What does a visual merchandiser do?
Visual merchandisers use their design skills to help promote the image, products and services of retail businesses and other organisations. They create eye-catching product displays and store layouts and design to attract customers and encourage them to buy.
In a large retail company, you would work as part of a display team, following design plans created at head office by a visual merchandising manager or senior display designer. Your role may sometimes overlap with that of a display designer, who designs things like display stands, stock containers and sales posters.
Depending on your responsibilities, your day-to-day work might include:
- producing design ideas for displays and developing floor plans, or following a company plan
- creating special displays to promote a specific product or offer
- drawing designs and plans by hand or computer
- deciding how to use space and lighting creatively
- making best use of a store's space and layout
- creating branded visual merchandising packs to send to each branch of a store
- giving feedback to head office and buying teams
- setting up displays, dressing dummies and arranging screens, fabric and posters
- sourcing display materials and hiring, borrowing or making props
- teaching sales staff how goods should be displayed
- taking down old displays
Senior visual merchandisers are usually responsible for planning the store display for the year, creating visual plans and buying the appropriate models, props, equipment and signage.
Head office visual merchandiser coordinators often prepare a visual merchandising pack to send to other stores, so that all stores have the same company look and feel.
What do I need to do to become a visual merchandiser?
You normally become a visual merchandiser or display designer in one of two ways:
- completing a retail design qualification at college while looking for work
- moving from an in-store sales assistant role to a trainee visual merchandiser post
Whether you take a college course beforehand or do on-the-job training, there are various certificates and diplomas you could study. You may be able to get into this career if you have more general art and design qualifications, and can show a flair and enthusiasm for retail.
You may also be able to start in this role through an apprenticeship.