Choosing a visual merchandiser is definitely of strategic importance for companies.
You will have noticed how in the last decade Visual Merchandiser’s research and offer have grown exponentially.
If until yesterday the shop fittings were entrusted to sales staff with a particular sensitivity to the product, today what was then called window dressing has become Visual Merchandiser.
Please NEVER call a Visual Merchandiser a window dresser, it could kill you! (I would…). Unfortunately, still today the typical conversation is:
They: “What do you do?
Me: “Visual Merchandiser”
Their option A: silence, they have no idea what you are saying.
Their option B: “ah ok the window dresser.” …and the dead man might escape…
Their option C: “ohhh, then you’re creative.”
So, let’s have a moment of order, a visual is not necessarily an extravagant, creative person, who enjoys setting up a showcase as if it were a set for a dream trip.
The visual profession has definitely changed today, together with an undeniable sensitivity for harmony, proportions, balance and beauty (which is always subjective).
Today, to be a 360° professional, you need to be able to reconcile commercial objectives and marketing strategies with a pleasant, harmonious and balanced setup, without ever forgetting to keep looking at what happens around us, in markets near and far, in technology, in society, in entertainment.
Today a visual is a figure halfway between a psychologist and a marketer, between a pragmatist and a creative.
Balancing so many sometimes opposing characteristics is really difficult, so how to choose the right professional for you?
First of all you need to clarify what you are looking for:
- Someone to set up the shop and also take care of sales?
- A creative person who takes care of the shop windows?
- Someone who will transform the store and give you a new look?
- An image consultant?
- A stylist?
- A strategist?
- A magician?
…or maybe someone who does a little bit of that?
Well, the last hypothesis you can cancel the last one right now, because those who pretend to be all-powerful are already not telling it right.
Often I’ve seen visuals posing as such after setting up only a small wall, but if left alone to revolutionize a store go into an immediate panic, imagine what would happen if they were asked to reorganize the layout of a store, manage a network of stores, organize orders of materials, create guidelines, etc. …
Surely those who would pay the consequences would be those who have made the wrong choice of the candidate and then be wary of those who already have a mania of omnipotence, because it is very normal for a visual have particular attitudes.
Some are better on the display, others in the window, organization, technique or creativity, choosing the right person will depend on your needs.
So how to orient yourself?
Decide first of all the activities to be entrusted to the person you are looking for, only a very clear vision of the objectives will allow you to clarify the figure you are looking for.
Number 1 – set goals
What activities will the candidate do?
Number 2 – freelance or employee?
Well, this is another very important choice. The choice of the type of collaboration between you and the Visual Merchandiser will surely depend on the type of product.
A high turnover store or with a large network of stores will certainly need an internal figure, constantly available and present but, if you are a small store or a small chain of stores, high level perhaps, with a medium-high price and a low product rotation, you can also opt for a freelance figure, with previous experience in different areas, which would be all to your advantage.
The freelancer is a figure who par excellence must remain updated, dynamic, curious, proactive and proactive; his work is not guaranteed by a contract on which you can then relax, but it will all depend on his professional and empathic skills and his real ability to work and willingness to stay updated.
There are also agencies, let’s not forget them, that with the network of collaborators scattered (in Italy and abroad), can guarantee you a good image coordination and consulting service.
Often the presence of different internal figures in the agency with different experiences, professionalism and sectors of origin, can be the right mix you were looking for, without risking to make the wrong choice, because both in the case of freelancers and agencies you will be free to change your choice if the right decisions have not turned out to be the right ones.
Number 3 – free search on social channels
If the dear old CV has now become a prehistoric tool, let’s not forget that it can provide us with a first rough idea of a candidate, the congruence of his professional path undertaken, his studies, how to propose himself, etc.. However, the CV provides us with information that would otherwise be more difficult to retrieve.
Then there are the socials. Web pages, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, youtube channels, and so on.
Depending on the figure you’re looking for, surely one of these channels will tell you something more about the candidate and, if you’re good, by crossing the data you’ll immediately understand any lies or phantasmagorical experiences that do not exist or, on the contrary, will make you discover skills that the candidate may not have considered appropriate to describe and tell.
Each small element can tell you something more about the potential candidate and make you proceed with the contact request.
Number 4 – The interview
The meeting in the flesh will be the test of the nine, and trust me, at the first interview more than half of the candidates will self-eliminate with their own hands, because few questions can immediately reveal many truths about the candidate’s experience, his or her real skills and abilities.
Relevant and skillfully asked questions can reveal the candidate’s real past experience, but to do this, the person in charge of the selection must know exactly what the visual role is, what peculiarities of the work to be done, what tasks, what skills and past experience are needed, etc…
It will seem obvious, but it also happens to do interviews with people who do not have a clear idea of the role of visual merchandiser within the company, because this role can vary greatly from company to company so I repeat, it will be FUNDAMENTAL to decide in advance what tasks will be entrusted to the candidate.
Number 5 – The test
Since the work of the visual merchandiser is 60% manual, what better way to test the potential candidate than through a set-up test? From there you will be able to understand a lot, you will see if he is familiar with the work, the technique, the spirit of initiative, how he works with the staff and how he moves around the store.
In case you are looking for a more senior figure, who manages a network of visual, you can only rely on your instinct and maybe a few phone calls to verify the real previous experiences. Some would make false cards today to enter the fantastic world of visual merchandising.
Because in addition to the candidate a good dose of luck will also be useful to you.
A good visual merchandiser can help you change the perception of the point of sale and significantly increase sales, let’s never forget that this is the main goal of every activity.