From the outside looking in

by admin on May 24, 2011


Find yourself a comfy yet inconspicuous position outside your store, sit there and watch for 10 minutes.
Before a customer even enters your store, they have made some assumptions.

They will have decided:

  • what you sell
  • whether you can be trusted
  • where your price points will be positioned
  • whether you have what they want, or at least what may interest the

The customer gleans all of this from the outside looking in. That’s what I want you to do.

From the customer’s perspective, what do you see?

Is the store frontage clean? There’s nothing worse than a milkshake that’s been splattered across the store façade, then smeared as it dribbles to the footpath.

When was the last time you had the glass properly cleaned? Inside and out.

Is your sign working, or is it half-shrouded in darkness.

These issues talk to the customer about the personality of the store.

From your position outside, what do your windows tell you. Are they impactful enough to capture the customer’s attention? Do they support your latest promotional drive. Are they clean or are there dead flies lurking in the corner?

Consider the lighting. Is it sufficient? Is it well directed to highlight the hero of the display? Too many times I have observed a pool of light highlighting nothing but a faded spot on the floor.

From your vantage point, look inside the store. Can you see clear sight lines and pathways? Does the customer feel like she can get around the store without difficulty? Is it all confusing or does the merchandising speak clearly?

Are promotions positioned in the best selling positions to maximise the selling opportunity? Is the ticketing as it should be? Is the housekeeping of a high enough standard, because no one wants to step over filth.

By now you should have realised it doesn’t matter how good your merchandise is, how fantastic your staff are, or how beautifully presented your range may be.

If you’re not communicating the right message to the customer before she enters the store, then chances are you won’t get the opportunity.



Nicholas Arnold is the Principal of Visual Merchandising Solutions, a retail consultancy specialising in visual merchandising, point-of-sale and promotion development, including retail staff training. Find out more at


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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Tanya July 21, 2011 at 4:08 am

We have been tossing up for sometime about moving yes no yes no YES. Thanks Nicolas your comments above helped push us over the edge to make that change. Aren’t we excited now as all the things we needed to do but never got around to will have to be done like a nice big new sign to show case what we can do.


Chief Signwriter July 22, 2011 at 7:03 am

I’m glad to hear this from you, most welcome!


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