As a visualÂ merchandiser, display designer or window dresser,Â it would be your job toÂ createÂ eye-catching product displaysÂ in shops and stores.
You would be responsible for presentingÂ products in a way thatÂ attracts customers and maximises sales.Â This could mean anything fromÂ decorating a store inÂ a seasonal theme â€“ such as Christmas or spring salesÂ â€“ to making sure your store’s displays fit the company’s brand image.
Your day-to-day tasks might include:
- designing ideas for displays, or following a company designÂ plan
- creating special displays to promote a specific product or promotion
- drawing designs and plans by hand or computer
- deciding how to use space and lighting creatively
- creating branded visual merchandising packs to send to each branch of a store
- giving feedback to head office and buying teams
- setting up displays, dressing dummies, and arranging screens, fabric and posters
- hiring, borrowing or making props
- making sure that prices and other necessary details are visible
- coaching sales staff on how goods should be displayed
- taking down old displays.
In a large retail company, you would work as part of a display team and follow design plans that were created at head office by a visual merchandising manager or senior display designer.
What qualifications and experience will employers look for?
You would normally take one of two main routes to becoming a visual merchandiser or display designer. You could come from a background in design, or you could work your way up through the retail industry.
If you choose to train in design first, you may have an advantage by taking a specialised qualification in display or merchandising, such as:
- a degree in Exhibition and Retail Design
- a Foundation Degree in Display Design or Visual Merchandising.
Other useful courses include BTEC HNDs, foundation degrees and degrees in interior design, fashion marketing, retail management or visual communications. You should check exact entry requirements with colleges or universities.
Alternatively, you could take qualifications from the British Display Society (BDS) before you look for work. The following courses are available at a small number of colleges:
- Certificate in Visual Merchandising and Merchandising Handling Skills (part-time short courses)
- General Certificate in Display (one year full-time)
- National Diplomas in Point of Sale Design or Retail Display Design (two years full-time).
The BDS has also introduced a new online course, the BDS Distance Learning Certificate in Display and Visual Merchandising. You can find out more about this on their website.
- British Display Society â€“ Distance Learning Certificate in Display and Visual Merchandising
You may not need qualifications in display design if you have a strong retail background, or experience in related areas like interior design or photography.
You may be able to get into the retail industry through an Apprenticeship scheme. The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers. To find out more, visit the Apprenticeships website.
What further training and development can I do?
You will usually develop your skills on the job. Large retail companies often have in-house structured training programmes for their display staff.
If you are on a retail Apprenticeship, you may be able to work towards a Certificate or Diploma in Retail Skills (Visual Merchandising) as part of your work-based training. The qualifications are awarded by bodies including ABC Awards, City & Guilds, Edexcel and OCR, and may be available at local colleges and National Retail Skills AcademyÂ training centres.
- National Retail Skills Academy
You may also be able to study forÂ British Display Society (BDS) qualifications whilst you are working. See the BDS website for more information.