Social Media and Visual Merchandising: 3 Ways to Connect Traditional Merchandising to Your Online Presence

More and more consumers today find new products and trends online, and many use mobile devices while shopping in stores. Take advantage of these trends by ensuring that your brand’s online presence is front and centre by connecting social media and visual merchandising in the retail storefront.

As shoppers turn to Facebook friends, online influencers and brand websites for information, create conversation around your product by connecting your old word retail displays to new world advertising methods.

Use Retail Displays to Build Online Followers

As sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest grow in popularity, successful businesses are integrating traditional advertising with digital marketing strategies.

Just as stores entice consumers with eye-catching window displays, you can draw in buyers by creating an online storefront through a strong presence with social media and visual merchandising. Social media is an efficient form of advertising, allowing you to easily connect with buyers, build a dialogue and create familiarity and trust around your product.

Tie your social media strategy to your in-store advertising by including Facebook and Twitter information on in-store displays and signage. Of course, while shoppers today are technology-savvy, they’re also busy, so a strong call-to-action makes it more likely consumers will connect with you online.

This is where the QR code comes in. This simple printed picture box allows mobile users to quickly and easily connect with you online while standing in the store. You can turn your QR code into a Facebook “like” so that scanning the code results in an automatic “like.” Or use the same strategy for Twitter or any other social media sites.

And what call-to-action is most likely to get them scanning that QR code? Recent studies show that customers want discounts and other offers most. Of course, a tantalizing contest never hurt either.

Social Media and Visual Merchandising - Turn Your Retail Display Into a Knowledgeable Employee

If you’ve ever stood around a store waiting for a salesperson to come along (and who hasn’t?) you know how frustrating it can be. With things to do and places to be, many consumers will walk away from your product if help doesn’t arrive in good time.

Couple that with the fact that employees in large retail stores aren’t likely to be experts in every single product, and you need a different solution for today’s savvy shoppers.

Whether it’s nutrition information for your organic fruit bars or the specs on your life-changing new cell phone, offer the consumer a helping hand by including a QR code on your visual merchandising that links to the appropriate product features and information on your website.

Open Your Product Catalogue to Consumers

If shelf space dictates that you can only sell a fraction of your products in the store, create an endless aisle by linking up mobile-carrying consumers with your full online catalogue. Simply encode your website’s URL on a QR Code to send consumers directly to your full range of product offerings.

Make it more likely that shoppers will visit your site by enticing them with fun invitations. A record label might tantalize shoppers with “See our top-selling albums of all-time” or “See this week’s top 10 albums,” for example.

Contact Middleton Group today to find out how we can help you tie your retail merchandising efforts to social media.

Globalshop Chicago 2013 Success – Evidence of Retail a Merchandising Turnaround?

After a number of years in Las Vegas, Globalshop returns to Chicago, and the turnaround from the downfall of 2008 is finally evident. It was exciting to be there and, from what I could tell, companies are once again investing in retail merchandising.

Globalshop seems happy with ongoing turnaround as is evidenced by increased attendance over past years.

GlobalShop Show Director Tim Fearney said that 2013 marks the third consecutive year the show has seen double-digit growth in qualified attendance. Attendance grew by 11 percent in both 2011 and 2012. In 2012 GlobalShop was named the Fastest Growing Trade Show by Attendance by the Trade Show News Network (TSNN).

“New events and innovative features on the expo floor attracted a number of attendees this year who either hadn’t experienced GlobalShop before, or hadn’t been to the show in several years,” Fearney said. “They were treated to a packed exhibit hall with six pavilions and showcases highlighting different aspects of retail design. These included the Design Inspiration Showcase for retail design firms and the Retail Design Collective Showcase for suppliers with Manhattan showrooms.”

From my point of view, it was refreshing to see the efforts and creativity that were put into this year’s POPAI entries. Everything from temporary corrugated to full merchandising systems were represented. It was evident through the design and use of materials that budget is no longer the only concern when developing retail displays.

As a designer, it is very encouraging to see that companies are refocusing their marketing efforts when it comes to in-store displays. This is in part because retailers are allowing brands to create impactful displays and giving them the space to do so. Take a look at the gallery to see some of the highlights from the 2013 POPAI entries.

Another highlight from the show was this year’s visual merchandising contest which was to design a freestanding display that featured a current brand of headphones. The finalists were showcased at Globalshop and the designs were fantastic.

One of the most interesting entries was the Bob Marley Display. It was a great example of how a material can represent a brand, in this case OSB (pressboard) - an inexpensive material typically used in the construction industry. Other cool entries were a slim design for Bang & Ollsen, a bold entry for Tim McGraw by JBL and a condo-like design for a brand called Urbanears. Please visit the link to see the gallery of entries:

It’s a contest like this that really demonstrates the design and creativity skills in our industry. But I’d like to see one minor change. It’s my opinion that holding a contest using a brand with an upcoming product launch would generate more buzz for the event. The company could provide a detailed brief outlining guidelines and budgets. The finalists would build a prototype for the show. In this scenario the best design wins the production job. I think this could create some major excitement for the show.

For more information on Globalshop 2013 or the upcoming Globalshop 2014 in Las Vegas, visit

The Basics of Point Of Purchase Advertising

At Middleton Group, we work hand in hand with our clients. We guide clients through the merchandising process, helping them to create the best possible point of purchase advertising.

Here’s a few of the basic things you should know when considering point of purchase advertising for your business.

POP Categories

POP displays fall under three main categories:

  • temporary (1 to 3 months)
  • semi-permanent (3 to 6 months)
  • permanent (6 months+)

Temporary displays are often used for new product promotions. They are economical and ideal for large quantity rollouts. Semi-permanent displays are the answer to display mid-priced retail goods.

“Permanent displays, if they are designed well, will allow you to display different items throughout the year without incurring the cost of brand new displays,” says Middleton Group President & CEO Rob Stratton. “Look for versatility in these displays that will allow the units to remain functional for years to come.”

Point of purchase advertising typically showcases:

  • lifestyle images
  • seasonal merchandise
  • new products
  • new styles
  • special price merchandise/sale items
  • featured items
  • features and benefits

POP displays are found at almost all retail outlets, from convenience stores to big box and department stores. They take a variety of forms, from cosmetic counter displays to complete wall fixture programs in large department stores.

Some common types of displays include:

  • floor displays
  • standees
  • valances
  • end caps
  • gondola fixtures
  • dump bins
  • kiosks
  • pallet programs
  • interactive touch screen displays
  • wayfinding/navigational
  • pin-mounted lettering
  • fixtures

3 Visual Merchandising Questions You Should Consider Before Your Next Retail Display Project

If you want your brand to stand out in today’s busy marketplace, effective visual merchandising is a top priority. Point of Purchase (POP) displays significantly impact consumer buying decisions at the store level. A strong display can generate the attention that you know your product deserves. Here’s 3 visual merchandising questions we think you’ll want to get answers to:

1) What general visual merchandising questions should I be able to answer before starting my project?

The more information you can provide up front to a visual merchandiser, the faster they can start building your displays. Some factors to think about when contacting a visual merchandiser include:

  • Are you looking for a temporary or more permanent display?
  • What product are you displaying and how many do you want to place on each display? (A product sample is a big help!)
  • Where will the product be displayed?
  • Are there any in-store restrictions on dimensions or weight?
  • How many colours will the piece be printed in?
  • What quantity do you need?
  • What’s your budget?
  • What’s your timeframe?

2) What materials should I use?

“The materials used are based on budget, quantity of displays needed and design factors,” says Middleton Group President & CEO Rob Stratton. “Materials can have a dramatic effect on the end result. For example, a unique material such as an exotic edge-lit acrylic can make for an attention-grabbing display.”

The quick answer is “it depends on the project”. A good display design company will want to know a detailed outline of your goals before making suggestions on materials.

Temporary displays are typically made from corrugate, card stock, foamcore or coroplast. Semi-permanent displays are often made out of corrugate, styrene, ABS, rigid PVC, acrylic or gator board.

“Permanent displays require materials that ensure the lifespan of the display,” notes Stratton. “Materials can include metal, woods and rigid plastics. They often contain molded parts and lighting features.”

3) Timelines - How long should I expect my project to take?

We recognize that POP displays are often time-sensitive. Our design process can take anywhere from a few days to two weeks. Once design and materials are selected, we build prototypes for approval and then move to production of the units. Production timelines can vary from a few weeks to a month, depending on the complexity of the project.

Middleton Group has a highly experienced team of designers and skilled fabricators. All of our prototypes are done in-house. We understand graphics and the best way to image your display graphics (screen, digital or vinyl). We have decades of experience with all phases of design, manufacturing, printing, packaging and distribution. We also have our own installation crews coast to coast.

We work with some of the most well-known brands in banking, big box retail, automotive, fashion, toys, electronics, beauty and pharmacy. Contact us now to get started on your next project.