren’t necessarily for sale, but help demonstrate the desirability of a product. For example, a furniture store might hang wall mirrors or watercolor paintings above couch and dining room table displays so that customers can envision what the furniture might look like in a home setting.
Morgan Rush is a California journalist specializing in news, business writing, fitness and travel. He's written for numerous publications at the national, state and local level, including newspapers, magazines and websites. Rush holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, San Diego.