Staging products – creating living spaces

If you can’t smile, you shouldn’t open a shop – so says the well-known Chinese proverb. Your own smile – addressing the customer personally and valuing them – is one of the most convincing sales arguments in retail. However, it is not only the retailer who needs to smile, the products do too, and they need to meet customers where customers prefer to spend their time: in their own world.

What keeps customers enthused in the long-run?

In most shops, the display furniture is functional and the presentation of goods is based on rational criteria. These factors are of great importance for a well-arranged sales room layout. But what “look” do your customers’ living rooms, desks or children’s rooms have? What key visual elements get their hearts racing? If you want to uncover what your customers’ homes or desks look like, you need search no further than Instagram or Pinterest, where it is possible to derive lots of ideas for the staging of various lifestyle worlds in your own store from an abundance of images and examples. 

Keep surprising your customers with new layouts and product staging in an area dedicated to just this. The reason? Customers who know that there will be a new experience waiting in store for them each time will come into the shop even when they don’t actually need anything. 

Don’t think in terms of product groups, think theme worlds

The visual power and appeal of individual products is always strengthened by the existence of a coherent bigger picture. For this, you need a storyboard or a mood board in which the story framework for the staging is defined. The first thing to clarify is what story should be told. Think, for example, about the current hot topic of working from home. If the product appearance is to reflect a certain living environment, the first question is what the desk could look like. Will it be purist, romantic/reflective, artsy/colourful? Where will the desk be located? In a loft, in the garden or at the kitchen table with a vintage look? If the focus is on a certain product range, rather than the target group, then the question is what story do these products suit and what can be used to enhance them in harmony. It is, therefore, not about selling a ruler, a folder or a ballpoint pen – it is about inspiring the customer on an emotional level. 

Surprise with unexpected elements

So, what could the “home office” theme look like? If the weather is good, the workspace might be in the garden. If there is enough space available in-store, then the scene would have a desk or a wooden board on two trestles sitting on an artificial lawn, with individual silk flowers entwining the work surface. Folders with flower designs, notebooks with bees or insects, erasers shaped like flowers or beetles and items with bold, bright colours all come into the picture as merchandise. And why not enhance your product range with suitable gift items, such as a tin with flower seeds for a butterfly-filled meadow or a coffee cup with flower motif. 

If the office at home is in a loft apartment, products with a concrete look, or made from metal or leather, and a colour pallet with charcoal grey, black and metallic tones are in the focus. 

The more “experienceable” the design is, the more the customer will perceive the store and the products on an emotional level. If a real desk has been set up with just a stapler, a desk lamp, a cup, etc, then the customer needs to find the staged products on sale nearby. If a sales table is laid out to suit a certain living space, the curated product display will emerge out of the individual products that fit the theme, like a mosaic.

About the author:

Sabine Gauditz is an expert in visual retail marketing and author of the German book "Schaufenster als Spiegel der Geschäfte" (The shop window as the mirror of the shop). Her consulting firm for visual marketing, Arte Perfectum, focuses on practical solutions delivered in presentations, seminars, workshops and in-house consulting sessions.

Would you like to learn more about the stationery industry?

Expert knowledge, practical tips for retailers and the latest industry developments. Stay well informed at all times with the Insights-X newsletter.

I am interested as a: