May 28

Visual Merchandising: A Powerful Business Tool

Joel T. Fagsao

Is it real? Almost. This is actually a mock store display output done by participants to the DTI sponsored Visual Merchandising workshop.

If you are in the business of selling a particular product or various products your store presentation can make or break a sale. In a recent seminar sponsored by the Department of Trade and Industry, Rey Luciano Soliven, Product Design Consultant, discussed about visual merchandising and its relevance to a business. As defined in his presentation material, visual merchandising can affect buyer’s judgment and decision making by combining graphics, color, architecture and lighting when presenting the products. It is a powerful tool that can affect a buyer’s judgment and decision making. In the workshop, Soliven impressed on the importance of colors, images, theme – and that with the right combination of these elements could result into better sales.

Participants whoop it up at the end of the Visual Merchandising Workshop held at the Tsayapan Conferrence Hall from April 29 to 30, 2009, Bontoc, Mountain Province.

The workshop was attended by souvenir and gift shop owners, store owners, producers, teachers and students. Soliven emphasized on connecting with our culture – as anchor to our livelihood activities. He noted that we have so much potential and opportunities in our midst. It is just a matter of being more sensitive to our surroundings, our culture as a whole. Our Igorot culture is our identity and we can translate it through several productions. From t-shirts, gift items, woven products, furniture and even through various services and interaction with customers. Eco-tourism is one big potential of Mountain Province but it needs the concerted effort of various sectors to turn this into a source of income for everyone. The preservation of our culture is important if we want to maintain our identity. Indeed it is not only our terraces, caves and majestic scenery but our unique culture completes the package. For travels/visitors to our province, the sights, sounds, and interactions with the locals complete their experience. In the workshop, the participants were asked to do a mock scale models of how a store or booth in a trade fair is arranged and presented. The result was quite a surprise. Soliven expressed appreciation and exclaimed that the participant’s output can rival store window displays in Makati malls. It has been my observation that our local fairs, even our stores need a lot of improvement when it comes to aesthetics. We have been used to the traditional way of doing “banketa” style displays of our merchandise. A few of our local shop owners put effort to present their products and services in a tasteful, attractive manner. In helping out with my mother’s shoe shop in my younger days, I have noted that an attractive display makes for good sales. Simply stuffing sneakers with newspaper and mounting it in shoe boxes would make the difference in being able to sell the product or not. In our local trade fairs, only a few participants make an effort to do an attractive display which is the essence of visual merchandising. Soliven’s workshop is an eye opener to the importance of putting some time and effort to work on an effective visual merchandising theme. In a more competitive business environment, visual merchandising could be an edge. Sadly, only a few shop owners and trade fair participants took an interest in this learning opportunity. Despite the invitations for this one of a kind workshop, busy was the usual reason for non participation. Entrepreneurs should take time to learn- to upgrade and improve on their craft. If you are in the business of selling, producing or providing services, presentation is critical. If an entrepreneur is content with his or her current status, the next wave of more aggressive, and eager beaver entrepreneurs could make the complacent ones a has-been.