Monday, 17 December 2012

Tip of the Week

That's right,

Now those of you that follow Flourishing Retailers can see the Flourish Design & Merchandising Tip of the Week as well!

This week's tip:

Remember to breathe and just focus on customer service this week. You'll have plenty of time to regroup and re-merchandise in the new year.

...Or next week... or any other time.  This week (especially Saturday and Sunday) is likely to be the busiest your store will get, so enjoy the chaos, forget about the day to day, and focus on amazing customer service!

Happy Holidays!

Interested in hearing more from Flourish?  Follow us on facebook, twitter, and Pinterest too!

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Lollipop Love - Twisted Tissue Lollipops

I thought it would be fun to include some blog posts about creating props, so I've been waiting for a great prop project to blog about!

There's no sense in beating around the bush, so here it is...  The Twisted Paper Lollipops tutorial!

These Lollipops were created for a tree in Festival of Trees Edmonton (for the University Hospital Foundation), but could be used in a window display, candy shop, or for a party!  All you need to do is use your imagination... and get comfortable in front of the TV while you twist the tissue paper for them.

  • Tissue Paper in Various colours, plan for approximately 6 pieces for a small lollipop and at least 10 for a large one
  • Strong, sharp scissors
  • Glue or strong adhesive of your choice
  • Paper Plates
  • Chopsticks or other sticks
  • Cellophane if desired
  • Tape
  • Ribbon if desired
  • Something to protect your workspace

Start by cutting your paper plates into desired size.  It helps to at least cut the lip off the edge, allowing the plate to flatten a bit.
Then begin twisting your tissue, one sheet at a time.  Plan which colours you want for each pop and twist according to how many you think you'll need.  It's faster and easier to twist first and glue later.
Next, it's time to get ready for glue!  Remember to protect your surface before adhering the tissue!  Twist the pieces together and begin by gluing in the center of your plate.

Rotate and twist around the glued down center, gluing every inch or so.  I used hot glue which adheres quickly, but beware: hot glue burns!  It's actually really tough not to burn yourself when working with hot glue and tissue paper.  I'd love to hear other adhesive suggestions in the comments section below, just not that double sided tape didn't work very well and I don't recommend it.

Keep twisting and rolling your tissue around (twist sections together and adhere with a dot of glue when you need to attach a new piece) until you reach the end.  Once you've filled your paper plate completely, finish it off with a dot of glue and trim the end.
Now you're ready for what comes next!  Some might want to leave them like this, others may want to just add cellophane, and I added a stick.  This gave them the traditional lollipop look and created some stability so that I could wire them to the tree.  It all depends on what you're planning for their end use!
I attached the chopsticks to the backs simply by breaking them apart and adhering them with electrical tape in white as you see below.
Wrapping them in cellphane is easy, just cut a piece large enough, wrap, and twist around the stick.  Then tie a ribbon around it!
I used curling ribbon to tie first and trimmed it down so that it would be easy to cover up.  I did this so that I didn't have to worry about making it pretty, I just needed to think about getting it tight.  Pretty comes next.
Next, I trimmed the cellophane at the bottom by giving it small snips and then tearing pieces off.  Last, but not least, tie it with a ribbon!
If I was going to use it somehwere where the stick could be seen, I would have painted the chopsticks white or purchased white dowels, but since the stick would be mostly hidden, a bare chopstick worked!  Boy am I glad I saved them...  Sometimes hoarding pays off I guess, wink wink! 
Use your imagination for colour combinations and lollipop applications!  Mine were in this tree, but yours could be used anywhere!  Just plan for an hour per lolli...  That's how long it took me, anyway!  If you have any suggestions for adhesives or speeding up the process, I'd love to hear them.  Otherwise, enjoy your new tissue paper lollipops!
Do you need ideas for props or displays in your store?  Feel free to contact Melissa of Flourish Design & Merchandising or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Music and Your Store

An awesome collegue cohort, and client of mine recently emailed me this great question and I just had to share it with all of you!
Hi Melissa,
I've been wondering about the relationship between music and shopping for a bit and maybe you can help me. I'm trying to research the relationship between BPM (beats per minute) and retail sales. Whenever I go to the malls all I ever hear is high BPM dance and pop music but I find this irritating  I would assume that all these big chain stores are playing this music because it is proven to increase sales. Maybe it's a stimulant? The one research paper I came across online found that stores that played more relaxed music saw customers that lingered longer in stores and therefore were more likely to purchase more...What do you think?
The Answer:
I, myself, haven’t read a whole lot of research.  In fact, I don’t think there’s a ton out there.  But I do think that the study you read is among the most accurate.
If you choose music that your target market or core customer likes the best, they will linger longer.  It’s also important to have music that doesn’t drive you or your staff members nuts!  If you’re on edge, your customers will sense it. 
The truth is a happy customer and a customer who is in tune with the environment buys more, so don’t worry about what the malls are doing because your customers don’t shop there all that much.  The reason we see malls choosing the music they do is that they’re generally trying use top 40 type music to appeal to the masses.  There are also loads of stores in the malls that appeal to teens and young adults and that is the music that they like best.
If you really want to focus on choosing music that your customers like best; you could try creating a survey monkey survey (or use a similar software or system) and invite them to complete it or complete it with them at the till!  It could be fun and customers get to feel involved.  Also, I’m sure most branding gurus would say that the music you choose needs to fit with your brand.  If your brand isn’t a teeny bopper, high octane, brand... I wouldn’t worry about pushing the high speed music.
Last, but not least, we come to holiday music...  I know it's not everyone's favourite, but it’s an absolute must.  That’s where most of the retail studies pertaining to music have been done and it’s proven to drive sales up quite a bit!  Usually, the chain stores start weaving in the odd quiet holiday song about November first, then after Remembrance day, you’ll hear it every 2nd or 3rd song (you may have to make custom CD’s or playlists for your store).  As of December first, it should be all Holiday, all the time!  You will get the odd customer that may complain about it, but even they will be more likely to pick up a couple of Christmas gifts (should that be applicable) because it’ll be top of mind.
Here are some links to research I've found!
And here's a little bit on the Shoppers Drug Mart Holiday music "controversy"
I gladly welcome all of your questions and comments!  Please add your comments!

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Designing the Customer Experience - Capital Ideas

A little while ago, I was flattered to be invited as a panelist to the Capital Ideas event (for the Edmonton Journal) called "How Do I Design a Great Customer Experience?" along with Kirsten Proulx and Jason Suriano!  It was an awesome experience and so much fun, so I wanted to share some of the key takeaways with you!

What's the most important thing you've learned about designing a customer experience?

  • The customer experience begins before the customer even enters the store. -Kirsten
  • Ensure you greet the customer -Kirsten
  • Anything you can do to make shopping easy and exciting for the customer will really enhance their experience -Melissa
  • If the product isn't acceptable to my team, then I won't bring it to the end user. -Jason
  • I play the role of customer for my team. -Jason
    • Tweet: @ABCraftAlert: Customer service starts before your customer even comes in the door - displays, signage, making experience easy to navigate #capitalideas
    • Tweet: @Randwulven: #capitalideas If you don't enjoy the experience, why would your customer? @jasonsuriano
    • Tweet: @_SoleRevival: Make it easy and enjoyable for people: Put natural "go with" items together on the floor - you said it, Melissa! Great tip. #capitalideas

Examples of a great customer experience

  • Teamwork, consistency, branding, and environment help to create a great customer experience.
    • Tweet: @ABCraftAlert: Inspire the customer and get them excited about the product. Then mix that with the store owners passion for the product #capitalideas

Dealing with "problematic customers"

  • When a customer comes to you with a problem, be grateful that they've provided you with the opportunity to fix that issue. -Melissa
  • "I'll often ask my team; so what did we do wrong?" -Jason
  • A customer complaint can hurt because it's something you want to do well and take pride in, but I'm glad that the customer acknowledged the problem -Kirsten
    • Tweet: @RyanGJMcGregor: Upset clients are not an imposition... They are an opportunity! #capitalideasYEG
    • Tweet: @ABCraftAlert: There is no such thing as a bad customer. It's an opportunity to be a problem solver #capitalideas It's bad when you don't hear from them

Applying lessons from past to present

  • There are two types of customers in the restaurant industy; the kind that wants you there all the time as a part of the experience and the kind that wants you to be invisible.  That directly applies to what I do now. -Jason

How do you motivate your sales staff?

  • Treat your employees the way you want them to treat your customers. -Melissa
  • Personally tell your employees that they're doing a great job. -Melissa
  • I wouldn't inflict straight commission on my employees. -Kirsten
  • The customers generally always come back if you provide them with a great experience. -Kirsten

The "treasure hunt" method of shopping

  • The "treasure hunt" method of shopping does not work for everyone. -Melissa
  • We have a baby boom in Alberta right now, so be sure to accomodate strollers and busy moms! -Melissa

Measuring the effectiveness of your customer experience tactics

  • We watch to see if product sales change when displays change. -Kirsten
  • The more sales you can track, the better. What can your POS system do? -Melissa
  • Measuring customer responses has gone even more high tech than A-B testing.  We're using the gaming piece as an analytics tool. -Jason

The takeaway - What others had to say

  • A "bad" customer is your best customer -Terry
  • Responding to complaints online shows that you care -Terry
  • Accept who your customer is and go with it -Tema
  • Don't make assumptions about your customer, find out what's important to them -Tema
  • From a retail standpoint, subtle changes in how you merchandise your products made huge differences at the till -Kyle
  • If you have go-with items with a product it makes the shopping experience easier and quick for people -Kyle
Want to see more?  Have a look at some event photos on the Capital Ideas flickr page!  You can also read all of the tweets associated with #CapitalIdeas on the Storify page!  Would you like to hear more from Capital ideas and the panelists on Twitter?  Follow @CapitalIdeasYEG @FlourishDesignM @Henrys_PFT and @jasonsuriano by clicking on their links!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Light It Up - The best lighting type for your store

Lighting is so important to a store's atmosphere and can make or break the overall look and feel.  Humans feel safer in the light and so gravitate to well lit spaces, but harsh lighting can wreck the look and feel of your product.  So...  Which type of lighting will work best for you?

                            Photo by Flourish Design & Merchandising of KEYLIME                        Photo by Flourish Design & Merchandising of Bellies




·    Inexpensive at the outset with affordable fixtures
·    Easy to use, replacing lightbulbs is a breeze
·    Warm light


·    High energy cost, these are the least efficient bulbs
·    Getting harder to find and buy, some areas have even banned them
·    High heat, don't touch it while it's on!
·    Potential product damage
·    Low lifespan, they need ot be replaced often (high future cost)




·    Slightly more efficient than incandescent (only about 15% better)
·    Low cost at the outset


·    Still high energy consumption
·    High heat, again... ouch!
·    Potential product Dmage
·    Low lifespan, needs frequent replacement (high future cost)
·    Bulbs are difficult to replace as you can't touch them directly

Compact Fluorescent



·    Middle price point
·    Saves energy, more efficient than the previous two by quite a bit
·    Easy to use
·    Last longer, less frequent replacement
·    Fits into incandescent fixtures


·    Takes time to warm up, don't be late in the morning or your customers won't be able to see for a while!
·    Cool, unflattering light or pinkish light
·    Pricier than Incandescent and still need to be changed fairly regularly (in comparison to following options)
·    Unattractive appearance as some (including me) don't like the spiral
·    Not available in spot lights and non-dimmable
·    Unstable/flickering light
·    Contains some mercury

Ceramic Metal-Halide



·    High energy savings
·    Great colour quality
·    Fits halogen fixtures (if you were using halogen before, there's no need to replace the fixtures)
·    Long lifespan, low maintenance (low future cost)
·    Different sizes and shapes, including spot lights


·    Expensive at the outset (cost will be recouped over time)




·    Highest energy savings
·    Can be purchased in dimmable options
·    Available in a variety of colour temperatures, including warm
·    Available in a variety of types, including spot lights
·    Attractive fixtures are available
·    Long lifespan, low maintenance (low future cost)
·    Lower operating temperatures, extremely low likelyhood of damage to your product from light or heat!


·    Expensive at the outset (cost will be recouped over time)

While most of the headings above link to, I didn't use it as an info source, I promise!  (It is the easiest most consistent to link readers to for more inormation though.)

Here is a list of sources if you're looking for more information:

If you have any more questions about lighting or retail design feel free to leave a comment, visit the Flourish Design & Merchandising Website, or send us an email.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Are You Making Your Point?

Let me begin this post by saying I am absolutely addicted to Pinterest and I am especially addicted to posting retail pictures on Pinterest!  I'm so addicted, in fact, that when I went to create those links above, I found myself pinning...

My love for Pinterest and many of the window display pictures floating around is what inspired last week's Tip of the Week and this week's blog post.

FYI - Last week's tip: "When planning store windows, keep the end in mind. What is it that you’re trying to sell or accomplish and are you getting your point across?" 

So many times, very talented visual merchandisers or display people work really hard to create a beautiful window display... that actually doesn't sell anything.

When creating your window display ask yourself a few questions:
  1. What is the purpose of this window? OR What am I trying to accomplish?
  2. What am I trying to sell to the consumer?
  3. How much time to I have to communicate that to them?  (It's really only a handful of seconds.)
  4. To Whom am I trying to communicate my message or sell my product?
  5. Does this represent my brand?
  6. How can I accomplish this in a budget friendly and efficient way?
Seriously, keep those questions handy for window display changes.

Why should a window display have a purpose or be selling something, you ask?  (Or maybe you didn't, in fact you probably didn't.)  Because the primary job of a window display is to bring customers into the store, especially customers who weren't already headed there in the first place.  The second role of a window display is to potentially sell something, that they wouldn't have thought of otherwise, to someone (remember, around half of most buying decisions are made impulsively.)  And... last, but not least, the role of the window display is to communicate your brand, which can be through messaging, images, overall feel, etc.

Often, (especially on Pinterest) we see windows that are decorated with lovely paper sculptures or that have complicated projects in them that the retailer or their team worked tirelessly on.  Remember; these things should have a purpose and generally be in a supporting role to the product you're trying to sell or the message you're trying to communicate.

In a window display, we have very little time to communicate something to passersby or to even catch their attention.  Chances are, they're walking down the street, phone in hand (they could be talking or texting, or any number of things...), they've got cars whizzing by, there are signs everywhere, people passing...  Any number of distractions really!  It's important that your display and message are simple and easy to understand

Now, since it's difficult to find original sources for photo credit when using Pinterest, and my post could be construed as criticism (thought most of these windows were beautiful!), I haven't posted any photos of the windows that were amazing, yet not necessarily selling anything.  Sorry for the text heavy blog post!  (Wait...  I can be long winded...  Maybe they're all text heavy?)

Here's a gratuitous window display shot from Cloud Nine Pajamas last spring!  (Yeah, it's an inside view, I live in Edmonton, so in spring there was still lots of snow on the ground causing horrible glare.)  I still <3 it.

Now, know that I'm not telling you you can't do anything.  I'm just asking you to keep the above questions in mind.  If you would like to spend hours creating amazing artwork for your windows, be my guest... and remember to pin pictures after!  Just remember that, ideally, you should be changing your window displays every 4 to 6 weeks.

Happy Selling!

If you have any questions about setting your windows up to sell, to drive traffic, or to combat glare, get in touch with Flourish Design & Merchandising any time!  Feel free to follow us on twitter and facebook, too!

Feel free to comment below!

Monday, 14 May 2012

Using the 5 Senses to Your Retail Advantage

As human beings, most of us are lucky enough to have five senses: sightsoundtastetouch and smell.  This week’s Flourish tip of the week was all about stimulating as many as possible of those five senses to engage your customer to the fullest.  Getting our senses going is a way to create an exciting and memorable shopping experience for your customer.


Sight is arguably the most important of the five senses where shopping is concerned.  Customers are attracted to merchandise, first by looking at it.  The overall look and feel of your store can also have a huge impact on your sales and overall image!  

This is why visual merchandising is a career choice for many and why Flourish Design & Merchandising offers the services that we do!  Stimulating your customer’s sight is what draws them into the store, attracts them to look more closely at product, and most often entices them to buy.  Sight is one of the major ways in which we make product selection.

In order to make the most of the visual appeal of your store, ensure that everything is neat, tidy, and in its place.  Clean visual merchandising is often the most effective type.  Combine major displays and features with basic merchandising.  If everything is a “feature” the customer won’t know where to look first.

Don’t forget to include your logo!  Reinforcing the brand identity in-store is so important!

Last, but not least, if you’re not sure of the most effective way to merchandise your store visually, then hire a professional, someone who is educated and trained in visual merchandising.


Sound can have a huge impact on how we feel while we’re shopping.  The music in your store needs to feel just right to your target market.  Listening to the wrong music choice can have a very negative impact as can music that is too loud or not there at all (it makes customers very uncomfortable).  Know your target market and make your listening choice accordingly.

Consider listening to satellite radio or an mp3 player hooked up to the stereo system as well as music on CDs and other forms of non-traditional radio music.  Avoiding the commercials, talk, and occasionally poor reception is a good thing!

Here’s another thought when creating atmosphere…  What suits the merchandise that you’re selling right now?  Is spring time fast approaching and do you sell outdoor product?  Consider something with nature sounds such as birds or water to make the customer feel more “outdoorsy”.  Also know that holiday music during the holidays is an absolute necessity.  While, as retailers, we often get tired of hearing it, it is proven to increase holiday sales by getting customers in the spirit.


Okay, so you might be thinking…  How are my customers going to taste the merchandise?  This one may only apply directly to a few of you, but the rest may be able to apply it on occasion!

When you sell food of any kind, customers are more likely to buy if they get a taste.  This is actually the case by a large margin!  You will, most likely, more than make up for the cost of giving away samples in profit you make.  Not to mention, customers feel more engaged and may even buy more of other products in the store!  I always semi-jokingly tell my clients: “If you feed them, they will buy.”

Now, if you don’t sell food?  I don’t recommend tasting soaps, shirts, candles, or any other product!  Instead, on special occasions, feed your customers samples from a nearby local eatery. It’s a nice gift to give to them, you can advertise it on social media and hopefully that local eatery will be willing to sponsor at least a portion of the cost of providing those samples.


Touch rivals sight for being an extremely important sense!  If a customer can’t hold and feel a product, they generally won’t buy it.  Take a look at the customers milling about your store; they’re always grabbing things, stroking them, and picking them up, aren’t they?  That’s a good thing!

Customers may consider an item based on the way it looks, but they won’t make a final decision unless they can hold it in their hands and feel the texture, finish, etc.  The most important thing when doing your visual merchandising, is not to impede this urge.  Remove from plastic wrap, packaging, and boxes as much as possible.  At the very least, offer a sample of merchandise that is out of the package for customers to pick up and feel.  

In the case of high theft items, some of them simply must be kept under lock and key, often in a display case.  Just ensure that this display case is well-lit and that there is always someone available to pull out merchandise to show interested customers.


Smell can be a touchy subject!  What about allergies or people with different tastes?  What about conflicting scents?  These are all valid concerns.

I think that the guiding factor with scents is that less is more.  Avoid overpowering scents that will take over the entire store.  Customers can’t escape from them if they’re allergic and there’s a possibility that it will conflict with another scent in the store.

The main thing with scents is that you want to avoid having bad ones in store which is sometimes a possibility, especially when unpacking new merchandise.  Consider using a gentle air freshener or a scented product you sell.  I especially recommend something that generally eliminates odours as opposed to trying to cover them up.  Try to also remove the source of the bad smell right away!

Another creative way to use smells is by using something (again gentle) that works with the theme of a particular display. Think about a display of margarita products, for example. You could add the soft scent of lime by including some fresh limes in the display or even just their zest!  Cinnamon is popular during the holidays and pumpkin or apple pie during the fall. Grocery stores do this, too. It’s like torture when you walk in to pick up some fresh fruit or veggies in the morning and can smell fresh bread or cinnamon buns baking!

Lastly, make sure that scented product, such as candles or soaps, is available for sniffing.  If you keep all of a particular product under wraps, customers will get frustrated by not being able to give it a sniff before making a purchase!  Be sure to include a tester for lotions or sprays of any kind so that customers can give them a try!

The important thing to remember when creating a sensual store (in the purest sense of the term), is that we’re all human beings and operate in similar ways!  If you appeal to common human urges and make shopping easy, you will be successful.

Have you got more questions about the senses?  Get in touch with Melissa of Flourish Design & Merchandising today!  To get updates for new blog posts, like us on facebook or follow us on twitter!