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The basics of visual merchandising!

Do you want your market stall to draw customers to you, stand out and look amazing? Then you need to understand visual merchandising.

Visual merchandising refers to anything that can be seen by the customer. The aim is to draw them into your retail space by displaying goods in an attractive and inviting way while engaging & motivating them to buy.

Visual merchandising is used by every single retail outlet worldwide for a reason – it sells their products! Just because you have a small market stall not a large retail store the principles are the same and done right will increase your sales.

You do not need to spend a lot of money to create product displays that beautifully display your products and convey the message of your business. Below we will go through some fundamentals of visual merchandising.


Use of space - When first planning your stall think about how you will use all the space available to you so that all your products can be shown in the most effective way. A great place to start is taping out your stall area in your lounge before the market and think about the below and plan

· How can you use as much of your stall space as possible?

· Can you move your table back to create more floor space?

· If I have a corner can I use two tables to allow customers from both sides to view my products? Or can I create a corner in the space I have?

· Can you use height in your stall space?

· How will you hide all your packing supplies and boxes etc from customer view?

· Have I left enough space to exit my space?

Focal points - When designing your stand, you want to create a focal point in your display to draw the customers eye, and then their body, into your stall space. Why do we do this? Because focal points can increase sales!

Ask yourself:

· Where does the viewer’s eye focus on your display?

· Do their eyes move toward a specific location on the display or are they confused about where to look?

Look at your display from the customer’s point of view: the top, the floor, both sides. Often the focal point is positioned too high for the customer to see. Always check your displays to ensure customers can easily view the focal point and products.

Organisation and tidiness - Another thing to plan for is making sure your space is tidy and organised, remember your space should look like an extension of the product and therefore of you.

If your space is cluttered, messy and unorganised and the customer can't tell what is for sale and what is a prop or can't get to your products, you are setting yourself up for failure.

Balance - Your stall should be a welcoming and inviting space for people to be drawn to. There are many ways to make your space creative. Try to balance your display so it is at around eye level, then below and above.

So often stallholders forget you can go vertically in your planning to create more space to showcase your products. Make your stall display a combination of height and flat, you want to be able to see your products from afar not just looking straight down on the table

The stall above by The Zen Succulent shows a great example off all the above points. The table being pushed back as far as possible creates more space, the triangular display stand draws the eye to the back of the stand and creates interest due to its height, while the products on the floor area provide balance.


When it comes to props such as display cases, stands, racks and risers used within your stall space try choosing less traditional items to help put your products on show.

Think outside the box and be unique & be authentic to your brand all while keeping your customers in mind. The use of unusual props, that are still relevant to your business, creates excitement for the customer as they are impressed at the cleverness of your thinking and will remember you long after they leave.

A great example of this is one of our vendors Vanessa Owens who was one of the winners of last markets best dressed stall. She is an artist inspired by birds and nature and all her products reflect this. The props she used in her stall included a birdcage, a tree branch, plants and even a real bird’s nest which all have a direct tie to her product.

Another example can be seen below where Australian company Raw Suds use recycled washing tubs, steel & natural timber to display their natural handmade beauty cleaning products. It is also worth noting they also have a focal point (their brand) and the eye flows from back to front.

Or checkout Soaptopia (USA) who showcase their soap products in a real bath, amazing!!

Of course, you don’t have to use out of the box display items, you can also use anything around the home as a prop to enhance your stall space. One tip is to try and keep all of you display props to one or two neutral colours and let the colour of your products be the star. More on colour below.


Colour is powerful, and it can make or break your visual displays. You might create a basic display, but if the colours coordinate well, the display can still be a success. Consider using contrasting colours, like black and white, and monochromatic colours--both create intriguing, eye-catching displays.

Too many times, we lose sight of the power of colour and its ability to attract the eye, remember wherever the eyes go, the feet will follow. So, use colour to catch the eyes of your customers and draw them to your displays.


Another point worth making is customers shop with all their senses, make sure to think about the below and see if any can be applied to your product range.

Touch - Remember to give your customers the ability to touch, feel and test out whatever you are selling. This helps customers foster a sense of ownership over the product they are using and increases the probability that they will buy it.

Smell – do you have a product that smells? If someone smells something they like, it is automatically registered as a positive memory that made them feel good. Scent can be a deciding factor for attracting more long-term customers.

Taste - If your business sells consumables, giving customers the ability to sample products before they buy is a must. Whether they realize it or not, those on the receiving end feel a need to reciprocate, usually by buying the product.

Flowers & plants – The use of flowers and plants (both real and artificial) have been found to make people feel more comfortable, relaxed and natural in the shopping environment. What seller does not want easy-going and happy customers!

Look for ways ways to integrate plants, flowers and foliage into your display to bring your area to life. As you can see below, they can be added simply to your space with great effect.


I cannot say signage enough! The use of signage is vital in any retail space both large and small.

Your signage lets the customer know who you are and about your products. It gives them information to help make their purchasing decisions. You should at the very least be using branding and price tags.

Company name/brand – This one is self-explanatory by using banners, posters etc you are letting the customers know who you are. By doing this it is clear what the business name is and helps customers find you again online after the market.

Price tags - If you do not have price tags on all your items how will customer know the price? They will have to ask you of course. Now take a minute to think about this:

Not all customers are confident enough to engage in a conversation and ask you how much something is. Although they might be very interested in your products their lack of confidence means they may walk away without asking and without purchasing.

Another thing to consider:

If the customer is confident enough to ask the price but you are busy with another customer will they wait to ask, or will they not want to waste their time waiting? If the price is shown and is what they will pay, they will likely wait with the intention to purchase.

Signage can be as fancy or as simple as you want it to be, remember it is better to have something simple than nothing at all!

Other types of signage could include:

· Anything special you want the customers to know about your products at a glance (all ingredients are organic etc).

· Locally made

· Business cards to hand out, this ties in with them being able to find you easily after the market

· Any fun signage which lets the customers know more info or that it is ok to touch/try on, examples below

Here at the Kapiti Indoor Market we value amazing looking stalls so much that we award the best dressed stall award each market. The chosen stallholder will win automatic acceptance and stall fees paid to the next market.

I could go on for many more pages about the importance of visual merchandising and the things to consider. The above will give you a great start at achieving an amazing looking stand and increasing your sales.

Now that the market has grown, we as organisers no longer have our own stall spaces, we have very limited chances to get creative with visual merchandising stall spaces. We are always excited to see what you come up with!

We look forward to seeing what amazing stall creations you come up with in November, in the meantime let us know below what bizarre props you have used in your stall design to date!

Rachel, Nicola & Stef

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