Although design, conceptualisation and planning work is completed during regular working hours, the actual installation of displays is carried out after stores have closed to the public. Freelance work is common.
Throughout all these processes, you will frequently be liaising with other retail professionals, such as buyers, marketing executives and retail merchandisers, to make sure each and every store has the right visual impact.
Senior-level managers employed by large, national and international retailers tend to earn salaries at the higher end of this scale. Although design, conceptualisation and planning work is completed during regular working hours, the actual installation of displays is carried out after stores have closed to the public. Consequently, late evening work is common.
Visual merchandisers responsible for more than one store may need to travel across their assigned areas to plan and install the latest displays, or supervise contractors hired for this purpose.
The typical entry requirement for a career in visual merchandising is a degree or diploma in a subject such as graphic design , fine art , spatial design , interior design , business studies or retail management. Structured graduate training programmes are common in the retail sector, usually covering functions such as buying, merchandising, store management and sales and marketing.
There may not be a specific programme directed towards visual merchandising, but you can move into this area once the general training programme is complete and you have the necessary skills and qualifications for the job.
Alternatively, you could begin your career as an assistant visual merchandiser. Here, you would work under the supervision of a senior professional, learn the trade and develop a comprehensive portfolio of experience before branching out on your own. Opportunities for future career progression generally involve getting promoted into a senior management role or moving laterally into a different area of retail, such as buying or retail merchandising.
Alternatively, you could become a freelance visual merchandiser and offer high-quality and innovative services to a range of different clients.
If conducting a complete store redesign, overtime or overnight work may be required. You don't need to be a graduate to enter this profession, but some higher education institutions offer awards specific to the occupation.
Some of these are available as a two-year foundation degree, with a top-up year for a full undergraduate degree. This includes courses such as:. Some major retailers do have graduate schemes for visual merchandising, but these are not very common. Many higher level visual merchandisers gain experience by working their way up from the shop floor. Postgraduate qualifications are not essential, but there are a number of professional training courses available.
Entry with an HND or A-levels is possible with art, fashion or design-based courses being useful. Again, try to gain shop-floor experience alongside qualifications. Graduates with no visual merchandising experience may find it beneficial to begin in a retail sales assistant role and get involved in visual merchandising on the shop floor. By sector, it is the UK's largest private employer.
Museums, galleries and theme parks tend to outsource their visual merchandising requirements, but may employ some entry-level visual merchandising staff. Higher-level visual merchandisers tend to work in head offices, many of which are based in London and the South East or in other large cities.
A good source of potential employers is The Retail Directory. Senior-level visual merchandisers can also be field-based, working in stores across a particular region or based within stores themselves. Employers will appreciate candidates who have a strong portfolio of relevant work that displays their abilities and potential. Fashion and retail recruitment agencies frequently handle visual merchandising vacancies, for example:.
Get more tips on how to find a job , create a successful CV and cover letter , and prepare for interviews. Many retailers have their own in-house training in brand styles and design, available to employees for continuing professional development CPD.
Potential candidates may consider the following courses in preparation for entry into the profession or to pursue them once employed.
The London College of Fashion has a variety of short courses linked with visual merchandising, including an online course and a course on the analysis of current and future retail trends, as well as foundation and graduate degrees in the discipline. The Fashion Retail Academy offers a Level 4 Diploma in visual merchandising, which includes a work placement.
Some further education FE providers offer extremely practical courses that focus on retail display and visual merchandising, e. Professional associations provide information about visual merchandising and offer training. The British Display Society BDS represents the visual merchandising and display profession and aims to promote high standards in the occupations.
ACE promotes 'commercial best practice in the cultural, heritage and visitor attraction sector by providing training and networking opportunities. There are also a number of independent visual merchandisers who run training on a consultancy basis. For visual merchandisers who have started on the shop floor, it may be possible, with experience, to become a team or an area team leader or manager. Those seeking to work at higher levels may need to have drawing skills, with desirable computer-aided design CAD skills.
The ability to communicate ideas and convey complex information in a way that can be easily understood is vital. Planning and organisation skills with the ability to lead projects from design through to completion within tight deadlines are also essential.
Promotion to head office creative and visual merchandising teams may be a possibility. Head office career structures will vary from employer to employer but could include senior, director or international roles if the company is multinational. Some experienced visual merchandisers may choose to become self-employed.
They may freelance for a client base that they have built up, or work in a training or consultancy capacity with other retailers. Experienced visual merchandisers may also find freelance project work within the events or cultural sectors. Talented visual merchandisers may find they can transfer their skills to careers in styling, prop-making, interior design, exhibition design and work within the television and film industry.
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Visual merchandising team members contribute to the advertising, marketing, and sales efforts of a retail location by designing, developing and taking charge of the visual look of . Job Description, salaries and benefits Display designers and visual merchandisers use their design skills to promote the image, products and services of businesses and other organisations. Display designers focus on designing displays, stands and panels for exhibitions, conferences and other events. Job Description Visual merchandisers are in charge of creating attractive visual displays in retail outlets. These guys make shops look the way they do, using their creativity to enhance the aesthetic appeal of window displays, walkways, counters and in-store displays.