Visual Merchandising in 2024: Navigating the New Wave of Retail

What will the visual merchandising landscape look like in 2024? Talk to TLC for in-store display solutions to leverage the latest retail trends.

Visual merchandising is an art. And it is a dynamic discipline. The strategies visual merchandisers use must constantly evolve to reflect the aspirations and preferences of the target audience.

Innovative arrangements of products using lighting, colors, and overall store layout can capture the imagination of store visitors. They can turn a window shopper's browsing tour into a satisfying shopping spree and shape the perception of a brand in the shopper's mind.

As we step into 2024, let's look at the visual merchandising practices we can expect to see across the retail landscape. We also share some Pro Tips from The Look Company’s experts on how to navigate the new wave of retail in 2024.

The Current State of Visual Merchandising

2023 was a significant year for retail and, therefore, for visual merchandisers. 

The world emerged from the shadows of months of difficult pandemic shutdowns and the hangover of supply chain disruptions. Consumer behaviors and preferences changed—and many persisted beyond the shutdowns. 

Shoppers' demands for quick digital payments, same-day deliveries, and click-and-collect models have lingered. Retailers had to adapt quickly to this evolving business landscape, and visual merchandising strategies reflected this evolution. 

At the start of 2023, we wrote about the big retail merchandising trends we expected during the year—foreseeing the importance of omnichannel shopping, SWAS, and environmentally-conscious shopping choices. And we've witnessed these trends play out in the market over the last several months. 

In our holiday special article in November, we projected key holiday retail display trends—from flexible, adaptive retail store display ideas to energy-efficient lighting systems, from immersive displays that engage shoppers to backlit LED screens to enthrall shoppers with visual narratives. 

2024 will see a continuation of many of these trends.

Exploring the Emerging Visual Merchandising Landscape for 2024

Let's explore the likely visual merchandising landscape in 2024.

#1: The end of the online-offline shopping war

For years, discussions in retail circles revolved around the possibility that online retail will oust the physical store. On the contrary, we've seen shoppers yearn for the reopening of physical retail after the pandemic. 

Physical retail has not just been revived but is thriving. 

The lines between shopping online and offline are already blurring as we speak. Brands are increasingly designing promotions that span across online and offline engagement. For example, brands may offer discounts or giveaways to consumers who answer a quiz question while tagging the brand on their social media channels. 

Larger brand showrooms allow shoppers to seamlessly "click to buy" by scanning QR codes on products or displays. The point is to ensure a consistent and cohesive brand experience whether customers are in-store or browsing online. 

Of course, the in-store experience is continuously evolving—and to the credit of the visual merchandising community, it is taking the best of digital and online experiences and incorporating them into in-store merchandising strategies to improve customer experience

After all, physical retail has its trump card—the ability to provide a tactile experience to shoppers—where shoppers can not just see but also feel and touch products before buying them. That is something that the online experience can't deliver (as yet)! 

And it's what keeps consumers coming back to retail stores.

In 2024, expect omnichannel shopping to be the default—not an emerging trend anymore. Omnichannel is how we are!

#2: Social sharing will continue to impact shopping behavior, and social media ROI will skyrocket

Social media and shopping are already seamless. Most retailers, even smaller ones today, have Instagram-worthy in-store spaces as social sharing magnets. Ultimately, social sharing translates into word-of-mouth marketing. 

For example, brand channels may give social media love to a fan who takes a photo at their store and then posts it on their social channels while tagging the brand. 

Visual merchandisers will continue to focus on social media-worthy displays and Instagrammable design.

With increased social media engagement, we expect brands to see more bottom-line impact in the coming months.

#3: Retail display design will align with shoppers' values

In 2024, retail displays featuring imagery signifying authenticity, minimalism, and sustainability will dominate. These are the values that Gen Z shoppers hold dear. 

Gen Z is all about authenticity. They won't believe brand messages that are too far-fetched from the truth they experience around them. And they won't fall for blatant marketing. They like clean and clutter-free design and will likely appreciate the same minimalism in retail displays. 

Sustainability initiatives are a big winner with Gen Z. There is a growing demand for environmentally responsible practices in every sphere—and visual merchandising is not an exception.

Shoppers don't want to see extravagant and wasteful displays, even if they are stunning or cleverly put together. They want brands to be socially responsible, to care for the planet, and to invest in a greener tomorrow. Correction: They don't just want this; they demand it from the brands they follow or use.

Displaying a commitment to the environment is now a necessity for brands—not a chic option for luxury brands anymore. It's a part of the changing preferences of shoppers.

Already, we've seen retailers turn used or discarded materials into eye-catching concept displays. For instance, Anthropologie focuses on window displays using recyclable materials—such as a Fall special display that crafted oak leaves from recycled mail and repurposed Anthropologie bags.

PRO TIP for retail displays in 2024: Keep an eye out for energy-efficient lighting solutions and mandate the exclusive use of eco-friendly materials for your in-store displays, avoiding wasteful displays. 

The Look Company is working hard to provide our customers with sustainable products and services to support green initiatives. We strive to lessen our environmental impact by choosing materials that are eco-responsible while improving our manufacturing processes to be sustainably impactful.

#4: Personalization will be key

Companies are increasingly leveraging technology to analyze consumer data and identify consumer preferences and shopping behaviors. Based on these, they drive insights and predict trends.

In 2024, we will see data insights trickle onto the shop floor. In-store displays will leverage data from digital technologies and use it to deliver more customized or personalized visual merchandising strategies. 

The unique aspect of physical retailers is that they take personalization beyond just statistics and algorithms. Whether it is product display ideas that project the aspirations of their audience or in-store events that meet the needs and wants of shoppers, retailers work to tailor experiences to their audience.

Adaptive display solutions allow visual merchandisers to cater to various types of customers and their diverse interests. It may be a product demo, a workshop or a makeover. Or a SWAS initiative in partnership with a complementary product or brand. Modular fittings, removable walls and temporary kiosks allow retailers to keep their retail spaces fresh and engaging for shoppers.

In 2024, retailers will go all out to personalize in-store events for loyal fans and returning customers. 

Ultimately, physical retail is about connecting with shoppers at a deeply human and personal level—and that is the strength that retailers will focus on in 2024.

PRO TIP: In 2024, take a step back to focus on the human element in retail design. The pandemic left shoppers yearning for more than a device to do their shopping. They're back now, lapping up in-store experiences with a new-found zeal. They cherish in-person interactions with sales associates—and if your sales team can give them attention and personalized shopping suggestions, your retail store is sure to be a winner in 2024!

Navigating the Future of Retail: Challenges and Opportunities

The future of visual merchandising is dynamic and exciting. As technology evolves and consumer preferences shift, we can expect more innovative, new retail trends to emerge.

Delivering innovative and eye-catching displays constantly with each season and every new product launch is challenging. Visual merchandisers must cycle through various visually stimulating styles—often going full circle to what was trending a few years ago.

But no matter what imagery or modular display units you use during the coming year, ensure you create a strong visual identity that resonates with your target audience. Differentiate your retail space from your competitors, and enjoy retail success in the coming year!

Being aware of the latest retail design trends has immense benefits.

The Look Company is your ideal partner for innovative display solutions to leverage every new retail trend. 

Our extensive range of visual engagement solutions helps you embrace change, experiment with new strategies, and stay ahead of the curve, creating compelling customer experiences.

We provide end-to-end services, including hardware manufacturing, printing, kitting, project management, and installation.

Connect with us to discuss your 2024 visual merchandising strategy, and our experts can recommend the best display solutions to turn your retail display ideas into winning in-store displays!