June 5-7, 2024 • Broward County Convention Center • Fort Lauderdale, FL

10 Million-Dollar Ways to Master a Store Makeover Without Breaking the Bank

by Cindy Hanauer


Summer is behind us and the hustle-bustle of the fall season is propelling us into the profitable Fall-Winter holiday season- the springboard of our total-year’s financial success!

After the slow-down of summer, we’re pursuing new ideas to remodel and refresh our departments. But because the summer slow-down has put pressure on the balance sheet, it’s incumbent upon us to find new, low-cost ways to invigorate and delight our customers.

Visual merchandising is all about communication and creativity. And creativity involves breaking out of old, established patterns so our customers look at us in a whole new way. Effective visual merchandising requires more than changing products from summer geraniums to fall mums. To achieve true customer delight, the foundation of the department-much deeper than product, alone-must change. So how do we master a store makeover without breaking the bank? Check out these inspiring display principles that are inspirational, engaging and cost-effective:

  1. Color-Blocking: Opposing Colors Paired Together
    So, let’s start with the basics. Most seasoned merchants are familiar with color-blocking, but during a store make-over, the basics must be reinforced for peak effectiveness. There’s no other time of year when color-blocking is fundamentally critical to create an impactful store. In addition to vertical color-blocking, try horizontal color-blocking for a change and stair-step product by height for easy customer access.
  2. Mono-Chromatic: A Visual Resting Place
    For additional visual impact, add a few monochromatic displays among the color-blocked displays to give the customers’ eyes a rest as they scope the entire department landscape. Too many colors-without a resting place for the eyes-will seem confusing to the customer and they will likely keep on walking. Color-blocking is impactful, but be sure to build a few of these “visual resting places” within the store’s overall plan-o-gram.
  3. Backdrops: The Added Ambiance
    Nowadays, almost every corner print shop can produce amazing paper backdrops at a very low cost. Backdrops add dimension and interest to stores who are positioned against a dull wall or set in the middle of a store with no walls at all! Backdrops can become built-in advertising that a customer simply cannot miss!

Here are some other low-cost backdrop ideas:

Here are some other store make-over ideas using natural wood products:

  • Wood Pallets: There’s nothing easier than a pre-made pallet display that moves turnkey from receiving to display! Work with your suppliers to keep labor to a minimum by developing display pallets that can be shipped and displayed in seconds! With the right products and display design, a pallet display can add both beauty to the store and labor-savings to the bottom line!
  • Wood Crates: Crates can be used in a humble form, or as a foundation for a high-style vignette. Don’t disregard crates because of their rough appearance! Today’s most avant garde’ displays include earthy components mixed with clean, glistening accents!
  • Tree Trunk Slices: Have you seen these? They make a great platform on top of boring black cubes, and add visual interest to any display, whether fresh-cuts or potted plants! Tree Slices can be purchased at your local lumber yard for as little as $5 each and they add the perfect low-cost dimension to Fall, Christmas and Spring displays!

    5. Aluminum: The Universal Element!
    Aluminum adds a polished element to every color and texture! Old, rusty, metal displays become modern and brand new when re-painted with silver metallic, and using an inexpensive can of paint, your old fixtures can be revitalized at a super low cost.

Love the aluminum look? Here are some other ways to use metals:
Display Racks: There are many ways to use metal display racks both outside and inside. The key component of an effective display rack is allowing plenty of room for the customer to shop the display, topped off with enticing signs and packaging.

6. Corrugation: The Loyal Friend!
Who hasn’t relied on boxes as a quick-fix to get inventory out of the back room and on display before the holidays? Boxes are versatile, sturdy, lightweight and easy! Add a little wrapping paper, and you’re done! Better yet, work with your suppliers to design display-ready boxes to save time, labor and profits!

Modern corrugation comes in all shapes, sizes and colors ranging from display boxes to corrugated columns. By covering boring boxes with bold modern colors, a corrugated display will attract and delight your customers as well as expensive fixturing!

7. Packaging: Your 24/7 Salesperson!
A store makeover isn’t complete without reviewing your store packaging. Quality packaging attracts, protects, and informs. The right packaging is a core part of store merchandising, and it will mentally connect the consumer with the product in a way that no other store component can. Need convinced? What’s the first thing that attracts you to these products? You bet! The
boring display pieces go unnoticed because the packaging itself is flawless!

8. Suspension: It’ll Elevate the Display!
There’s a tried-and-true rule used by interior designers when decorating a small room. Their mantra is, “If you can’t go out…then go UP!” Thus, if you look at most home décor magazines, almost every small room has a bold, tall element raised toward the ceiling. By doing this, the small room becomes visually large and impressive. The same rule can be used in-store where many of our floral departments are lacking in square footage. Don’t let the vertical space of your stores go unused! Think creatively to elevate the customers’ eyes upward with a powerful statement overhead!

9. Lower Inventory: Higher Standards!
Whether it’s a fresh-cut display or a potted plant display, the visual quality of a display can be effective even when inventory reaches a low point. The same design rules used in a large display will make a small display equally impressive: Balance, color grouping, assortment, height, and freshness.

Your Masterpiece: Your Calling Card!
Last but not least, every store should have at least one “calling card” on display daily which profiles their best work! If a customer only sees $15 arrangements on display, they’ll assume that higher price-points are not available. Encourage store employees to have a specific place to display their best masterpiece arrangement each day, and the store will soon become the go-to for high-end work!

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