Visual Merchandising Careers – Basic Requirements & Training

A visual merchandiser is in charge of creating the visual concept for online and brick and mortar retail businesses. Visual designers can specialize in different areas of the design industry. There are designers that work in the interior design realm and designers who deal primarily with retail fashion. Visual merchandisers use their artistic talent and design skills to create arrangements for window and in-store displays to showcase home furnishings.

The purpose of visual merchandising is to catch the attention of customers and establish an image that reflects their targeted customers, as well as encourage more customers to visit the store. Visual merchandising is also designed to help guide customers by establishing the layout and positioning of merchandise to encourage a sale.

Many times the visual merchandiser is heavily relied on to help design a store's layout and any other situation involving the store's merchandise being displayed, sold, or promoted.

A Visual Merchandiser's Role in Storefront Identity

One of the most important areas of a store is the store front. The entrance sets the tone and should effectively establish the desired image and personality of the store. It should give shoppers an idea of the merchandise they can find once they get inside of the store. 

It doesn't matter if a store is located inside of a mall or stands alone on the street. A visual merchandiser's store is the same. They need to get customers interested in your store. When a shopper is passing by, there is only a tiny window of opportunity for the window display to grab their attention and make them want to come inside. A visual merchandiser will help promote both the store brand and its merchandise.

Developing a Successful Store Layout

There is a lot of thought and strategy that goes into a store layout. A visual merchandiser knows how to design an entire store's merchandise displays so that it slowly shows shoppers more and more of what's available as they move through the store. Many home furnishing stores separate furniture according to its function. For example, one section will display dining room furniture while another might showcase bedroom furniture selections. This helps shoppers visualize how the pieces might fit into their homes which could lead to more sales.

Career Requirements

A visual merchandiser should have both a natural artistic ability and the technical design experience required to build a display set including visual props, lighting, and arrangements. A visual merchandiser should have current knowledge of the trends in the design industry they choose. Many design schools include a visual merchandising course of study.

Retailers are gaining more of an appreciation for the skills a visual merchandiser uses to create displays and drive more customers into their stores. An experienced visual merchandiser can move into high level managerial positions in retail industries, architectural firms, or even start their own business.

by Michelle Parker

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