Visual Merchandising

Your how to guide on being a visual merchandiser...

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Role of a visual merchandiser...

Visual Merchandisers use their design skills to help promote the retailer's image and products as well as other organisations. They create eye-catching product displays and store layouts and design to attract customers in to their store and encourage them to buy.

To become a visual merchandiser, you would usually either have a background in design or work your way through the retail industry. You could also gain a higher education qualification in display or merchandising. A visual merchandiser has to have a high level of attention to detail. They must also complete works to deadlines as well as working in a team is also important.

As a visual merchandiser in a large retail company, you would work as part of a team as when you're creating your window display, you will need help with moving heavy objects around or someone to support you when you're working on a ladder. You would have to follow design plans created by visual merchandising manager or a senior display manager from head office. Your role may overlay with a display designers roles, who designs things like display stands, stock containers and sales posters.

Depending on your responsibility, 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 the best use of a store's space layout
  • Sourcing display materials and hiring, borrowing or making props
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 coordinates often prepare visual merchandising pack to send to other stores, so that all stores have same company look and feel. When a customer see's a certain design or image that is featured in your shop display, they are more known to think of your brand or store.

Skills, Interests and Qualities...

To become a visual merchandiser, you will need to have:

  • A good sense of design, colour and style
  • Creativity and imagination
  • An awareness of current trends in design, fashion and culture
  • A high level of attention to detail
  • The ability to work to deadlines
  • Good communication skills
  • The ability to work well as part of a team and also alone
  • Stamina and energy
  • Technical drawing skills and good IT skills, possibly in computer.
  • Able to be fluent with various computer software


You would normally become a visual merchandiser or display designer in one of two ways:

  • By completing a retail design qualification at college while looking for work
  • By 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 is a range of qualifications that you could study towards. These include:

  • Level 2 Certificate/Diploma in Fashion Retail
  • Level 3 Certificate/Diploma in Fashion Retail
  • Level 3 Certificate/Diploma in Retail Skills (Visual Merchandising).


Starting salaries can be from £12,000 to £16,000 a year.

Senior visual merchandisers can earn around £20,000 to £25,000 a year, as they know little experience within the field. Visual merchandising managers or designers who work in head office can earn between £25,000 and £50,000 a year.

Last but not least, visual merchandising directors can earn £60,000 a year or even more. That also includes benefit packages and bonus.

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Working hours...

Working hours are normally 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. However, longer working hours may be necessary to support the opening of a new store, during a special sales promotion, to launch a new product or range, or to deal with unforeseen production difficulties.

Weekend or evening work is occasionally necessary to visit stores or for competitive shopping.

Omolara - Fashion Retail Academy

Here is a small interview with a past visual merchandiser and her opinion on what it was like working in the fashion industry. We asked her a few personal questions to see what her experience was like when working as a visual merchandiser...

Do you prefer working independently or with a team?

- Preferably a team because then I'm not alone. Having a team by my side is helpful when I need assistant when on a ladder or when carrying heavy objects around the room.

What did you learn from being a Visual Merchandiser?

- The ability to work in a team as well as working independently. I also learnt to work creatively and to let my imagination explore into various new creations and designs. I also learn to try my best at everything I do and to take criticism and work on it so I push myself harder and harder so I can create the best VM.

What makes you want to be a Visual Merchandiser?

- I have always had an interest in fashion and I just love photography. They are both a very fond passionate of mine. I always enjoy making new props for window displays and store layout that help interact and entice customers into the store.

Favourite aspect of Visual Merchandising?

- I love styling new store layouts and using the store layout wisely and effectively to create new things. I like to changing trends around the store, when I see new things, I style them and throw it on to a mannequin because customers don't want to keep seeing the same old stuff again and again and you'll lose customers like that. Last but not least, I enjoy visiting other stores and looking at their window displays and store layouts. It's good to see what other people's windows are like and how their window display can help portray their brand and what's in store.