Top reasons to use mannequins for visual merchandising

Karen Henry Article Mannequins retail Visual merchandising window displays

Window mannequins are used to create attractive storefronts and gain the attention of passers-by. Used in conjunction with store product lines and display discount signs, window mannequins improve sales and in-store foot traffic by being front-line customer acquisition tools. 

One of the key principles of store management is having a successful visual merchandising strategy. Window mannequins form part of the foundation of almost any store's arsenal of sales techniques.

No matter what type of store you run, whether it's a coffee shop or a hair-dressing salon, window mannequins are an important part of new customer acquisition.

Window Mannequin Styles 

There are many styles of window mannequins, including:

  • Wireframe
  • Glossy
  • Fiberglass
  • Plastic
  • Metal
  • Fabric
  • Realistic
  • Featureless - for example no head or no arms
  • Comic
  • Child
  • Adult
  • Man
  • Woman
  • Neutral

Mannequins for women's clothing usually have an elegant look and feel.

Glossy mannequins are futuristic and having a sporting feel, so are suited to sports shops and trendy shops.

Wireframe mannequins have the advantage of being see-through - however, may not be as sturdy as traditional armature based mannequins. The armature is the underlying skin of the mannequin.

Featureless or formless mannequins have missing features, for example, missing limbs, or no facial features. 

One goal of window display design is to create an aspirational goal for the onlooker. The passer-by that gives an extra look might since they are missing something (fear of missing out - FOMO). They will imagine themselves in the clothing worn by the mannequin. This stimulates a desire.

Visual Merchandising Tips

  • Pretend to be the customer walking through the store. Why is the customer there? What are they going to buy? Can they be persuaded to purchase anything else?
  • What is the customer's path through the shop?
  • What seasonal merchandising strategies are you using?
  • What point of sale signs, directional signage, promotional signs, and product labeling are you using?
  • Are there too many visual distractions?
  • Are the display areas iconic or aspirational? Will people look at the display areas?
  • Adjust the layout so that best sellers are easier to buy - for example, sweets at checkout
  • Adjust the layout so that essentials/necessities are more difficult to get to, e.g. bread and milk more difficult to get
  • Adjust the layout so that interesting or desirable or emergency supplies are displayed prominently, causing the customer to wander into the shop
  • Can you link sales with other related products?
  • Can you offer immediate upgrades to increase the spend, e.g. batteries, insurance
  • Can you add value to the sale and increase customer satisfaction, e.g. gift wrapping service

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