5 Clever Ways to Display Merchandise in a Gift Shop

By Sam Iontton09/11/2020
Visual merchandising in your gift shop

Visual merchandising is all about how you present your products to the outside world. Each brand, industry, or independent retail has its own unique, best practices when it comes to showcasing their products. Some opt for a sleek minimalist approach, while others prefer to fill their shelves with endless possibilities.

Whichever approach you choose, you need to ensure your merchandising strategy is aligned with the needs of your target customer. If not, you’ll miss a key opportunity to drive more sales.

At Christmas, the anticipation for festive display merchandising plays a huge role in customer experience, and for many shoppers, it’s where the magic season begins. How retailers display, group, and position their products, gifts and services, can have an enormous effect on how successfully they sell. When running a physical store, it’s important that you consider how to display merchandise in a gift shop. Consider our 5 clever ways to make the most of your space.

1. Understand your customer’s desires

Putting your customer at the forefront of each decision is the first crucial step you can take. Put yourself in their shoes, and take a walk around your store.

What do you see?

Where are your eyes drawn?

Are there any distractions?

This is a great way to peel back the layers and see your store through different eyes and will help you to determine whether your displays are too chaotic, too sparse, or if they flow from one to another. Strategic and successful merchandising connects with your customer across the whole journey. You need to anticipate their needs, bring their values to life, and cleverly infuse your brand story along with it.

visual sales techniques in your storefront

Like many visual sale techniques, the difference between fine and superior is in the details. As humans, we are incredibly susceptible to interesting visual elements; it’s in our nature to want to see, smell, touch and absorb all that is around us. That’s why you need to play to your strengths. One of the main advantages retail shops have over online shopping platforms is their ability to create something real, that sparks emotion and taps into your shoppers' senses.

At Christmas especially, shoppers want the fairytale, they want to be fully immersed in the Christmas spirit. When shopping for gifts, many don’t know what they’re looking for and can often wander in the hope of being inspired. Having a top seasonal gift cleverly placed on a riser, block or plinth can be just the ticket to enable a potential purchase to stand out amongst a sea of other products. Customers need it to be easy, not overwhelming.


2. Create a focal point to draw in interest.

Once customers have been enticed to enter your store, it’s very important to develop a focal point. There are many ways you can achieve this, and realistically there’s no wrong answer, it’s all about experimentation and seeing what works for your product lines.

focal points and call to actions in your gift shop

Creating a focal point helps customers navigate comfortably around the store, differentiate between different sections, and clearly marks out your key promotional products.

One of the most successful ways to create a focal point is to use riser pads or display cubes to create varying levels of dimensions. Ensure the product you want to be the focal point is in the centre or closest to the front. Remember to utilise lights, combined with risers they make a stunning visual effect that draws attention. Create a glowing effort by lighting a product from below, or opt for a spotlight effect, where the light shines directly from an above beam.


3. Tell a story to hold attention

While it’s common practice to change your displays based on seasonality or holidays, a simple Christmas scene won’t quite make the impact you’re after. Simply displaying an array of Christmas themed gifts isn’t going to inspire, or provide much Christmas spirit. Look at John Lewis, every year we wait on tenterhooks for their Christmas advert, each offering an engaging, and often heartwarming story that not only gives us that Christmas feeling, but provides us with something to relate to. That’s what you want to be trying to capture with your display merchandise.

Displaying merchandise in retail to tell

People want to create connections, so if a shopper cannot make sense of a display, then it’s unlikely they’ll want to buy the products. Great, engaging merchandising should portray clear, seamless storytelling through creativity and aesthetic elements. Whether it’s lighting, layouts, window dressing or even advertising graphics, merchandisers must master storytelling.

Christmas provides so much scope for delving into people’s heads and connecting to an audience. Think about your mission as a company and what messages you want to convey. Is there something unique about your product range? Do you boast vegan products? Do you have an interesting heritage? It’s about finding what sets you apart.

Your display must speak to your customer’s imagination:

What can your products do for your customers?

How can they help them?

How can they enhance their life?

Use these answers to make your customers part of your story.

Once you’ve gathered this information, you can use your story to drive the arrangement, rather than the arrangement of products leading the display. Let individual products become an element of the overarching story and be imaginative with fixtures and fittings. Using multiple different types of display and merchandising fixtures around your store will help keep your vision fluid, and your customers stimulated. Not only do the right display fixtures make a dynamic display, they provide an easier shopping experience for your customers.


Why visual storytelling?

  • Visuals increase message retention by 42%.
  • People can make sense of a visual scene in less than a second.
  • Attention spans are notoriously shrinking.
  • 65% of the world’s population are visual learners.
visual retailing in your gift shop

4. Use colour to catch eyes

When it comes to displaying anything, colour is key. Colours spark emotions; they make people feel inspired, or happy, and they can bring comfort, warmth, and even calmness. Using colours when displaying merchandise in a gift shop can help lead eyes to certain parts of your store.

Use of colour in your visual merchandising

Try looking at your store and noting which colours grab your attention.

Do colours contrast well against your merchandise?

Do your top products get lost in a sea of other brightly coloured products?

While vibrant, uplifting colours are sure to captivate your audience, you need to ensure the colours you use are appropriate for your desired scene and are in keeping with your brand. You wouldn’t find The White Company, for example, displaying primary splashes of yellows and oranges. Instead, they would be showcasing their bright, fresh white products, that they are famous for, against a few subtle hints of silver and gold at Christmas time.


5. Blend inspiration and shopping.

Successful retailers understand they need to offer more than just a great selection of products at a reasonable price; they also have to offer the lifestyle that goes with it, too.

Christmas visual merchandising display in stores

Ikea is a great example of clever display merchandising that blends both inspiration and shopping, as they take you on a complete customer journey. Ikea has become more than just a furniture brand, and that is purely down to the design of its stores. They get you hooked on entry, from the layout to the psychological tricks. Ikea stores appeal to your subconscious mind, with their layout appearing very familiar to customers' homes. Their mock-up rooms filled with staged furniture, pillows and other comfort feeling goods make customers feel at home instantly. They do not, however, become complacent with familiarity and hope it sells; they provide the pleasure of discovery too as there are always new and unexpected items to discover at every turn.

You need to use what is called a ‘take me home’ strategy. Your shopper, for example, didn’t even know they wanted some new cushions, but now they’ve seen them creatively displayed in a mock-up living room, you can guarantee they’ve already pictured how they would look in their own home set up.