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Visual Merchandisers create ways of displaying products in shops to make them look more appealing. This could be through designing window displays, or decorating a store in a seasonal theme, in a way that reflects the company’s image. The main purpose of this is to attract customers and maximise sales.
They may design ideas for displays, or carry out the instructions of a company design plan in doing this.
When designing concepts, Visual Merchandisers may sketch ideas out or use computers to design them. They may hire or even make props for the displays, and will set up displays, from dressing dummies to arranging the lighting, and ensure that prices are visible.
Visual Merchandisers will also create merchandising packs to send out to different store branches, and will inform staff how products should be displayed.
How to become a Visual Merchandiser
There are two main routes into a career as a Visual Merchandiser. One is for someone to work their way up in the retail industry. The second way is through studying a design-related subject.
There are specific courses relating to the subject itself, such as Exhibition and Retail Design degrees. Foundation degrees, BTEC HNDs and degrees in other related subjects such as interior design, visual communications and fashion marketing can be an advantage in getting into the industry.
The British Display Society also has courses in Display in colleges and also through distance learning.
Apprenticeships can also provide a good opportunity for entry into retail.
Skills and knowledge required
- An eye for design and detail
- Creative flair
- IT skills and the ability to use computer-aided design programmes
- Practical skills, such as needlework
- Good time management
- Good communication skills and the ability to work both solo and as part of a team
- A good level of fitness
Starting salaries are around the £12,000 to £16,000 a year mark. This can rise to £20,000 a year with experience, while Managers or Designers can earn between £25,000 and £45,000.
Hours are usually full-time, around 37-40 hours a week, and can include late nights for display installations outside of opening hours.
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