That Was Then, This Is Now: How Technology Has Positively Changed the Visual Merchandising Role

Author
Kylie Quirke

By Kylie Quirke, Head of Retail at ReStore for Retail
 

Many of us who have worked in a retail store have experienced a floorset change.  My first job was in a retail store and during my first Friday closing shift, I was asked to complete a floorset change by following the directives of a planogram. This included taking an entire wall of products down, changing the display and setting up a new display with different products.

That was then

In the mid-90s, we would have to wait for each week’s arrival of our visual merchandising materials, including the printed planograms depicting how to set up the next floorset. Materials sent from the home office were frequently delayed during the shipping process. These delays negatively impact sales since promotions could not be run without proper signage and product discount directives. District managers were required to make frequent trips to their store locations to approve floorsets and ensure a positive in-store customer experience. This greatly impacted their efficiency and ability to complete the district manager's additional responsibilities.  

Moving forward into the 2000s, online shopping was beginning to gain popularity, but most customers still shopped in person. I watched as the ease and accessibility of online sales began to trump the in-store customer experience due to the advancement of technology.

Despite the loss of in-store sales to online, the technological advances did help store operations and thus, advanced the in-store customer experience. These visual merchandisers had the ability to use email to send photos of store displays, no longer requiring such frequent in-store visits from district managers. Turnaround times for feedback and changes from district managers to visual merchandisers decreased, but they still lacked an organizational tool to manage their daily store operations and communicate directly and efficiently with their corporate offices.

The emergence of mobile technology in retail store locations allowed near real-time global communications loops from the store floor to the corporate office. Visual merchandisers gained the ability to snap a photo of a display and immediately share it with their district managers for feedback and approval.

This is now

Today, the role of a visual merchandiser remains much the same as it always has. The difference is the technology visual merchandisers have available to them.  With technology like Hilco Global’s ReStore for Retail, district managers and visual merchandisers can communicate visual merchandising projects in real time.   Corporate managers can connect with each store location globally, allowing them to understand the look of their stores as their customers would experience it in real time. Visual merchandisers can now spend significantly less time following up and collating photos and reports from stores. It gives them more time to spend digesting, reviewing and providing feedback and coaching to their store teams.

The cost of ownership of the technology is also affordable.  For the monthly cost of a one-hour shift as a visual merchandiser, retailers can simplify daily store operations so staff can spend more time connecting with customers and improving their bottom line.

Retail technology has come a long way since my first retail store position. Back then, I could only dream of having a platform like ReStore for Retail to provide to visual merchandisers on the floor today.

About the author

Kylie Quirke is a veteran retail executive with experience in retail teams, buying, planning, marketing, logistics, store experience and e-commerce. She is Head of Retail, Asia Pacific, Hilco Merchant Resources and ReStore for Retail

Contact her at kquirke@restoreforretail.com to find out how ReStore for Retail can improve your stores' operations.

 

ReStore for Retail enables people in retail to get back to the business of retailing