While some industry experts may believe that displays and other visual aspects of store design are the most basic elements of retail, especially in a sector that continues to expand in a more technology-focused direction, there is still a strong case for the benefits of effective visual merchandising in retail strategy.

Window displays and other key locations in the retailing space are no longer simply defined by lifeless mannequins and a rack of clothes. As an increasingly younger workforce takes the lead in the industry, they are changing how and why visual merchandising needs to occur.

This can be seen through the incorporation of technology and texture in more and more displays, weaving together fabrics to stimulate all the senses. Colours and patterns sit alongside iPads, TVs and other devices in many a shop window – perhaps a reflection of current attitudes to shopping?

The standard glow of fluorescent light bulbs is quickly losing its stronghold in visual merchandising too. Designers are looking to LEDs and other types of light source to add to the drama and theatricality that many customers expect when shopping, especially in the fashion retail sector.

Coloured gels, glowing bulbs and other fixtures are making sure that customers’ gaze are solely focused on the products being displayed. Again, appealing to the senses is a strong way to lead a customer from the door to the cash desk in a store, as well as ensure a strong overall visual aesthetic.

Another interesting development is seeing the rise of interactive displays. Once an area of the store with a ‘look but don’t touch’ stance, VMs are increasingly encouraging customer interaction with the displays. Whether that’s scanning a bar code on a mobile device, or using the latest technology to digitally ‘try before you buy’, the gap between the visual displays and consumers is steadily narrowing.