The What, Why and Hows of Visual Merchandising Training
Text author: Kristy Lau
WHAT is Visual Merchandising (VM) Training?
It is a course that is designed to enhance your retail staff store presentation skillsets. It spans across different levels: from beginners to masters. Like any valuable skill based training, it can’t be done overnight. A professional trainer would have to recommend a holistic approach which will most definitely include a simulated retail environment for the participants to integrate conceptual learning with direct application.
WHY should you be trained in Visual Merchandising?
With the shifting consumer behaviours in the modern retail era, brand loyalty is coming to an end. Often, retailers struggle to deliver a consistently compelling story in their store presentation. With Showroomers, consumers who browse products at a retail store before purchasing them online at the lowest price possible, your brick and mortar store now plays a big part in your consumers’ key initial consideration. In addition, consumers are now highly stimulated and aggressively pursued. Any watered-down store experience would probably deter them from revisiting your brand again. It is crucial to win your customers every time they step into your stores. The VM experience is the precise tool that your brand needs to deliver the “winning punch”. The VM “soldiers” not only execute the boardroom plan, experienced ones are likely to enhance the store into an immersive experience. Brands that understand this, will most likely emerge from this retail battle as winners.
Maintaining an in-house visual merchandising team can be expensive. As such, many brands inadvertently rely on their sales floor associates to “play” visual merchandisers. This “double up” role often confuses the sales floor associates, and might even conjure an inconsistent message across their stores. Fret not, there is a ready solution! Getting them trained would be the most cost-effective option compared to having a team of in-house visual merchandisers.
HOW do you make this training work for you?
Provide information and expectations for involved employees on the training session and objectives. An option is to set a SMART [Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant & Time Limited] goal for involved participants. The SMART goal not only enables one to remain focused during training, it may even compel them to apply their new skills!
Setting clear goals and quick post works will help incorporate this newly obtained knowledge into their daily roles. You might even consider communicating the training objectives to related functions and conducting an inter-department pilot project.
Ideally, you should have a set of key metrics clearly defined before conducting post training assignments. This will set a benchmark for future improvements and an unbiased feedback system for all involved individuals. With the help of retail data analytics, one can easily monitor and assess the training’s financial returns.
Standardise your VM guidelines and directives. This could be in a form of a manual or even a quarterly planogram of launch / sales items. Never underestimate the effectiveness of pictorial communication. It breaks down language barriers and align skillset levels. Many might interpret display forms differently. But with the help of an illustrational blueprint, coupled together with a step by step guide, the VM guideline and directives will align a consistent store display end state. This will deliver a consistent and appealing message to your customers!
Talent spot your in-house VM. More often than not, there are a number of unknown visual merchandising talents right under your nose. It does take a certain level of artistry to troubleshoot retail situations, for example; delayed stock delivery, unexpected traffic hike or dip, and out of stock situations. Identifying in-house talents as VM champions provides internal staff members a sense of career advancement, the ownership to unforeseen scenarios and is a good way to acknowledge their contributions beyond their job scopes.
Visual Merchandising plays a vital role to your retail success and you should never put it on the back burner. Good VM training bridges the gap between planning and executing. Invest in your available resources and you will benefit from higher profits and greater productivity!
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Author: Kristy Lau, CAPS Group Creative & Visual Merchandising Services Manager, International.
About the company: at CAPS Group we get it. We provide a ‘one stop shop’ service to retailers that care about their sales performance and the power of customer experience. Get in touch and challenge us!