Retail Management for Spas | Chapter 7 | Visual Merchandising

At the Urban Spa …

Reuben rounded the corner by the Urban Day Spa’s cash/wrap counter and nearly collided with the nesting tables that held a display of Zen sand gardens and other relaxation products. He grabbed for the table to steady it before the contents of the sand garden ended up on the floor—again.

Picking up the tiny rake and smoothing the sand into soothing swirls, Reuben contemplated the display that Bree, his retail manager, had created earlier in the week. In addition to the sand garden (a hot seller with young office professionals, who seemed to like them better than the fountains that were so popular last year), she had artfully arranged a selection of relaxation CDs, a couple of pillar candles in soft earth tones, and a book on Eastern meditation. Unfortunately, the placement of the display had caused more than a few customers—and staff members—to have a less-than-relaxing encounter with the nesting tables. Bree had looked distressed when Reuben had jokingly suggested selling ice packs to soothe people’s barked shins.

Reuben knew that Bree had figured placing the display near the cash/wrap counter would encourage customers to make impulse purchases of the items, but that didn’t seem to be happening. Perhaps they were so embarrassed about knocking into the display that they couldn’t bring themselves to pick up any of the products for purchase. Reuben picked up the meditation book to set it back on its stand, and chuckled as he read the entry where the pages fell open.

“A young monk comes to a highly respected teacher to learn Zen. He finds his way to the teacher’s house and knocks on the door. The teacher responds and tells him to take off his shoes and come in. Doing so, the young monk enters the house and the teacher invites him to sit. After several minutes of exchanging pleasantries, the teacher asks the monk, ‘When you took off your shoes, did you place them to the left of the umbrella outside, or to the right?’ The student did not remember. The teacher told him that he could not teach him Zen.”

Reuben looked thoughtful. “Maybe we need to be more mindful of where our shoes … or our nesting tables … are placed,” he mused.

As Reuben learned, awareness in life is everything. Acting consciously, placing things a certain way, and setting certain things next to others all show intention. In the East, there is an art to the placement of things called feng shui. This teaching states that when people arrange things in harmony with their space, everything prospers—financially, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

The same can be said of visual merchandising in the spa retail environment. Placing products consciously and with intention will create an atmosphere of harmony—and will lead to prosperity, as customers respond to well-balanced visual displays by making purchases. Studies have shown that customers perceive only about one-fourth of the store’s environment as they walk through the doors. By frequently rearranging displays, spa professionals can create the impression that their merchandise is new and exciting. Layout and design will also guide customers through the retail space in patterns that will lead them past the greatest amount of merchandise. A carefully planned layout can serve as a powerful tool that generates interest and increases sales.

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