Books. Colour. Pop.

Updated: Feb 8, 2021

As a book advisor at the London Science Museum, it was part of my job to understand not only the books themselves but the customer. Being a Museum, the target audience would change throughout the year, from school groups during term time, to tourist groups during European Half-terms to British families during our own holidays. This means a lot of visual changes through the year, however, the most common trait through these changes is the use of colour to entice.

After we completed the Museums new shop refit, there was inevitable learning and adapting to the new layout. We had a completely new entrance and exit points, a whole new floor as well as the usual changing of the season. We saw sales dip in comparison to the previous year and needed to look at new ways of increasing sales. The short term tool I could see helping was a shot of colour to entice.

Unlike book stores, the book section within the museum is relatively small, I therefore believed that separating books based on a theme was less important than the pulling in of customers. As unhelpful as it sounds, giving the customer an opportunity to search for their item themselves leads to more time spent in the vicinity where they can find interesting new products while it gives us as a retailer to show off our offering.

Understanding that this was an area worth sacrificing, I had a play with different layouts. I still wanted a logical layout so that it didn't look messy but wanted something to pop. During our initial instal of the new shop, we worked in collaboration with 'Darkroom' where one of the founders spent some time helping with the visual merchandising aspect. A theme that she brought from her company was colouring. As a Bauhaus movement inspired company, colours are an important aspect and it converted well into aspects of the visual merchandising. Because of this already implanted theme, I feel I had the freedom to transfer this over into the book section.

The book area shrunk in size and we ended with a small section for the children area, covering around 5mX2m. This was concentrated in one area and enforces my logic of the need for themes to be minimal. Customers had such a small area to search it seems unnecessary to overly organise such a small area. we themed by age/genre, I decided to scrap genre and go for colour. Not only did I feel this would bring footfall towards the book section, but because the shop was now extremely open plan, coupled with the book section located at the far back corner, this may well draw customers deeper into the shop.

I staggered the layout of the bay with flat shelves and bookshelves to create a more interesting layout and then started with the coloured layout. I used the X-axes for colour and the Y-axes by age which gave logic to the layout and prevented placing books being placed together. Carol Vorderman does not belong side by side with Peppa pig! Activity books sat at the top. This layout incidentally lined up well with the best sellers (Early years) Being placed at eye level with activity and KS1 placed above and below while the lower sellers placed at the bottom.

After the new colour themed layout, I believe it created a cleaner more appealing book area that not only plays on the customer's subconscious but their self-conscious, It's such an obvious decision that you cannot help but notice. I Don't believe this is an ultimate layout and is very specific to the needs and requirement of the layout but I do believe colour is important. In an age of Snapchat and Instagram, we've become a very visual people, however short term. Something new and intriguing may well give retailers that much needed a few extra minutes to sell a product.

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