When you open a bricks and mortar store you have to start getting business savvy from the get go. As in you’ll be needing to calculate and focus on what your sales are per square footage are. By this I mean what is the average revenue your biz will generate for every square foot of sales in that space. As we all know cosmetics are always on the ground floor of any department store because they are always considered an impulse buy, as are flowers I might add. Let me give you some more examples – Apple has one of the most successful retail stores by far bringing in a rate of $6.000 per square foot of floor space. In lower end stores and super markets sales per square foot are less than a $100. Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay is one of the most expensive retail locations in the world with an average rent costing more than $3,000 per square foot. Fifth Avenue and the Avenue des Champs Elysees are not far behind. Over here Heathrow is by far and above the leader with a staggering £2,782 per square foot. Selfridges are not far behind at £1,500 and Harrods behind that at £1,000.

It’s all about square footage and in retail its all about opportimsing every square inch giving you better and better sales. To do that you have to get into the art and science of visual merchandising. You have to plan out windows and themes and ideas way in advance. Here are my tried and tested tips:

Design your space with your target customer in mind

This will help tremendously – by digging deeper into your customer’s psychographics and their lifestyle/behaviours you can create and target a layout and design that resonates with your customers and makes them want to linger longer in your store. As I am my target customer I find this bit pretty easy. I create spaces that I want to hunker down in and hang out. They tantalize, intrigue and inspire! Linger time is super important, work out how long customers are spending in your store. If they are in and out in a jiffy you have a problem. If they take some time then they are engaging with the products  and you’ve nailed it!

Leverage upon the senses

The secret to creating visually stimulating displays is to create a multi sensory experience also known in the biz as ‘sensory branding’. Think about how your visual displays communicate your message, play with the lighting, contrast textures, balance and direct the eye it’s fascinating stuff.

The music you play has a profound effect on how your customers behave in store. Mellow music makes them browse more, head banging music makes them run for the hills, unless of course that is your kind of vibe. Everything in our stores is super tactile so customers want to touch everything, it engages them more with the product. Interestingly enough with this in mind a lot of the flowers for our own label spring/summer collection are real touch. Waxy, fat headed English garden varieties that not only look real but feel real, but hey don’t distract me on that front I will be here for years going on about how fabulous they are!

Also don’t neglect smell, in Heal’s we have Santa Maria Novella pot pouri, which gently scents the air with the most magical fragrance, in Upper Street we have beautifully scented candles that magically perfume the air.

Create a story

Customers are more likely to buy into your products when you merchandise them in a way that people can envision in their own homes. For example if you’re selling a chair, put a little table by the side of it with a lamp, a book, a scented candle – you’re creating a scene as it were. As soon as customers can envision your product in their homes you’ve as good as sold that item! This also goes for lifestyle photography when you style your products in a lifestyle manner you’ll sell far more of them than if everything were cut outs.

Don’t neglect the lighting

Lighting is one of the most transformative things you can do to any space so how your store looks and feels is fundamental. Do you want a nightclub feel, a brightly lit operating theatre or runway vibe – hopefully none of those but you get my drift. Use your lightning effectively to direct, draw attention and enhance.

Change it up

You can increase sales through visual merchandising by engaging your customers it’s as simple as that. Constantly try out new ideas and change them around all the time to keep customers coming back and to keep your space, fresh, hip and constantly evolving!