The Skills Needed by a Visual Merchandiser

By on January 25, 2012 – Updated on March 31, 2013

If you want to plunge into a visual merchandising career, you need to sharpen your creative and soft skills that are necessary for your to be called a visual merchandiser. Without having these skills, you are like are warrior who goes to the battle field without any armor.

To make sure that you become effective on doing visual merchandising jobs, here are the following creative skills you needed:

Designing

This is the first skill that you need as visual merchandiser. I am referring to Designing in general. Your main concern as visual merchandiser is to set-up the point of purchase (POP) materials and the products to become highly visible, attractive and ergonomic to the consumer. Thus, you must not just know the principles and elements design but also know how to use them effectively to achieve the purpose.

In addition, as visual merchandiser, you are sometimes a part on making floor plans and in-charge of selecting appropriate POP materials – you must have know-how about interior design, and as visual merchandiser, you are also responsible on selecting and matching appropriate costumes for and dressing up the mannequins – you must have know-how about fashion and fashion design.

Visual merchandising will not be completed without signage. The exterior banner, the shelf talker, the tabletop poster, the price signage and the rest of the printed visual materials in the store require desktop publishing and graphic design skills before it produced.

The popular software that you can use are Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator and CorelDraw but if this software are not available, use Microsoft Office Publishes rather than Microsoft Office Word.

Decorating

This is the art of adding stuffs and embellishments into a certain place or object to make it appealing to the eyes. Decorating gives fresh look to an unwanted area of a store, object or any place and intrigues and ignites the emotion of consumers which will unconsciously draw them back to your store over and over again.

Imagine how frustrating to see a rumbling flowers in a flower vase when you enter in a business establishment or stores; this may be a small matter but it can damage a corporate brand.

Table skirting and draping are the skills related to decorating that are only for those people who work at hotels and restaurants. Give an extra value to the product by putting it on the top of a well skirted table. This will throw an impression to your customers that your product is special.

Table skirting skill is not only limited to tables; you can used the same principle on covering your offer bin so that it will not look bare. Draping on the other hand is also as important as table skirting especially during store’s special occasion to add some touches on the ceiling, walls and posts.

Recycling

This skill will help a lot on saving your budget for visual merchandising. Think of painted twigs, origami out of used office paper, display table out of empty boxes, artificial flowers out of bottles of mineral water and soft drinks straw and other things that you have used before as materials for your floor and window display instead of buying new decorations. What you only need is your creativity and sense of art.

Painting

This is fun for me because I love mixing different colors of paint to produce new one. Painting is not just as easy as holding a paint brush or roller brush and rubbing it on your project. It is a creative skills that is need to be learnt to make your projects pop.

You must have a good sense of color harmony and color scheming to produce a composition that is quite unique which will catch people’s attention. There are times that mural paintings are necessary to create better ambiance inside a store.

Sculpting and Props Making

The most popular material on sculpting stuffs for visual merchandising is the Styrofoam because it is easy to cut and easy to form. Paper mache is also good and cost-effective material. Sculpting is usually used when making props but of course there are many other ways depending on what materials you are going to use. Props making also requires good crafting skills

Letter Cutting

You may use manual or advance technologies to perform this task but for an in-house visual merchandiser, manual letter cutting is the closest to reality. This is usually applied to the environmental graphic or the signs and signage system like brand or corporate logos, directional signs and store signage where vinyl stickers are used.

Freehand Drawing and Writing

You may belong to a business that uses new technologies but for some small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and retail businesses, this is necessary. Using marker pens for POS price tags and shelves talkers is quite cost-effective than digital printing for your small business especially in a retail store where prices of goods are regularly changed. On the other hand, a large drawing can also be used as background of window display.

Photography

Good photographers always see things around them as if these things are inside a frame to create a state of art compositions. They look at every element and visualize how every object will be seen in the final output, the photo, and adjust the setting of the next shoot depending on the result of the first one.

After you have set up your window or floor display, take a photograph of it and see how it looks in 2D. Take advantage of the mushrooming image-capturing devices (digital camera, mobile phone, iPhones and etc.) and online social media platforms of the new generation for your business via visual merchandising.

If you have good photography skills, you know how to do visual merchandising that encourage passersby to pose in front of your floor or window display and other projects to have photographed. They may share the photos to their friends or post it on Facebook; then you will have this as free advertisement.

Here are more skills a visual merchandiser should have – the soft skills for visual merchandisers.

Planning

There is a popular line which goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. A plan serves as a blueprint of your activities and priorities and a person who knows how to plan understands clearly his job responsibilities and authority, formulates realistic objective and schedules to carry out his job, classifies the work to be done, divides it into sections, and creates orderly and productive arrangements. Planning minimizes the necessity for overtime, helps you manage your time, helps you manage your resources.

Initiating

This what employers appreciate. Peter Weddle mentioned on his article, The iPhone Proposition, that the two traits that employers highly value are initiative and self-reliance. A person who have good initiative recognizes and corrects situations which need improvement, originates new approaches to problems, makes the most of the promising new plans or idea and faces up situations.

Delegating

It lightens your tasks, it generates a sense of belongingness and it encourages cooperation with others. A person who has good delegating skill provides the necessary know-how for others as required, defines jobs for others that provide the greatest challenge and opportunity, makes full use of the skills and abilities of his or her co-workers and avoids trespassing on authority once it is delegated periodically.

Organizing

According to John C. Maxwell, if you do not choose to organized, you choose to agonize. Organizing helps to make your work easier especially when you are looking for your visual merchandising tools and supplies or searching a file in your computer. The props the materials and designs are increasing in your room every day, so when you do not know how to organize, your “arts room” will look like a junk shop.

Communicating

This one of the most important skills that is required in any field. It involves listening, speaking and writing. A person who is good in communicating Expresses himself clearly and effectively – in writing, listening and speaking and manner, keeps inform on how others are thinking and feeling, encourages his colleagues to express their ideas and opinions, listens with intelligence to criticism of his own actions handles question satisfactorily, explains the why of his decisions and recognizes good work and expresses appreciation.

Doing Mathematics

If find it difficult to convert centimeters to inches or feet to meters, you better review or study Mathematics before pursuing to become visual merchandiser because you will also be engage this kind of situation and other Mathematical problems in the field. Financial manage which indeed involves Mathematics is also important.

Evaluating

This is the key to determine your personal effectiveness and the effectiveness of your project. Doing thing without evaluation at the end will make stagnant, no improvement and you couldn’t notice that your style, your design and methods are just the same with that of three or five years ago. I’m sure your boss or audience won’t like that. Searched for what is ideal and compare output and methods with it then change those need to be changed. Be optimistic and use criticism to improve things.

If you are born to be a visual artist, these things are easy for you but if you are just start learning these skills, you need to double your time and take one step at a time.



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About Jyppe A. Quidores

A graphic designer and visual merchandising specialist. He provides visual communication solutions for retailers.

2 Comments

  1. metalpig design

    June 17, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    It’s true! In this time of gadgets and high-speed technology, creative Visual Merchandiser are hard to find..
    I invite you to read: Liquid Flowers High Speed Photography Series by Jack LongMy Profile

  2. tatess

    June 18, 2012 at 2:13 am

    I don’t have most of the talent mentioned sbove especially designing ,decorating and drawing. When it comes to decorating the house,I leave it all to my husband.
    I invite you to read: Bull Frog Mosquito CoastMy Profile

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