ENG. So these past days while I was working in the opening of the Just Cavalli store in Milan, I realized the importance of having a good visual merchandiser! That is why I decided to interview Sascha Voltmann who works as a visual merchandiser in Guess, since I know he’s great at his job and all of us could learn tons with him. Visual merchandisers are in charge of creating attractive visual displays in retail outlets to motivate sales. His or her main objective is to increase sales and buyers’ attentions through creative strategy. I hope you enjoy this interview and find it as interesting as I did!
How did you get into this field?
Actually I came into this field with my first job. I have a degree in retail management and for that reason I started working in retail. I worked as a store manager assistant in a super sized store. There, I had the opportunity to work as a visual merchandiser, which is all about the product presentation: how you display a product that will attract customers so they will eventually buy the product, even without a sales assistant helping them. I worked at a super sized store where you can buy all kinds of house related products. Therefore, I had the opportunity to build up structures and displays to create different spaces; there, I had all the elements to be creative. By starting in store management in this particular store, I was able to understand I was good at product display and presentation and that is how I decided I wanted to enter this field.
What are the characteristics needed to be successful in your job?
It is important to be talented and creative. Also, you have to have a basic knowledge of the retail environment. It is important to have some basic knowledge of psychology or consumer behavior to be able to know your customers and know how humans see the world and the way you want them to see the world in your store. You also need to be sensitive to colors and the product itself especially if you want to work in fashion. At the same time you have to have some knowledge of numbers and the commercial part since you need to understand what is not selling to push it with a particular display. Therefore, you have to have the talent to combine all these elements to successfully display the products in the store so they can work. In that way the sales assistant can understand them and they can successfully sell the products to increase sales. It is also very important to be social and open, especially in my case. I am a visual merchandiser for Africa, Europe and Middle East, so I work with very different people, cultures, languages and different rules and ways of doing businesses. Therefore you have to be very social, open minded, speak some languages and be flexible. Also organization is a plus but usually people in this field are not so organized, I am lucky because I am German.
What is your job all about?
As you all know in fashion everything starts from an inspiration or idea of a designer and sometimes when the buyers buys the collections this idea gets a bit fragmented since they are really not following the original theme of the designer but are focusing more on what will sell. Therefore, my job is to put the products the buyers bought from the collection all together in order to recreate the original theme and to give the stores the spirit the designers had in mind for the collections. My job is to transmit the original story of the designers, to bring it alive so the customer can have the feeling and can understand the collection. It is important to know that even though you have to be creative in my job you are not the designer of the collection, you are there to represent the designer’s vision and to help it get interpreted correctly.
My job involves about 80 to 90% of traveling. This is due to the fact that you cannot explain everything by emails or telephone, you have to be there in the store and show them how things are merchandised. You also have to explain to the sales team what the product is all about, what kind of quality the product has, why the product is special ect. My job is also about motivating the sales team so they can be able to sale the products well. Also you have to remember that the overall objective is to sell so you should keep a balance between creativity and reality, because at the end you want to show the merchandise in a proper way so it can sell. In simple words my job consists in transmitting a message, keeping it simple and to help make the product sell.
Wait next week for the 2nd part!
courtesy of the design hoarder