Visual Merchandisers are in charge of putting together the visual presentation and arrangements for items on sale. Their main job is to create something that is alluring and representative of the product. Some Visual Merchandisers are employed by museums, retail establishments, theatre companies, outlets, galleries, department stores, or other similar establishments. However, it is also possible for Visual Merchandisers to work on a freelance basis or as consulters.
Visual Merchandisers are hired to promote specific products, fashion lines, new technologies, or special promotions by a brand. Their number one goal is to attract the attention of their intended customers by setting up creative and appealing displays. Not to be confused with Retail Merchandisers whose work focuses on sales and stock rather on the visual aspect of the merchandise.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Visual Merchandisers are required to complete.
- Developing innovative design concepts which are practical, aesthetic, safe, and conducive to intended purposes and functions, being a reflection of the client’s goals and always keeping within the project’s budget.
- Designing and assembling displays of certain items or products in order to draw the attention of potential customers:
- Consulting with clients to determine needs, preferences, and purpose of space;
- preparing and conceptualising how the display or exhibit is going to look like;
- using specialized design software in order to create a digital representation of how the display is going to look like;
- submitting finalized concepts and sketches for approval;
- arranging displays and exhibitions in a manner that becomes alluring and balanced, all while maximizing the use of lighting and space;
- requesting all the materials necessary to carry out the intended design;
- keeping all expenses within budget and negotiating with vendors and suppliers;
- producing eye-catching and attractive visual displays, setting up/assembling the display or supervising the process;
- ensuring that all displays maintain a sense of consistency and uniformity when there are various at different venues; and
- adapting displays and exhibitions according to seasons or promotions.
- Consulting with colleagues and customers about the visual impact of a display or an exhibition.
- Liaising with representatives of different venues to ensure that all exhibitions give the same sense of style and tone.
- Performing regular market studies and keeping up with the latest styles and trends in order to keep displays modern and attractive:
- Keeping up-to-date on current trends and recent developments; and
- staying current on ground-breaking decorating techniques, new materials, and sales strategies.
- Consulting with clients to create the best design.
- Developing plans and creating sketches.
- Creating displays and exhibitions that are visually appealing to customers.
- Gathering all the necessary materials and props.
- Setting up/assembling the display or supervising the process.
The average Visual Merchandiser salary is $26,111 per year or $13 per hour. This is around 0.8 times less than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $18,000 while most experienced workers make up to $37,000. These results are based on 61 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Creative flair and a strong imagination, as well as an outstanding sense of style, always willing to try out new ideas.
- Interpersonal and communication skills:
- Communicating clearly, both verbally and in writing, in order to convey clear instructions, as well as having effective listening skills as to understand the client’s requests; and
- being able to work cohesively with other staff members.
- Organizational and time management skills:
- Having strong multitasking skills; being able to work under pressure in a dynamic, fast-paced environment;
- having time management and prioritization skills;
- being highly responsible, reliable, and organized; and
- being detail oriented and structured.
- Self-motivated and willing to work independently, as well as working within a multi-disciplinary team environment:
- Being capable of receiving constructive criticism and using it to improve their work.
- Physical strength, manual dexterity, and visual/spatial awareness:
- Being able to sit, stand, walk, bend, crouch, climb ladders, and kneel for several hours;
- being able to work in cramped, small spaces and to use power tools; and
- knowing how to maximize the use of space.
Aside from the skills listed above, in order to become a successful Visual Merchandiser, a person needs to be creative, artistic, and have a great imagination. As it is the case with many artistic careers, the educational requirements for Visual Merchandiser are not very standardized. Many successful professionals in this field rely solely on their artistic sense and creativity. However, many companies and employers will rather work with someone with a degree in Arts, Marketing, or Design, as it gives the candidate a solid educational background.
Besides a degree, most employers will also require applicants to submit a portfolio of past projects and works they’ve done in order to get an idea of their artistic style. Visual Merchandisers are also required to be proficient in software designing tools including Adobe Suite, AutoCAD, Photoshop, and Illustrator.
The actual work of a Visual Merchandiser can be divided in two: the conceptualization part and the assembling part. The first is mostly done during regular work hours at an office or at home, if the professional is working as a freelancer. However, the assembling part of their work is done directly in the location of the display or exhibition. This is often done outside of working hours in order to avoid people interfering and interrupting regular working hours of the location.
Furthermore, in many cases a single Visual Merchandiser may be responsible for several locations at once. The distance between locations may vary but they’re usually inside the same city. In order to cover larger areas many employers will hire a team of Visual Merchandisers and they will be required to coordinate their work in order to maintain a sense of consistency.
With enough experience, a Visual Merchandiser could progress to become a Visual Merchandising Manager. On the other hand, they could decide to move into Exhibition or Interior Design, or setting up their own business creating one of a kind, innovative displays.