Neeraj Nariyani, Adidas India
Visual Merchandising runs with the power of 4 Ds – Dedication, Devotion, Discipline, Determination. A good visual merchandising display approach results in more eyeballs to the stores, increased sales in the retailing space, better store operations and thus increased profits to the brand. The constant endeavor of the brand is to maintain the flawless look of their stores by showcasing the products in the most effective ways, be it exciting windows, colourful mannequin stories, enticing props or concept based merchandise displays that help to develop a loyal customer base. In present times, the visual merchandising industry is facing a lot of challenges in India with ever increasing competition. The foremost challenge is to find good VM agencies that specialise in end-to-end jobs. Good creative agencies seldom deliver good execution standards. Execution is either outsourced or limited to the metros. The conceptualisation of a concept is not weighed against the efficiencies of actual execution as execution is not the forte of agencies in India. What looks great on the screen of an agency’s account manager is far from the reality at the store level. Flawless execution is limited to the metros and the quality is compromised in Tier 3 & 4 cities due to limited regional capabilities. Another challenge is the limited use of technology due to high machinery cost and mammoth after-sales services. In today’s times, brands are focusing on lit and rotating props or lenticular/digital displays and acrylic usage has increased in last few years. The equipment needed to cater these are costly and vendors normally outsource such jobs. Laser cutting, CNC routers, etching and engraving jobs are mainly outsourced which results in high delivery cost and longer turnaround time. Quality craftsmanship is limited to a select few vendors who have the capability and resources to buy state-of-the-art equipment to achieve the best possible results. There is a growing demand for agencies and vendors who have proven experience and competence to become long-term strategic partners of the brands. Rather than merely providing advanced printing technologies or branding options, the focus should on solving the brand’s problems and to maximize the return on investment in branding through implementation of the most appropriate and customised solution in a cost effective manner. Dedicated logistics support is also not easily available today. Timely delivery of props and branding materials are of paramount importance for the sustenance of VM in India. An in-house tracking system will facilitate greater transparency and better support service. Visual merchandising is a specialist job. Unfortunately in India it is hierarchy that invariably decides what looks good and what doesn’t. Decisions regarding which product or window concept or display technique looks good is predetermined by the top management, not by the visual merchandiser. This results in lack of enthusiasm among the VM professionals and restricts their creativity. Unfortunately, in the case of a few brands VMs are led to believe that what appears white is black, if the hierarchy so decides. India is one of the fastest growing economies and FDI in retail will open up vast avenues for international brands to invest in Indian organised retailing. However, India faces a serious dearth of genuine visual merchandisers. Firstly, there is a lack of knowledge of what a VM does. Secondly, there is a serious dearth of specialised courses which furnish the youngsters with the core concepts and skills used in visual merchandising. In my opinion, the need of the hour is to provide full time visual merchandising programs which will enable the budding minds to make career choices in the domain of visual merchandising, window styling, planogramming and effective merchandising presentation. In the context of visual merchandising challenges in India, I feel why think out-of-the-box when there is a lot left inside in it. Let’s join hands in the quest to take visual merchandising in India to the next level.
Neeraj Nariyani VM Manager- North, Adidas India