Visual Merchandising with Helen Goodwin

Visual Merchandising with Helen Goodwin

Visual merchandising is a simple and effective tool that any business can use, no matter the size of the business or the budget you have available. We spoke to Helen Goodwin from Made You Look visual merchandising agency to share her top tips on how to give your business the wow factor  

What does visual merchandising mean?

Visual merchandising is the practice of optimising the presentation of products and services to best highlight their features, benefits and other attributes. The aim of this is to attract and engage customers, then motivate them towards making a purchase. Visual merchandising can employ any combination of lighting, colours and decor to catch an observer’s eye and generate interest.

Why is visual merchandising important?

Your shop window and facade are the first thing a prospective customer will see when they walk by your business - utilise this to pique their interest. 

A lot of high street regeneration has been about making sure that businesses have bright and engaging shop fronts and that the streets themselves look nice. Colour and vibrancy will make people want to stop and explore, these people can then become customers! 

Generally speaking, you only have a few seconds to make an impression on a passerby, and they’ll form an opinion of your business based on this first impression. Often people are distracted, walking around with their noses in their phones or their minds elsewhere; you need to pull them out of that and make them look at you. Helen gave us her top tips for a good window display, so let’s take a look.

Visual merchandising techniques for  shop windows and in store displays

Think of how some department stores are famous for their window displays. Helen broke the art of visual merchandising down into six simple points:

  1. Your message - what’s the story? Tell the viewer (potential customer!) who you are and what you do. Are you a pet shop? A bakery? A beauty salon? Make that clear from your display. 
  2. Location - where are you? Can people find your business? This is where the light and vibrancy come into play, making sure you’re visible to people down the road or across the street. You can also consider including a nod to your digital presence - maybe a sign with your instagram handle and website, or a ShopAppy sticker to help people find you later.
  3. Know your customer - You might have one customer type, you might have several, but how do you keep your displays interesting enough to please them all?  You can’t please everyone all the time but having a good knowledge of your customer base can really help to inform your displays 
  4. Inspiration - there are lots of places you can get inspiration for your displays. Take a look at what other businesses like yours, or other businesses in your area are doing. Experiment with new ideas and see what gets the best results, and remember to consider your commercial calendar - big events like Valentine’s Day, Easter and Christmas will need a lot of consideration and planning but are fantastic opportunities to get creative and attract new customers.
  5. Basic display rules - height and depth are important in any good window display. You want to include height at the back, for example with a blind, poster, hanging garland or even a strip of wallpaper. This will lead the eye down towards your merchandise. Most displays are based on a pyramid, so use stands of different heights, staggered at different depths, to draw the eye through each item being displayed. With this basic principle, you can change the background and hang seasonal decorations around the main display to vary things throughout the year.
  6. Housekeeping - your display is the first thing a customer will see about your business, and you don’t want it to make you seem sloppy or dirty. Helen advises checking your display morning and night. Does the water for your flowers need changing? Does anything need refolding? Is anything getting dusty? A quick once over will keep your display looking fresh until it’s time to change it.

One last tip Helen had for your window displays was to make sure that you’re planning ahead. If you want to avoid as much stress as possible, you should probably be thinking about your Christmas display now!

Shop display ideas - inside matters as well!

Your window display might get prospective customers through the door, but what’s going to happen once they’re inside? Helen suggests watching how people walk around your shop. Do they go right or left? How do they interact with what you’re offering? Try to see your shop through the eyes of the casual shopper and use this to inform where you put your displays.

Consider having a focal point in your shop - for example, in a beauty salon you could have a feature wall, with a place to sit and a display for new and upcoming products or services. If your display is advertising a particular product, make sure you have plenty of stock merchandised to either side of it. If you have space you could even consider a small scenario - a baking scene in a kitchen shop would make a fantastic display. Whatever you have space for, a well-lit display will always pull people over.

If you have space for multiple displays, try to let them guide the customer around your shop. Make sure you utilise all the space you have available. Remember that your central display can be seen from all angles, so use all of that space. A display at the till is always a good chance for upselling, whether it’s for an impulse purchase or a small detail that’s often forgotten. Spare a thought as well for what the customer sees as they turn away from the till and walk towards the door, you might be able to sell them something else on their way out!

As a special offer for ShopAppy businesses only, Helen is offering a free consultation worth £100! Go to and scroll down. Book yourself a Silver Package and quote the code SA-SPR-22 in the surname field, and Helen will be in touch to talk to you about all your visual merchandising needs!  Offer expires at the end of July 2022.


We hope this guide to visual merchandising has been helpful for your business - if you would like to know more about and being part of our ever growing community of local shops and businesses get in touch at [email protected]


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