Atmospheric shopping

Brix-Wine As retailers head towards the most wonderful time of the year, Bobby Joel Stearns, head of communications for retail display and merchandising wholesaler – WBC, reveals how to lure Christmas shoppers into your store.

Everyone knows how important the final months of the year are for retail. Despite the stiff competition, there’s still a perfect opportunity for retailers to use visual merchandising and seasonal displays to stand out from the crowd and increase both footfall and profit margin.

Start by finding ways to heighten the atmosphere of the retail experience. When customers enter your store they want to become part of a bigger story. If you’re a deli, farm shop or food retailer for example, this may be simply creating a space that speaks of cultivated land, provenance and the passion of artisan food and drink producing.

Creating ‘hot-spots’ and interchangeable displays that showcase local producers is also a great way to do this. Consider introducing modular display units to sit alongside your existing fixtures to highlight specific seasonal collections and Christmas bestsellers.

Clever merchandising involves displaying product lines in complimentary colour groups and product categories. It may sound simple, but if your store makes sense and people can find what they’re looking for, they’re far more likely to make your store their permanent home.

Think about areas of high footfall. What products are in eye-line? As merchandising experts like to say “Eye-line is buy-line”. Where does your customer queue? The ‘checkout’ area is an ideal place to create displays that encourage impulse purchases. After all, a simple printed ‘bag-for-life’ is a mere drop in the ocean at trade price, but can provide you with more than 100% profit when sold at retail – just by placing it in a strategic position.

Communicating messages

76% of shoppers never even speak to a sales assistant when shopping. So make sure your customer can easily find out how much something is, without having to ask. Use POS displays to communicate price points, special offers and new products. The ability to change messages regularly, adds a personal charm to the retail space and it offers reassurance that your ‘special offer’ is not just generic but directed to the individual shopper.

R14-RD-CafeTo keep customers inspired, why not try featuring regular recipe ideas, food & drink pairing or special one-offs like ‘hamper of the month’, these are easy to display on blackboards and paper roll holders. Remember, if you’re an indie retailer, a major advantage you have, is it that you offer a personality, a service, and a unique selling point. So take advantage of that and you’ll be amazed how much your customer sticks to you like glue.

The Retail School that’s shaping today’s retailers

The longer customers spend with you the more they’ll buy. But over time, store layouts and merchandising can become confused and unfocused. It may be that in the run up to Christmas your business could benefit from some retail therapy.

The Retail School, based at WBC in London, runs a series of one-day courses that bring together some of the brightest and creative minds in the retail business to cover topics like Space Planning, Visual Merchandising, Window Dressing, Social Media Marketing and Commercial Finance.

• For a collection of modular display units, merchandising fixtures, fittings and accessories at trade prices visit

• For printed bags for life – an excellent way to increase impulse purchases visit

• For Retail Merchandising training sessions visit

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