Visual Merchandising 101

Hey everyone!

It’s so nice to see so many views and new followers! Thank you everyone for your love. I hope to grow this blog to a something really phenomenal.

If I may take a moment for a shameless plug and ask if you can like my Facebook page. I plan on organizing some giveaways and other fun stuff. All you lovely people reading and commenting need to be thanked properly! Who doesn’t like free stuff?!

I’m gonna kick off a little series about merchandising, specifically working for a furniture store. I’ve gone from Mom and Pop to corporation to Mom and Pop corporation and back to Mom and Pop. And if I can tell you one thing, this job is not for the weak (mind body or soul). I wish I knew all of this before I started my career. No regrets, of course, but some things have certainly blind sided me. This may be a little off point from my usual crafting, beach going, up cycling, so if this is not your cup of tea, check back soon. Very soon. 🙂

I research and stay on top of trends and industry happenings, and I never came across advice or hints for visuals working in a furniture store. So to all you retail warriors out there (and yes, we are warriors)…. Good luck, be strong, and follow my blog and this series. Here we go.

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I made this meme (because i couldnt find one for VMs) but thank you Disney, Martha Stewart, and Kel from Good Burger.

There’s some differences between what store you work at, whether a furniture or clothing or home improvement or candles or creepy store full of clown statues. The principles are all the same.

Here are a list of tools and tips you will need, no matter what branch of retail. E-commerce, you don’t count for most of these.

1. Comfortable shoes and clothes
You will be running all over for the sake of your company. That is your job. Make the place look good, and it takes a lot of work. If its easy you are not doing it right. Some days I wish I owned some steel toe boots. Or steel toed KEDs. I love my KEDs. I can still wear my cute outfits and skirts and still be efficient. Thanks KEDs….. I’m a size 10 if you want to send me a pair and do some guerrilla marketing for ya… 🙂

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www.keds.com

2. Do not wear your best garments to work. They will get ruined.
Long dangly necklaces may cause injury… You’ve been warned.

3. Good deodorant
You will be sweating. Or glowing. What ever you want to call it… Hard work just adds character and burns calories. Expect to climb ladders, bend and stretch into weird corners and angles in warehouses, storage rooms, etc. At this point I’d like to remind you to stay positive…. This is not a stuffy desk job…. Be grateful.

4. A proper knowledge and ability to lift heavy items.
I break my own rules sometimes and have been super sore the next day, but sometimes you just have too much running in your mind or on your plate to find someone to get help. However, proper moving/lifting techniques also saves labor and time. Not being afraid of a dolly or a floor cart or furniture sliders is a must. Just don’t be stupid, your back is too important.

This is a great resource for proper lifting techniques

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5. Ability and willingness to multi task. (this may be my most important piece of advice)
Your coworkers, bosses, upper management, friends, and family will never realize all that you do. Don’t expect a cookie or an award. Actually, stay on the look out when upper management/ ownership is constantly cleaning house, has a heavy turnover for employment, or you hear them refer to any role in the company as disposable. Form an exit plan now. All you are is a bottom line, no matter how much they try to flatter you, they just want you to work your ass off until you burn yourself out and leave so they can replace you with someone cheaper. Retail is a numbers game.

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Now, I must be fair, not all employers are like this, but it can be common in retail, especially with this economy. Be cautious when your boss begins to cut your hours, assigning you work that is beyond your realm of responsibility, meetings that seem more like mind games over productivity, discuss things that are illegal in HR terms, or if HR has a quote on their wall about being a Bi**h. Be a rock and do the best you can….. To get out as soon as possible.

What defines a hostile work environment?

6. Education
To many companies, big and small, you are much more than a glorified shelf stocker. Companies are being more progressive and respectful of merchandising because online retail is taking their business. There are many roles in merchandising, especially with a larger corporation, with all the bells and whistles and benefits and opportunities to be a buyer, assistant buyer, supervisor, etc. If you are looking for a job like this, seek a bachelors in interior design/ marketing/merchandising. Trust me. It wouldn’t hurt to minor in graphic art/CAD or business either. I’m no expert, but the jobs I yearn for and pay very well, have these skills and requirements in common.

My two year degree is not enough, even if I do the leg work to get the knowledge of a four year degree, without spending the cash on a fancy tuition. They want that piece of paper. I can’t blame them. I loved my two year program, but it was a little outdated when it came to digging into the world of merchandising and what is expected/needed. And above all, do everything you can to get a job in your field while you are in school. You are going to have to start from the bottom and work your way up, and retail in general doesn’t pay much from the start. The next best education is experience.

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7. A positive attitude. (second most important piece of advice)
Be happy, smile, and be helpful. As a visual merchandiser, you are going to know more about the store than most…. Where things are, if you have more, if something is damaged, if something is on order, not on order, back order, skus, matching pieces, everything.

You are there for one reason. Make your company money! You don’t want to be walked all over because of your knowledge, but you do want to assist your coworkers and at least point them in the right direction.

You have your own timelines and goals, obviously. But if you have the attitude of ‘this is not my job’, well then, you may as well just find a new career. Because in retail, everything is everybody’s job. Customer service is everything. If you make the customer happy whether it’s visual or advice or helping sales answer a question or find something, you have done your job to the best of your ability. Customers will think, ‘I am their paycheck’, and they are right. Have pride in what you do. Positivity rubs off on others more than you may realize.

Sometimes I think people don’t think I work hard because I’m always positive. I think they aren’t working hard enough if they are being negative. 🙂

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8. Time for you.
Whether its home, off the clock, or at work. Make sure you give yourself some quiet time to focus and organize your day with meaning. It’s easy to get off track with #6 so it is important to have daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals. If a coworker is taking advantage of your time, point them in the direction of the right answer and stay on task. Nothing is more of a time suck, than a bunch of different unfinished projects. It’s unprofessional.

‘Cozi’ is by far the best organizer I’ve seen. A must have for any mom, dad, note taker, or multi tasker.

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If you are on salary, you may feel the need to do it all. Don’t. Learn to delegate effectively and learn where your skills are needed most. Let the sales people sell, customer service communicate, upper management solve major issues, etc. Let teamwork prevail. And DON’T bring your work home.

9. Think outside the box and try new things.

10. Don’t give away your talents. You have a skill. Not everyone has the ability for combining 3D design, business, and a good people person attitude. Don’t let anyone belittle your work. We have a passion. Live it and love it and push to be better. It may not be brain surgery or feeding the hungry, you can always volunteer your philanthropy if you’re feeling guilty for making people buy things they may or may not need.

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I love my job, and I’m so thankful to have a great boss and wonderful coworkers… Not to mention beautiful and quality products that I’m proud to help sell. 🙂

www.shopsoundfurniture.com

Well, that’s about it. For now. I hope you new and old VMs found this entertaining or helpful. I have some more advice and tricks, so stick with me.

More all natural skin care, fruits and veggies, sewing projects, upcycled furniture, and artsy fartsy fun to come too.

Thanks again for reading and your support.

Please, to all the VMs out there. Please leave comments, questions, and advice… No matter what field. What did you wish you knew or what have you learned to make it in the biz?

Much love,
Bethany

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About bethanyd28594

Interior designer, crafter, bargain hunter, cooker, baker, veggie lover, visual merchandiser, furniture upcycler, beach goer, laugher, nature lover, Ben Franklin fan, love lover.
This entry was posted in Interior Design, Visual and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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