By Nancy Dewald,

Lead UP Training and Consulting


Humans respond best to visual stimuli – consumers’ decisions are subconsciously influenced by a store’s aesthetic and how that makes us feel.

Knowing this helps us understand why visual merchandising is critical to our success.


What is visual merchandising?

The art of presentation, which puts merchandise in focus to enhance its sales appeal.

There is a misconception that visual merchandising is decorating when, in fact, it is about sales and productivity.


What are the payoffs of good visual merchandising?

  1. Enhances the consumer shopping experience

Raise your hand if daily you hear consumers say, “I hate shopping for glasses.” If you do not sell the eyewear, ask your team. Consumers outright tell us we need to improve this experience. You can lower your hand now.

Organizing and presenting in a manner that feels less overwhelming is a big part of improving the experience. Product that is organized, displayed simply and clutter-free with proper signage is pleasing for the human eye and brain.

Make it easier for consumers to shop by keeping brands together. If a consumer likes a particular brand, they want to know what is available in that brand without searching.

Separate metals and plastics within the brand. Organize light to dark, top to bottom and on a shelf left to right.

When the consumer can quickly narrow down what they like because the product is well organized, they are more inclined to buy.


  1. Increases sales

When displaying product, how it’s displayed will influence how much someone would pay. For example, something mass merchandised on tables or stacked indicates there is lots of supply, therefore, is inexpensive. This type of display would be used for contact lens solutions, accessories or sale frames. Items nicely displayed with few items would indicate they are more exclusive and, therefore, more expensive. Product priced in between the high and low should be evenly spaced on shelves and bars.

Consider the flow of your office. Watch where consumers gravitate to. This is your key retail space. Leverage this space for bestsellers and new lines, promotions, or lines you are determining to go forward with or not.


  1. Improves inventory management

Organized product helps you know immediately what is selling and where to invest.

Most importantly, when everything has a place, it deters internal and external theft. The saying less is more is true.

I recall helping one practice and the owner informed me he had more than 1,500 frames and people still walked because they could not find what they liked. The problem was they had too much selection and consumers were too overwhelmed to even try to find what they liked. Limit the number of brands you carry and have proper depth in those brands.


  1. Allows a practice to stand out in a competitive marketplace

Display brand images. In optometry, we carry amazing brands. We need to highlight them more. These companies spend millions of dollars on advertising – take full advantage of that. Brand recognition will keep a consumer in your dispensary as they will gravitate to a brand they know; it makes them feel comfortable.

I often get asked about décor – is it ok to add in seasonal items or nice decor? This is fine if the focus remains on the product. Décor may be used to enhance the display, but never to distract from the product you are selling. Be sure displays are simple, clean, and current. Consumers do not want to see fall leaves in January.


Common mistakes to avoid:

The visual appearance of your office sends a message beyond the organization of the product for sale. Take a moment to look around to ensure you aren’t making common mistakes:


Be sure it aligns with your brand; the message is clear and current.

Some examples. During COVID, did the sign on your door say, “the door is locked” or did it say, “welcome, for your safety notify us you are here and we will meet you at the door.”

Is the signage in the office tattered and taped up versus placed in a picture frame?

Is your office branded as a fashion leader yet displays eye disease pictures everywhere?


Windows and lighting

Front windows are a silent salesperson. What are they selling? If they have window clings are they in good repair?

Lighting should be shining on the product. I often see it set on floors and ceilings, unless that is what you are selling it’s time to get out the ladder.

When merchandising, business owners have the option of simply putting their products on shelves and hoping customers will make purchases. Or savvy business owners can learn the key factors that prompt shoppers to buy.

We can do better in our industry and I am happy to help.


Lead UP Training and Consulting are visual merchandising experts. Reach out for a complimentary consultation or to hear more about our services.