How to create different retail areas with VM


In this piece, we spoke with David Anthony, looking at examples of how to create different retail areas through visual merchandising.

Why learn how to create different retail areas?

Many retail spaces are large and can lack character until they have been designed to suit the products instore. Understanding how to create different retail areas within a shop is key to creating an exciting instore journey for customers, while differentiating specific zones or themes.

How to create different retail areas

Here’s what David Anthony had to say about the best ways to create different retail areas, as well as fantastic imagery to show this in practice.

Coal Drops Yard: Cosmopolitan Traders

This example shows how retailers can stand out with minimalistic signage, even in retail spaces that look similar.

“This is an old warehouse-style building and the fascia and windows and doors are the same, meaning it’s a blank canvas for retailers to put their own stamp on that fascia, so they stand out. In many retail situations, you don’t have fascias that are so alike. There are a lot of independent maker lifestyle brands at Coal Drops Yard, so you see a lot of signage coming through the windows and the great presentation meets expectations.”

Key takeaways

  • Having a uniform style of building creates the opportunity to personalise it to your style
  • Signage is a great way to stand out from other retailers

IKEA: Scandi Home Style

IKEA is a great example of a brand that knows how to create different retail areas while selling products.

“When IKEA started, the instore experience wasn’t as exciting as they had less visual displays. It was quite a radical shift when a few years later, they started to implement this room setting style. They still have the path that you follow, but they now bring different items together and use these types of room settings. From a visual perspective, this brings different items together that are similar, which inspires customers and gives inspiration. The great thing about displaying products in this way is that you can showcase products that are very individual in a harmonious way that tempts people to purchase. It helps you to see various items together, giving you ideas by showing you what they could look like in a display in the way that you would utilise them.”

Key takeaways

  • Room settings help to bring individual products together
  • Giving examples of products in use, helps to upsell and encourage impulse buys
  • Product grouping plays a key role in creating harmonious displays

H&M: Sustainable Concept

H&M’s sustainable concept store has worked to successfully create different retail areas through mood lighting, props, screens and curtains.

“When they first opened, this sustainable H&M store had a lot of plants inside and outside the store, as well as a lot of stone work on the floors and natural materials like wood in their staircase, carrying through the theme. It creates a very different mood to the typical H&M store, which is typically quite white and stark. They use mood lighting and props, as well as screens and curtains to create different areas within the store. This presentation makes you look at the stock differently, as it feels very neat and tidy and the stock is put together in a more conscientious way than other stores.”

Key takeaways

  • Plants can be used to create a fresh feeling environment instore
  • Use natural materials such as wood to communicate a sustainable feel
  • Presentation makes a huge difference to the instore vibe
  • Divisions don’t have to be walls. You can use curtains, screens, rails and much more

Tailor & Forge: Lifestyle Homeware

In this example, Tailor & Forge has used visual merchandising to create different retail areas, simply by making the most of colour, texture and carefully positioned props.

“This concept store is part of the market, and it’s great to see this type of independent store in that kind of location. It’s a combination of artisan, independent, local labels and brands. The old barn-type, warehouse space gives it a vibe which means once you start putting products in it, it merchandises in a nice, lifestyle way. This type of space works as an instant backdrop to the stock. Because the stock is so unique, you can afford to display it in an individual fashion, putting together lots of individual items to tell a story. They have used the perimeter of the space well to stop it looking too cluttered, utilising props such as a dining table to display various items and creating shapes in corner spaces. For example, the greenery wall with the triangle shape on it works to create a different backdrop, which makes it clear that it’s a different space without a wall or divider.”

Key takeaways

  • It’s possible to create different retail areas without using walls or dividers
  • Props can help to display items without making it feel cluttered
  • Certain retail spaces can work as an easy backdrop for products

Wolf & Badger: Independent Lifestyle

“Wolf & Badger have this very large warehouse unit within Coal Drops Yard. They stock a lot of independent brands including fashion, beauty and home products. They have taken this warehouse space and created different areas, making mezzanine levels with natural floors. They have also used columns and walls to create different departments, such as menswear, womenswear and a concept store for the Papersmith brand to be in. When you enter, there’s a plant botanical area which leads to the beauty area, creating a mini department store journey. They do a great job of showcasing independent brands that they appreciate and who are sustainable and ethical, in line with their ethos.

Key takeaways

  • Think about customers’ journeys and create different retail areas that make sense next to each other
  • Mezzanine levels can be a great way to utilise high spaces
  • By using pre-existing columns and walls, you can save money on spending to create different retail areas

Summary: How to create different retail areas

There are many ways to create different retail areas, even in the largest of spaces. The key to success is to understand the space, knowing the various zones that you would like to create and getting creative with the best ways to visually, or physically, divide the space.


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