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

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