We recently spoke to Iain Kimmins, visual merchandising and shop window expert. We are proud to announce that Iain will be one of our judges for our Britain’s Best Shop Window #BestShopWindowUK Instagram competition. We had to learn more about his experiences and how independent business owners can impress potential customers with their shop window designs.

Can you tell us about the work you do?

I have worked in the Visual Merchandising industry for over 20 years. After training as a Visual Merchandiser, my career started at Harrods, then onto Selfridges and more recently as Head of Visual Merchandising for Tangs in Singapore. I now run my own Visual Merchandising Consultancy Business – Creative Download. I have had the opportunity to work on various projects in New York, Switzerland, Shanghai, Singapore, and Saudi Arabia of all places! I help retailers, large and small with Window Concepts, In-Store Presentation, Store Layout, and Product Presentation. I also teach Visual Merchandising and create VM Guidelines. It is very much creating a strategy and the implementation. VM is very much rolling your sleeves-up, moving fixtures and merchandise to create the “wow” factor in your shop for that all important person, the customer. So being creative and commercially minded is key.

In addition to this, I am also the Chairman of The British Display Society. We are a VM/Educational organisation.

Why do you care about the high street?

The UK is a nation of shop-keepers and High Streets. I am very passionate about keeping the High Street local to the neighbourhood, which has to be good for the local economy. Why drive to an Out-of-Town shopping complex when you can shop in your local High Street?  With the increase of online shopping, retailers must step up a gear and entice customers back to the High Street and into their stores. The major starting point is ensuring excellent and eye-catching window displays and good store presentation. Retailers need to create retail theatre. Customers want excitement and retailers need to give their customers a memorable shopping experience. You don’t get retail theatre and excitement from ordering your goods on-line! Every business needs to understand the need to evolve and adapt and keep up with the ever-changing consumer. The High Street is where you will find independent shops selling something that is generally not available in a department store or shopping mall.

What makes a great shop window?

Retailers must remember that their store window is the cheapest form of advertising. It is the face of their store and one of the most important elements of their business. Do remember that a passing customer only has a few seconds to stop, look and decide whether to enter the shop. Those first few seconds are crucial. An overall concept is key to a great shop window, mixed in with colour and good product groupings. The windows need to be fun, eye-catching and relevant the merchandise and your business. Remember the phrase “You Don’t Get A Second Chance To Make A First Impression”.

What are the most common mistakes that business owners make with their shop window displays?

Sadly, time and time again, retailers cram too much merchandise into every available space, which makes the entire window cluttered. The customer does not know where to look first. Rather like the phrase “less is more”. The lifespan of a window is generally 6 weeks, any longer then the merchandise becomes dusty and customers will be bored with looking at the same window display. While some shop staff maybe ‘creative’, always use the services of a professional trained window stylist. You might be quite surprised on how little it costs but the impact is huge.

Are there any visual merchandising trends that small local businesses should be aware of?

Local retailers should keep continually source new and exciting merchandise. Retailers need to create and influence the customer. Embrace the seasons, reinventing traditional themes, create excitement and retail theatre. Keep ahead of local or national events and plan your window concept accordingly.

Where can we find out more about you?

Visit my website: www.creative-download.co.uk

You can also follow Creative Download on Instagram and Facebook.