6 Visual Merchandising Tricks to Increase Your Sales Per Square Foot

Visual Merchandising Tricks | Shopify Retail blog

As most retailers know, there’s more to selling than meets the eye.

The majority of the information our brains process (83%) comes in through our sense of sight. That’s right. We’re overwhelmingly visual when digesting information in comparison to our other senses. If you’ve ever mulled over the importance of your store’s visual identity, this statistic should catch your attention.

Think of it this way: Every inch of your store costs you money. Now, think of the areas in your store that have the potential to make you money. You can’t afford to settle with unappealing and ineffective in-store displays.

That’s where visual merchandising comes in. Visual merchandising is a time-tested retail concept that focuses on enhancing the aesthetic appeal of a product or store to attract customers and increase sales.

There are many tricks of the trade that retailers can use to optimize every square foot of a store. So, let’s look at how you can maximize your merchandising to boost sales.

1. Consider Display Colors

Color plays a major role in luring a would-be customer into your store. It also has the power to evoke strong emotions and influence the way your product is perceived. Our brains — being hyper visual — attribute certain emotions to specific colors. While blue and green are calming, red and orange are considered arousing.

Research suggests people are more likely to recall a color over an object or product. The same study says shoppers make a purchasing decision within 90 seconds of interacting with a product, and over 60% of the assessment is based on color alone.


  • Bold colors catch the eye. However, if you notice your neighbor’s window displays are full of reds and oranges, go with a darker palette to create a stark contrast.
  • Using a subtle backdrop can help keep your customer’s attention on the products you’re looking to sell. There’s a reason many retailers opt for solid-colored backgrounds (particularly solid white or black): Your products really pop in this scenario.

Season after season, high-fashion brands like Moschino demonstrate their mastery of the window display by exploring both sides of the color spectrum.

Moschino London window display | Shopify Retail blog

Image Credit: Retail Store Windows 

2. Play With Signage

Signage can be directional, informational, or promotional. Smart visual cues guide your customer through your store strategically and provide them with the information they need, when they need it. Think of signage as an effective go-to source of information when your sales team is busy with other customers.

The human attention span is around eight seconds. So, make sure your customer can find what they’re looking for in that time, or you risk losing them.


  • Play with graphics, imagery, and iconography to add personality to your store’s visual identity and draw your customer in. Your signs can serve up the information customers need while still being an extension of your brand — so have fun with them.
  • Ensure your signage can be understood at a glance. Use large, bold copy wherever possible.
  • Task a friend or family member with locating a high-selling product in your store and observe their behavior. Note where they expect to see information and be sure to place signage in those key areas.

Dri Dri Gelato signage | Shopify Retail blog

Image Credit: Dri Dri Gelato

This pop-up gelato store in London does everything possible to visually pull you in. Conveniently, it displays their delicious selection of treats on the front window, allowing the customer to make a quick decision as to whether they want to enter or not.

3. Let There be Light

Lighting shapes the overall atmosphere of your store and helps draw a shopper’s attention to a particular item in a display. Like signage, it can elegantly guide the shopper to the areas of the store you want to highlight.

There are three techniques in lighting composition — primary lighting, accent lighting, and ambient lighting.

Primary lighting is the overall illumination of your store. Accent lighting draws the shopper’s focus to a specific display. Ambient lighting tends to be more dramatic in that it plays light off of shadow to create an intriguing effect.

A recent field study looked at lighting’s impact on customer behavior. The research found that customers spent more time in areas of the store that had warmer lighting and that the average sales per customer increased by 1.93% when a dynamic lighting installation was introduced.


  • Be careful not to set your primary lighting too dim, as it makes the largest overall impact and can affect the customer experience. Contrast makes perception easier.
  • Accent lighting should be used sparsely to avoid cannibalizing its effect. Be thoughtful about which products you want to highlight. For example, consider using accents on the lower levels of a shelving unit which might not naturally attract a shopper’s gaze.

4. Tell a Story With Product Grouping

    The way you group products on display can attract customer attention and even jumpstart their imagination with ideas on how they can be used. Start by telling a story. For example, appeal to the inner baker by placing intricate cake platters alongside cake servers and cake mix. Items can be grouped based on color scheme or use, but the aim is to tie it all together.


    • Use the rule of three when creating displays. You’re more likely to capture a customer’s gaze when their brain is triggered by imbalance. This can really be applied to all odd numbers.
    • Try including an object in your display that will make the customer stop and look twice. Incorporate something that almost seems odd or out of place.

    Sarah Parker menswear | Shopify Retail blog

    Image Credit: Pinterest

    Wait, is that teapot floating?!

    5. Establish a Hierarchy

    Your displays risk fading into the horizon when you present all of them at a uniform height. Experiment with varying heights to create visual contrast and capture customer interest and boost engagement with your products.


    • Try angling your displays at 90 degrees rather than laying them flat horizontally. This makes it easier for the customer to interact with the product.
    • Create a clear focal point and position supporting products cascading below it. This technique is called The Pyramid Principle (for obvious reasons).

    Plum Pretty Sugar, visual hierarchy | Shopify Retail blog

    Image Credit: Glitter Guide

    6. Amp up Your Window Displays

    Your window display is the first impression your customer will have of your physical store. It’s a great place to let shoppers know what’s new, which products are best sellers, and what’s on sale. Think of it as a controlled stage where you can communicate and play with your brand.

    Research from Russell R. Mueller suggests that displays can increase sales by 540%, and a well-planned hotspot can increase sales by 229%. Hotspots are the areas of your store that get the most traffic and are the most visible.

    Visual hierarchy, color in retail | Shopofy Retail blog

    Image Credit: Pinterest


    • Use repeating elements to create a powerful display and showcase a variation of products.
    • Avoid clutter. Ensure there’s adequate space around products you’re featuring — busy displays tell a muddled story and are less likely to convert browsers into customers.
    • Aim to update your display at least once a month to keep attracting customers into your store. Bring your most current inventory up front and center to lure even repeat customers in to see what’s new.

    Incorporating Technology into Visual Merchandising

    If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that the impact of digital media in the retail space is only growing.

    More than half of those surveyed (63%) in a recent report admitted that digital signage catches their attention. Digital elements like interactive touchscreens that allow shoppers to search, browse, and share will continue to be integrated into in-store displays. Wearable and beacon technology will also add an additional layer of interactivity for tech-savvy consumers.

    Experimenting with the above tried-and-true techniques is a great place to start, but keep your eyes open to trends that you can add to your visual merchandising mix in the future.

    What visual merchandising methods have you used to bolster your sales? Share your advice in the comments below.