Order in the Maze

6 surprising tips for EYE CARE PROFESSIONALS on how to maximize sales with simple visual merchandising

(as told to Stephanie K. De Long, for EyeCare Business, April 2016)

I am a retail strategist and shopper insights expert. That means I watch people shop. I study the maze (the retail environment), the mouse (the shopper), and the cheese (what­ever that shopper is after).

My job is to make sure the maze, mouse, and cheese are working together to create the best experience possible.

Visual merchandising is an important piece of that maze. Here are six tips to enhance yours.


There are five tenets of shopping—look, touch, check the price, inform, explore. If we have a pain point in any of those steps, it is in danger of becoming a breaking point.

For example, if frames are in a glass case, I may not want to ask for help and, therefore, that pain point becomes a breaking point, and I move on. The display may look great, but visual merchandis­ing needs to facilitate shopping, not just support a good design.


There are often so many frames along a wall that we need some sort of visual oasis to rest our eyes and, therefore, catch our breath.

The easiest way to do that is with color and color blocking. Create two to three places on the wall where there is no product and you’re not try­ing to sell anything, other than sharing your brand message and environment. You can do it with humor, color, something fun or even educational— nothing heavy, but something that shifts our brain and lets us refocus.


Look at your customer: Men shop as a task, and women shop for excitement or entertainment.

If a woman needs a product, she will find it. Not so with men. It’s important to help them remember where the boundaries are in their category. Whether that’s with verbiage or signs—or the men’s back­ground is light blue and the women’s yellow—there needs to be some system to help men shop.


After entering a store, consumers tend to take a soft right. For the most part, the hard right area is out of their sight lines. Don’t just waste that space, though. Put kids frames there or sale product.


If you have to walk 5 feet to a mirror, and need to do that three to four times to see how different frames look, you will reach a breaking point quickly. This is an important part of visual merchandising that’s often overlooked.

We want to see the frame close up on us, so that’s a hand mirror (and you’ll need lots of them). We want to see how the frame looks on our face, so that’s typically a wall mirror. And then we want to see how we wear the frame overall, so that’s a full-length mirror. Do you have all three?


Most of us over the age of 40 have trouble seeing small print, so don’t let the 27-year-old who’s making your signs forget who the audience is.

The same goes for lighting. If you’re under 40 and the store looks over-lit to you, it probably doesn’t to your average shopper.

What if you don’t want to follow the standard visual merchandising guidelines? My advice is this: If you’re going to break them, do it in a big way. Otherwise, stick to the retail rules.

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