Visual Merchandising for A People-First Retail Experience

Learn how to deliver a unique retail experience without being gimmicky

Retail today is about people. Supporting and helping people. Answering questions. That extra touch that shows you care about them. 

Your products matter, but it’s your customer service that seals the deal. Customer service and experience is what builds brand and customer loyalty. This is what gets people returning to your store.

To make this happen, your visual merchandising and store layout needs to be all about a people-first experience. 

Bright open spaces. Interactive window displays. Comfortable chairs. Space to move. Custom branded millwork. Bold retail fixtures that show and tell. Unexpected, personalized experiences. 

People-forward retail fixtures and millwork must be the focus of your visual merchandising strategy. 

Give people a positive, supportive, and helpful in-store retail experience and they will keep coming back.

What Customers Want from Retail

Your customers place a priority on good customer service and if they don’t get it, they shop elsewhere:

  • 96% of surveyed customers say they leave brands due to poor customer service
  • 62% of surveyed customers are happy to pay for good customer service
  • 55% of surveyed consumers look forward to shopping in stores
  • 40% of surveyed consumers don’t like buying without first touching and seeing the product
  • 72% of surveyed consumers showroom products
  • 45% of consumers shop primarily in brick-and-mortar stores rather than online

(Statistic sources: 53 Data-Backed Retail Statistics Shaping Retail in 2022 and Beyond, Top 11 Retail Trends (2024 & 2025), Brick-and-Mortar Retail Statistics)

Key statistics about retail stores and sales:

  • $7.18 trillion in predicted brick-and-mortar retail sales in 2026
  • 72% of consumers shop in stores every week
  • 1.067 million stores in the U.S.
  • 41% of surveyed shoppers report an experience with unhelpful retail store employees

(Statistics source: Brick-and-Mortar Retail Statistics and 2023 Retail Customer Experience Survey)

The Psychology of Retail Design and Visual Merchandising

The psychology of retail design tells us what influences customer behavior and buying decisions. 

As you audit an existing retail store design or plan for a new store opening, remember these key visual merchandising and store layout strategies:

  • Color: has a direct correlation with emotion and is a key design element in retail store design. For example, black, red, and orange can encourage impulse buying. And whereas young shoppers are attracted to bright colors, older shoppers prefer more muted and subtle colors.
  • Decompression Zone: no one likes a crowded store that bombards them with products. Use the decompression zone to welcome people to your store and ease the transition to browsing and shopping. Take advantage of retail fixtures and millwork that allow you to introduce your brand, communicate your ethos, and subtly guide consumers through the store.
  • Lighting: just like color, lighting impacts mood and emotions. The right lighting fixtures can draw attention to specific products and help lead the eyes (and feet) to your feature products.
  • Store Layout Options: your customers want direction and to be guided through your store. Design strategies such as curves, angles, signage, power walls, and interactive displays can seamlessly lead customers through your store.

The standard store layout options are: grid or straight, loop or racetrack, free-flow, and fixed path. Each of these has their advantages and disadvantages. 

The grid layout for makes it easy for shoppers to pick and choose aisles and to shop for very specific products. A loop store design is ideal for giving shoppers a guided and supported shopping experience. The free-flow layout encourages browsing, discovery and serendipity. And the fixed path is popular with big box stores using showrooms and relying on impulse purchasing.

  • Space: customers want room to move and do not want to feel crowded. People are less likely to linger over a display if they feel confined or rushed. Incorporate white space on your walls, in your shelving and fixtures, and use relaxation zones to give a feeling of space and time.
  • Checkout Displays: custom checkout displays with branded millwork are an ideal opportunity to upsell customers, reinforce your brand message, and to encourage customers to return to your store.
  • Window Displays: whether you’re in a shopping mall or on the high street, your window display needs to grab attention, communicate your brand, and give shoppers a reason to walk through your doors. You have about one second to do this.

The options are limitless but don’t forget who your target audience is and what attracts them. For example, interactive augmented reality displays, seasonal displays and targeted product placement, your mission statement, story-based themes, and more can be key visual merchandising tactics.

  • Fixtures Matter: make it easy for customers to see, touch, and buy your products. Think about how you want customers to interact with products and which products you want to feature. Retail fixture options such as display cases, display boards, shelving, gondolas, focal wall units, nesting tables, interactive touch screens and mirrors, and more must be used strategically to show, tell, guide, sell, connect, and engage customers.   

Remember – a positive retail experience is the new product in 2024. You need to create a people-first experience that helps customers feel wanted, respected, heard, and supported.

Modern Retail Fixture and Millwork Installation Trends

Striking the ideal balance of innovative visual merchandising, store layout, color and lighting, and retail fixtures and millwork is key to delivering the retail experience that builds brand loyalty. 

Your customers are savvy and are quickly turned off by retail store design that is overtly selling to them, is simply following the latest trend, or has no connection to the brand’s mission and products. 

Experience matters but it is possible to overdo it with interactive displays, touchscreens, augmented reality, and LED displays. Keep this in mind as you catch-up with the latest retail fixture and millwork trends:

  • Immersive retail displays allow customers to experience your products and brand. Think of how LEGO uses custom fixtures and millwork to give shoppers a hands-on experience with features like the Brick Lab, Tree of Discovery, and Personalisation Studio.
  • Seeing is believing when it comes to brick-and-mortar retail sales. Make it easy for your customers to test your products before taking them home. Using interactive displays that let customers see how your products fit their lifestyle and personality is an ideal way to help customers make confident buying decisions.
  • Technology is a must-have for retailers who understand the value of bridging the gaps between the digital and physical to deliver an experiential retail store. From touchscreen kiosks, design labs, smart mirrors, on-the-spot payment, augmented reality displays, and more – technology is everywhere in retail.
    But the key is to avoid the gimmicks and only use technology when it makes sense. Don’t let technology be an excuse for sub-par customer service.
  • Comfortability and relaxation rank high for customers. Everything from modern lighting design, incorporating chairs and lounge areas, in-store experiences such as coffee shops, or product assembly stations – make it easier for customers to browse, shop, learn, ask questions and get help – creating an enjoyable shopping experience free of sales pressure.
  • Convenience comes in all shapes and sizes in retail stores. Depending on your product and customers, you may have a series of pop-up store installations that sell complementary products or like Target and IKEA, launch small format stores and design studios, appealing to customers who do not like the big box experience.

There is a fine line between too much customer service and not enough. The best products and visual merchandising strategies cannot overcome pushy, absent, or bored sales staff. Remember, people abandon brands due to poor customer service – you do not want to be that brand. 

Make it easy for your customer service team to excel – give them a modern, visually appealing, and people-forward retail environment to work in. Happy employees deliver great customer service helping to create loyal customers. 

At Dynamic Resources, our unique combination of IN-HOUSE offerings makes us your single source provider for all your retail fixture and millwork installation needs.  No one understand installation better than we do. 

Contact us to learn how we handle any aspect of your business – from an individual installation to a global roll-out.