Easy Ways to Great Optical Displays
Barbara L. Wright, C.I.D.
Visual merchandising is the art of displaying merchandise to encourage sales. Big box retailers, department stores and large eyewear chains have professional visual merchandisers whose job is to create enticing displays that sell the products. Eye care practices normally don't have the luxury of professional help in this area.
You may be lucky enough to have someone on staff with an artistic bent who has a natural knack for putting together displays. Even if you don't, you can have good-looking and effective displays by following these visual merchandising tips.
Displaying Different Price Points
Your optical needs several different kinds of displays to visually separate economy/insurance frames and moderate-priced frames from high-end designer brands. The lowest priced frames should be shown in high density on rotators or frame boards. Some practices keep them in plastic trays stored in cabinets below wall displays.
Moderate-priced frames should be shown on frame bars or on a peg-system frame board where mirrors, shelves and photos can be interspersed with single frame holders for variety. Some of your brand name frames may fall into the moderate price category. These need some shelf area that allows you to use brand-identifying props supplied by vendors.
High-end brands should never be shown on frame bars or massed together on a frame board. Glass or solid shelves and white backgrounds with bright halogen lighting are required to make frame colors pop and jewelry-like styles sparkle. The perceived value of these frames is tied to the brand name so displaying each brand together as a collection is essential.
Your highest priced frames should be displayed in showcases behind locked glass doors. Even if you don't lock the doors, presenting frames this way establishes higher value in the mind of the patient. Vendor-supplied free-standing pedestal (single level) and tower (two or three level) showcases are also good for showing high-end collections.
Never crowd high-end frames together. The closer frames are jammed together, the cheaper they look. Give your high-end frames somebreathing space. Show off their distinctive style that sets them apart from ordinary. You can group a collection together on a shelf, but leave some space between groups so patients can distinguish one brand from another and notice all the design details that make them special.
Designers and manufacturers put a lot of time, effort and dollars into promoting their brand names to consumers. Your displays should help patients easily identify the brands whose image they relate to best. Make it easy for patients to spot the brands they want by selective use of a few of the P.O.P. (Point Of Purchase) props and signage that they supply.
For luxury frame lines merchandising by brand is critical for price acceptance. No one will pay $500 or more for a no-name frame. The name provides assurance of value and quality for the patient so make sure brand names are prominent in your high-end displays.
Romancing the Frames
Romance your frames by displaying your collections in ways that enhance the image of that brand. If you follow these basic visual merchandising principles you'll have good-looking displays that sell.
Using identical elements and repeating them over and over again creates a very powerful display. This simple idea can have a lot of punch. For example, you can line up a series of frames that are all the same style, but different colors. It really doesn't matter how you support them. Just make sure they are all positioned exactly the same way or the display will lose impact. You get an additional benefit from this type of display: it reinforces the idea that you have a wide selection of frames.
If you place one frame at the highest point of the display and let all the other elements step down from that point you have a very effective design. That top focal point attracts attention and makes the display interesting to view. This strategy always works. You really can't construct a bad pyramid display.
Odd Not Even
An odd number of display elements is more interesting to the eye than an even number. That's because an asymmetrical arrangement is slightly off balance and keeps the eye moving around to look at each frame. That provides a built-in visual dynamic. On the other hand a symmetrical perfectly balanced arrangement stops the eye in its tracks. That's dull.
Consider carefully the background materials for your display. The right texture can complement or contrast with the frames placed on or around it. For example, never put metal frames on a mirror or other glossy surface. The frames simply get lost in all those reflections. Metal frames need a rich surface like velvet or suede to bring out their jewelry-quality. However, frames made with special materials such as leather can be emphasized effectively by using props made of similar materials. Leather gloves or a leather-covered journal in a different color would draw attention to leather trimmed frames.
Less is more
Keep your displays simple. Keep them uncluttered. Leave some space around them. The most common mistake is trying to show too much at the same time. Even props should be simple in shape, preferably something that provides a large mass of color or texture, such as blocks, covered boxes or risers. Stay away from things with a lot of busy details.
Don't try to use fabric or scarves for display. Draping fabric is very difficult and the end result will most likely look distracting and unprofessional. Hard display accessories are much easier for non-professionals to work with than soft ones like fabric. Stick to the easy ones!
Tell a Story
Choose a theme for your display (holiday and seasonal themes are easy) and then collect props and select frames that express that theme. Back to school could mean some pencils, rulers and books with preppy kids frames in bright hues. Use your imagination and notice things around the house that could play a part in your displays.
Foolproof Instant Display
The easiest, most foolproof way to create a brand name display is to simply place a shopping bag with the designer logo on a shelf and hang one frame on the bag. Put a few other frames (of the same brand, of course) on the shelf in front of the bag and you're done. Simple and effective.
Start a collection of props and add to it month by month so you'll have many things that you can mix and match in many different ways. Ask friends if you can borrow something special or unusual (an antique hat, a unique piece of jewelry); also check with your neighboring merchants to see if they would loan you some of their merchandise (for which you would give them credit, or course). Floral and craft supply shops are good sources for display materials and ideas.
Improve Your Visual Merchandising Eye Q
Keep your eye out for display ideas from jewelry shops and other stores when you are out and about. When you run across a shopper-stopper ask yourself, What makes this display so appealing that I had to stop and look at it? Borrow display ideas from the best and figure out ways to adapt them for your eyewear. Always remember the professional visual merchandiser's motto: Keep It Simple, Sweetheart!
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