As we come into August, the retail world is actively launching their back-to-school styles and fall fashions. However, just because the fashion has moved towards fall, doesn’t mean Mother Nature is on the same page. In most cases, this leaves stores full of fresh new merchandise that doesn’t sell because shoppers aren’t ready or needing warmer clothes…yet.
This awkward transition happens twice a year, every year – winter into spring and summer into fall. On one hand, you get a fresh new look for your store. The store looks refresh, revitalized as older merchandising is being phased out for new colors, textures and silhouettes. On the other hand, it can be hard to sell product that doesn’t relate to Mother Nature’s current mood.
Coming from a Visual Merchandiser, this transition time can make it challenging to keep customers interested, to keep product looking relevant and to keep sales up. Challenging but not impossible. This is a key time to play up the styling and use suggestive selling to keep your customers engaged and get them picking up new merchandise.
Use Mannequin Styling
Not everyone can look at a garment and put together an outfit. Some people struggle to do this, and others can take a look and expand on it, modify it to fit their own style. But both these customers have one thing in common – they are inspired by visual presentations (suggestive selling) – and your mannequins are the most impactful visual presentation tool you have.
Mannequins are visually relatable. They give the garment shape and context. They allow the customer to see how the garment can be wore, how it sits, what to par it with (hint, hint) and most importantly allows them to visualize themselves in it.
When the weather is warmer still…
Use fall fashion pieces as laying pieces:
- Instead of wearing the new paid flannel top, tie it around the mannequin’s waste or put it in their hand.
- Instead of wearing the new hoodie with sleave down, push them up.
- Roll the sleeves up on blouses, sweaters, or long sleeve tops.
- Leave button-up or zip-up shirts open with a tank top underneath.
- Bonus tip: have it hang off one shoulder for that lived-in look.
- Roll-up the legs of jeans to give a cropped look.
Pair warmer garments with more weather appropriate pieces:
- Pair the new paid flannel with a jersey dress.
- Pair the new fall jacket with a dress.
- Pair the new fleece hoodie with denim shorts.
- Pair any outfit with sandals or running shoes instead of boots.
Use Merchandising Suggestions
When we are in the transitional weather period, it is better to merchandise by wardrobe over merchandising by commodity. Visually, merchandising by commodity, when the style has dramatically shifted, it can look a lot heavier and out of season to the customer. Think about it from the viewpoint of the customer:
You walk into a store, it’s 30+ degrees outside, and you see dark, fall colours everywhere. You move in closer and the first display is heavy knit flannels. Are you going to continue into the store?
Now change it up a little, still using the fall flannels example but merchandising by wardrobe…
You walked into a store that is showcasing the new fall flannels, but they were paired with tank tops, dresses, and shorts – mixed on tables and neighboring racks. It will feel completely different. It will feel more relevant and more on-season even though they are technically fall garments.
When placing garments together in the store, mix the heavier, warmer fall garments with the more weather appropriate garments – like you would when styling a mannequin (see above). By merchandising them together, subliminally, it shows your customer that these can be worn together and that they need them all to complete the look (hint, hint). This increases the chances of a customer picking up a fall piece along with that weather appropriate piece they came in to buy.
To learn more about merchandising, check out Retail Merchandising 101.
Being a Visual Merchandiser or Store Owner during this time of year will keep you on your toes. It’s not a set-it-and-forget-it until you do a refresh next week. When the weather is changing drastically daily (one day it’s hot, next day it’s chilly) you have to keep up with it in store as well. Now, if you’ve used the tips above, keeping up will be low maintenance. If it gets cooler out, put the jacket on or rolldown the sleeves and so on. But do make changes with the change in temperature to keep your store relevant and keep customers coming in to check it out.