Many department stores all over the world have very strong teams of Visual Merchandisers to bring in customers, boost sales and give the store an overall independent and unique vibe. With the Mecca of such department stores, Harrods, opening their Christmas store as early as late-July, it is a proven point that merchandising matters. The way products are marketed, presented to customers and psychologically distributed around the stores can have MAJOR impacts on sales figures.

Mega-brand John Lewis are no different. Aside from the (way too early) Christmas store at Harrods, John Lewis however do go all out on their seasonal displays. John Lewis pride themselves on their incredible ability to lure in customers with their spectacular merchandise displays both in store and in the branch windows.

In August last year, I completed a two-week work placement with the Visual Merchandising department of John Lewis in Cambridge where I learnt all about the way in which the brand operates its selling and merchandising schemes, as well as how the way something is presented to consumers can up sales considerably for certain product ranges. As a work experience student, I was there shadowing different members of the VM team each day. I helped with duties such as picking stock for seasonal displays and “major” displays known as “spectaculars”, dressing mannequins in all departments, distributing sale and promotional banners around the store, ironing and preparing stock for displays, refreshing bedroom displays, taking a Marc Jacobs fragrance banner to the printer to be resized, as well as helping to co-ordinate sites for the Armani and Back-to-School seasonal spectaculars.

It was definitely an experience that makes you think differently when you go shopping for yourself. I know it certainly makes me feel for those that set up the big-scale mannequin displays, those things are the most awkward, back-breaking bleeders ever!

I also got to sit in on the weekly team meetings where discussions took place about store sales that week (SUCH an eye opener!), recruitment of new staff which I found particularly interesting as it was discussed, very honestly, what they wanted and didn’t want in a VM candidate, as well as discussing the pro’s and con’s of certain candidates.

I really enjoyed my two weeks at John Lewis, I met some great people, gained experience that I found particularly intriguing, plus while I was there I got into uni which is a day I will never forget! I also got a card and gift all signed by the team as a congratulations! Definitely left on a high!

Below is a small array of some displays that I created.

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