VISUAL MERCHANDISING DESIGN PROCESS
Definition of Visual merchandising
Visual merchandising is defined as an activity(s) or a profession(s) which involves development of floor plans and 3-D displays so as to maximize sales. The benefits and salient features of a product can be highlighted in such displays. Visual merchandising is commonly evident in retail shops where it helps in attracting customers, engaging them with the product or services through its features which will motivate them towards buying the product or service (Diamond, 2011).
The main purpose of Visual merchandising is to enable the customers to locate and find their desired product or services easily. It helps customers to select the product they need on their own by educating them about the benefits and standing features of the product. Visual merchandising is viewed as a process rather than just a one time activity since it is designed to meet its purpose (Gianfranco, 2011).Therefore, this report will look at it in such a perspective as I give an overview of the visual merchandising process design.
Part 1: NPD Process Models and Visual Merchandising
- Process Introduction
Process is that linking of actions or that interaction of stages or sequences which relate to management of a phenomenon, control over it or a response to it. It also involves that development from a problem to a solution in a particular situation (Strauss, 1990).
New product development (NPD) is that complete and thorough process of emerging a new product or service into the market. NPD involve s activities like market research, idea generation, product design and analysis of the market to see how the product will be received or what qualities do consumers want in the product and include them in the product. All these activities take place concurrently or in parallel so that one is affected by the other and influences the other. In other words, the activities in NPD overlap each other and affect each other because they keep going back and fourth (Takeuchi, 1986).
Many firms now have started to include material suppliers in their NPD so as to ensure quality of supplies and responsibility of the suppliers of the materials. It also helps in getting more ideas on the product development by ensuring a wide area of expertise is involved. In the past, NPD was a process that involved distinct stages one after the other but now it has been transformed to have the stages which overlap each other (Petersen, 2005).
- The NPD process models
NPD process models are classified according to their objectives. According to cooper (1983), models can be classified as either normative or descriptive. Normative models are based on experience, successful NPD or case studies. Normative models can be used in systematization and clarification of processes.
Cooper’s stage gate model
These models are basically made of activity development periods and points of evaluating these activities. These points are the ones referred to as gates and this is where the decision of whether to continue with the next activity or not is made (Cooper, 1994).
Figure shows stage-gate model by R.G.Cooper (www.12manage.com)
The decision to move to the next stage is done by the management or decision making team depending on the available resources or information so as to proceed to the next step. It may also include risk assessment before proceeding (cooper, 1994).
The stages include scooping which is the first market research. Building of business is the second stage which commercial feasibility of the product to be developed. The third stage is development which includes a business plan and set standards and quality statements. The fourth stage is testing and validation which seeks to foresee any coming dangers to ensure no undesirable surprises show up during the process. The last stage is launch and this turns the idea to commercial hence the production of the product begins at this stage (Cooper, 1994).
The gates include the first idea screening, the second screening after research is done, then the third evaluation before going to development, the fourth gate is before testing and the fifth is before launch of the production (Cooper, 1994).
Generalized Product Design Process model
This was a flow chart design process model developed by Open University in 1992. It involved several interlinked stages starting with design brief, then problem clarification, then product design specifications, then the conceptual design, then the concepts scrutiny, then the embodiment stage, then the selection of favorable scheme, then the detailed design stage and finally the working drawings and instructions needed for the manufacture of the product (Pugh, 1991).
Stuart Pugh then developed this process further to come up with a design core which showed how the resources we have can be integrated to design process and how such resources determines the activities to be done in a certain stage and then affect the overall outcome of the process. At the core we have the design process and stages, while on one side we have the technology available and the other side is the techniques we will employ to get the job done or to take the process forward. Below is a figure showing S. Pugh’s design core (Pugh, 1991).
- Visual merchandising in marketing mix
Marketing mix is defined as inclusion or combination of various elements in the marketing process. Among these elements used in marketing are the 4 P’s which stands for price, place, promotion and product. When all these elements are put together in marketing, the person is able to have a crystal clear picture of the target market or audience (Little, 1975).
Visual marketing is a vital tool in marketing mix. It will involve designing the shop floor in a way that it will appeal the customers and attract them. This means that it should be relevant to the place, price, product and the promotion to be used. Therefore, visual marketing should always come under the roof of 4P’s, which most people consider is the fifth element of marketing mix but dependent on other 4 elements (Kerfoot, 2003).
The figure below shows how the four Ps relate to each other in a marketing mix.
- Visual Merchandising in Marketing Strategy
Marketing strategy is the process by which a company is able to concentrate on the optimal markets and favorable markets for their products so as to maximize sales and counter their competitors sustainably. These strategies are in form of goals and plans the company is going to use in marketing (Peter, 1999).
Marketing strategy involves the 4Ps mentioned above. It is shown that the 4Ps mainly involves “people” and “process” (Jackson, 2008).
Marketing strategy involves the analysis of both external and internal environments. Internal environments will include things like marketing mix, modeling of marketing mix, strategic constraints and analysis of performance. External environment includes things like target market, customer analysis, competitor analysis, economic environment, technological advances and support, as well as political, cultural and legal environment (Peter, 1999).
- Visual Merchandising model network
Visual merchandizing is one of the parts of design in totality. Visual merchandising network shows a basic network of how merchandiser, sales advisors, retail managers and buyers and all their activities link with the visual merchandising. Visual merchandising is now viewed as part of buying rather than a separate entity like before. Visual merchandising narrows down to identity and performance of the product as shown in the figure below (Li, 2002).
- Product Development Framework
This is the process of developing a line of new products or modifying the already existing products so that they will appear as new products in the market and then introducing them to an existing market or a new market. It is necessary to listen to the input or the voice of the customer to get better results of the product developed. The customers’ input is sought at various stages of development (Clark, 1991).
Part 2: Visual Merchandising Theory
Visual mechanization theories are those procedures and written down facts which explain how to do visual merchandising. They will list down all the factors necessary for this process so that it becomes a success to the initiator or to the organization undertaking it. The figure below shows the necessary visual merchandising success factors (Kerfoot, 2003). Many theories have come up that different colors mean different things to different people. But every person has a way they react to different colors. The following is a list of how people feel about different colors. Yellow: cowardice, caution and madness, green: luck, nature, wealth and outdoors, white: purity and truth, black: death and sorrow, brown: maturity and humility, blue: fear and fidelity among others (Kerfoot, 2003).
Part 3: Developed Visual Merchandising Model
- Brain storming and idea generation: this will come from the ideas of many stake holders in this sector including the client remarks
- Understand your idea plan or design: put down your plan on paper in a way that you can communicate it.
- Pick out the departments that are involved, know the fixtures available and how they will be put to use. Also understand the key players.
- Generate various designs with players; together with the team come up with versatile designs.
- Criticize and evaluate the designs; evaluate if the design is viable and select the best which suits all the customers’ or markets specifications
- Execute the design; implement the design selected above paying attention to design details of the product
- Follow up and monitor; make sure it is produced per the design
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