Visual Merchandising: 3×3 Merchandise Presentations

Planning the Retail Merchandise Presentation

Visual merchandisers utilize the same tools, art elements, and design principles in order to establish the store ambience or atmosphere and environment, merchandise the store and/or department, and create displays. The art elements include color, texture, proportion, line, and shape, while the design principles include composition, balance, repetition, rhythm, and dominance.



The first one-third of the department is the primary selling area of the store. As the entrance to the store must be exciting and inviting to the target consumer, the window area of the storefront, if applicable, or the aisle area of the department must make a statement or entice the customer to come into the department. This area is denoted as windows-on-the-aisle to correspond to previous times in retail when stores on main streets in all cities across the U.S. had beautiful window displays. These illustrative works of art or theatrical and dramatic displays were created in order to attract the attention of the target consumer and to acquaint the customer with the merchandise mix, brands, and product classifications available in the store!


Bread-and-Butter or Core

The second area in the 3 x 3 Merchandise Presentation is the Bread-and-Butter or core of the store or department. The Bread-and-Butter is the center of the department that houses the volume merchandise. More specifically, this is usually the location where the classic, basic, and/or volume merchandise assortments, coordinated groupings, promotional merchandise, and sometimes sale or reduced merchandise are presented and displayed.


Top or Vista Walls

These walls are the second most important selling area in the store or department. Here again, color is the number one element to address and line selection follows closely behind or is second for merchandising and displaying product. Balance and proportion are the next essential elements to consider when planning the merchandise presentation in a large expanse of wall space.