The window dressing industry, for starters, has evolved into more than just windows -- it is now the "visual merchandising" industry -- the sum of windows, in-store displays, advertisements, and the general store or brand image/feel that is associated with a particular store or brand. The windex wielding, pin-cushion wearing, ladder climbing people we see walking barefoot in 5th avenue windows are not just window dressers, but visual merchandisers.
Below is an excerpt from an article by Tappal Babu, EzineArticles.com Expert Business Author, that defines the industry in non-trade friendly language:
ROLE OF VISUAL MERCHANDISING Visual merchandising is an artistic method to ensure that retailers merchandise moves off the shelves faster. It's a tool to appeal to the visual sensory elements of the customer. Visual merchandising is an unknown skill which is fastly becoming popular with the introduction of self service in retail stores in recent years and the number of changes taking place in super market merchandising methods. There has been increased emphasis on the kind of store layout, store building, fixtures, and equipment, color displays, silent communication tools, window display and finally opinion building through in store displays which has taken the art of retailing the higher applications frames.
The bottom line is:
Visual merchandising helps in the increase of impulse buying.
But how does it do so?
The article continues:
a) Establishing a creative medium to present merchandise in 3 D environment, with which a long lasting impact and recall value.
b) Combining the creative, technical, and operational aspects of a product and the business.
c) Educating the customers about the product/services in an effective and creative or innovative manners.
d) Drawing the attention of the customer to enable him to purchase decisions in the short space of time and this augmenting the selling process.
Many thanks to Tabbal
All valuable points to keep in mind as I compare, contrast and critique the different visual merchandising strategies of different stores in Manhattan.