Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Is the Visual Merchandiser No More?

The role of a Visual Merchandiser, in my opinion, is often misjudged in the retail world with many people thinking we are there to make things look pretty or, in some cases I've come across, to be a maintenence dogsboddy within a store.

As most of us know, we are one of the important support systems within a business to make items look appealing but to also make them sell. Our job consists of analysing customer interactions to shopping so we can merchandise and display products in the most effective (ie most profitable) way possible.

Part of our role is to also style mannequins to the latest catwalk trends to ensure our customers are buying into our looks and the fashion we are using on a daily basis.

As a fashion visual merchandiser myself, I am finding more often than not the creativity of my role is being taken away from me. There are now so many corporate guidelines to follow and directives to implement that the skill of what once was perceived as an important and highly qualified retail role is now disappearing and becoming so easy that even 'regular' shop assistants could do it.

I am now beginning to ponder whether the role of a visual will even be around in the next ten or even five years time? If Head Office are adament on making guidelines for us vm's to "copy" then why pay us a decent salary that matches our skills at all when anyone could do the job when the freedom and creativity is taken away from it?

As the high street seems more in jeopardy than ever, I don't think it would be long before visual merchandisers are a thing of the past. If retail head offices implement strict guidelines such as in my company, then why not cut out the middle man (the vm's) and get a shop assistant to copy instead. I am a firm believer in window displays being the main attractor of customers into a store, but companies would save thousands if they banished corporate window displays.

It's very sad to think an important retail role could be diminishing, but maybe I am wrong? Maybe I just currently work for a strict guideline obsessed store thats stripping away my own creativity and making me into something I am not - a copy cat.

What do you think?


  1. Sadly, I think that you could be right. As a sale assistant, I've had to do VM-ing but not with the strict guidelines. Saying that, my friend worked for a company who sent along sheets and sheets of exactly how the shop floor and the mannequins should look - every single thing had to be identical, it's crazy! xxx

  2. It really depends on the company you work for, not all companies issue such strict guidelines. And as for the role of the VM disappearing in time, I think as high street fashion becomes more and more fast-paced, and there are more and more trends and styles to confuse the customer, our roles will potentially become more vital.

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