If you are a retailer who understand the importance of visual design but are not talented and don’t have the money to spend on a visual merchandiser or have the time to create displays, this article is for you.

It was written by retail consultant Rick Segel who has a variety of programs, books and services tailored to increase your retail sales.
Photos are from the Mannequin Madness Pinterest boards on window displays – we have a board for every season, holiday and retail industry.

Here are 10 tips that can help you make your visual presentation more  effective and not cost a lot.


1.    Customers don’t bend, stretch or reach. We have to display merchandise to make it easy for the customer to touch and examine. However, read point #2.

2.    Where the eyes go, the feet will follow. If the design is eye-catching enough, you will see how customers will be drawn to the display and might even stretch or reach. They will do that if – read point #3.

3 Color is king. If merchandise is placed by color or if the background the merchandise is on is coordinated with the right colors, it will compensate for poor displays. Just look at a presentation of towels in a big box store. It’s the color that sells you and not the product.

Do not lose sight that a background color can bring together different types of merchandise. A store that has all yellow or white background with shelving that is the same color can make the merchandise pop.


4.      Change for the sake of change is good. Very rarely can we say that. We have all had experiences moving merchandise from one side of the store to the other, just exchanging places where merchandise is, and customers make comments, “Hey, you got a lot of new merchandise in.”

5.    When customers come into the store, they will naturally go to the right. As a store owner you need to know that. If you want them to go to the left, you must have a strong display to bring them there.

6.    The most important part of your interior design and display is your Threshold Area. That’s the first 10-15 feet where the customer first enters the store. I believe the Threshold Area should be comprised of the elements in point #7.

7.    A display of the type of merchandise the store is best known for is #1 – a display of some type of promotional offering to demonstrate price sensitivity would be #2 and finally signage that welcomes and highlights upcoming events.

8.    Interior advertising and signage – this is the most under-utilized tool in retail today. Signs are not just sale signs. They consist of the points in #9.

9.    Informative signs can give direction or tell the store’s policies. Selling signs offer price incentives or descriptive sell words, like new and different. And entertaining and educational signs captivate customers when they are in the store.


10.  The best sources for great window design people are art students who want to create work for their portfolios.  You can be a successful retailer without that fashion flare or sense of style – IF you recognize those challenges or deficiencies you have in  artistic skills and are smart enough to hire people who are good at it.

Bonus: The best prop to use is foam board which is a pressed smooth

Styrofoam that can be shaped, painted and is lightweight and can be stored with very little space.


No, you don’t want to spend a lot of money on visual merchandising; it’s one of those expenses we are always trying to cut because it is considered by many as a discretionary expense. The stores that really get it realize that it is a mandatory expense to retail success.

You can save money on your visual merchandising expenses by purchasing used mannequins and fixtures that you can find on craigslist, Ebay and from vendors like Mannequin Madness.