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Tips to maximize visual merchandising during COVID

By Andrea Alvarez
Director of Marketing and Product Development for Bridal
WW Displays

We always think about key factors in how to stay organized and clean (a crisp store is always trending!) to maximize visual merchandising but also to efficiently keep the possibility of spreading germs to a minimum- this is always an important practice in retail but especially now with COVID.

Store layout

This is very important for the sake of clients, family and friends and for the employees to be able to function through the appointment.

Is there flow to your space? A natural path people will take through the store that can allow lookers to browse but keep them moving in a forward direction? You could accomplish this in many ways, with a main attraction towards the back of the store, with colors and displays that carry your eye line to the back and now during with Covid even with some form of arrows on the floor!

One of the most common ways for this is to use dress racks and the space to guide the direction. Our free standing dress racks really help make this possible. Free standing racks working directionally with the wall racks essentially creates aisles for the customers to browse through, these aisles then allow you to direct and prevent gathering. This also keeps your dresses organized(sometimes streamlines inventory), and when you wall racks and free standing racks are visually cohesive it keeps a design cohesive and is even a great opportunity to really keep your store on brand. 

Fitting room/viewing room locations

As we get more and more new stores building right now (which is incredibly exciting to see that Covid has not stopped these business owners and they are managing to navigate their way through), we almost always encourage them to spread out fitting rooms. Locating them in more private areas of the store to allows groups to remain separated for not only a more private and intimate experience but also a more safe experience! *The only time we do no encourage this is when the space doesn’t allow for it and the owner is set at the amount of rooms they need or a specific layout they want.

Reception

As per any retail location these days an acrylic barrier is a great method to help minimize the possibility from germs passing. Whether we are making a reception counter for the customer or they need one for an already existing counter or a barrier created for another space we can produce an aesthetically pleasing option. *That being said this is based on availability of the plastic/acrylic, manufacturers are clearly in high demand and their supply runs short frequently.

Waiting area

Of course during these times store occupancy is often limited but we do still suggest a very spaced out seating area.

If you do have a section with multiple seating options these should be divided by coffee tables, or side tables. One of my favorite options to suggest for these spaces are shadow tables. These can be custom designed for anyone’s unique store and not only do they force distancing but they also can house accessories that people can window shop while waiting.

Because they are under a glass top this also keeps hands and germs off of them! *We have also see stores take advantage of outside space they may have never considered…much like outdoor dinning.

Refreshments could be offered like bottled water or individual champagne while they wait and incredibly cost effective trellises could be used as dividers to enforce the separation of groups. Since you don’t want people sharing magazines the stores could provide printable news letters the guests can read while waiting. Then they could throw them away or have a keep sake from the experience!

Accessory cases

Aside from veils we do suggest keeping accessories behind glass cases. Preferably ones designed with a form of lock so people don’t assume they can open them themselves. This allows for minimal touching and the opportunity to make sure the accessory is sanitized before it re-enters the case.

Storage pedestals

These are a fantastic option for fitting rooms or any other space in the store you would like a “sanitize station” that is discrete. Hand sanitizer readily available is a must on open tables and at easy reach for customers and stylists but places like your fitting rooms you want other (probably larger bottles of cleaner) available but not in plain sight.

You want to be able to wipe down surfaces after appointments but not make it look like the cleaning lady left her cleaning bucket out afterwords or have to leave the area unattended and unclean to go grab these supplies. Obviously, these then allow you to display something on top, like accessories, or even be used as a table for a bowl of clips or anything else that would be needed for the appointment.

Dividing services

This one is a little more tricky and requires the availability of space. If possible we do suggest having different points of access for different services. Ideally we would say different entrances but realistically that just won’t be an option.

For services like dress pick ups/alterations, if the store houses tuxedos, or any other service that would not be the typical “find the dress bridal appointment” you could have an alternative reception for guests to proceed to.

This reception could be something as simple as a hostess style stand where they can be further directed. If your store is busy this helps prevent a bottle neck in the entry way. When people have to wait they tend to slowly start wondering or closing in on space… neither of which you want during covid.

Lighting

I know this sounds a little out there but we also always consider the effects of proper lighting.

When you have a retail space cleanliness is one of the absolute most important parts of visual merchandising. You can have a stunning store in photos but if your customers walk in and the store is covered in dust or displays are made of materials that cannot be wiped down, you can see finger prints on mirrors/glass or the store looks dingy because the lighting is wrong… you momentum will be cut short by negative reviews and word of mouth.

It isn’t the fun part of the job but you need functional lighting along with the jaw dropping chandeliers. You need to see dust on the baseboards so they can be cleaned, you need to see the smudge on your front desk and fingerprints in the fitting room and clean it before a customer sees it and assumes “ wow if that is there, there’s no way this place is getting sanitized”… also a number of salons and offices are using  UVC light to help purify their stores. This is an option to do every night after the store closes for a deeper sanitization.

 

WW Displays is a family owned business providing custom retail displays since 1984, and can be reach at (847) 566-6979, www.WWDisplays.com

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