Visual merchandisers are professionals who are experts in the process of creating and staging displays in retail stores, conventions, fashion shows, and other public events. Along with physical locations, the merchandiser of today is often called in to envision and implement online displays for retailers and others who wish to sell some type of merchandise.
One time-honored job in this field is the window dresser. Since the inception of the department store during the 19th century, creative people with a visual flair would be called upon to create displays including merchandise offered in the store. Often, the window display would be a means of advertising seasonal items as well as goods that were of long-term interest to consumers. Today, smaller retail chains sometimes retain the services of a visual merchandiser who develop a concept for a window display that can be easily set in place in all the front windows of stores associated with the chain.
The retail merchandiser may also create displays that are placed throughout the store. This is often the case when there is a desire to call special attention to certain products, such as sale items or new merchandise that is intended for use in the upcoming season. As with the window displays, these in-house displays are updated or replaced with entirely new items from time to time, as a means of keeping a fresh appearance.
Along with the retail visual merchandiser, the fashion merchandiser also envisions, creates, and implements a visual display to attract customers. Fashion merchandisers work with designers to marry recent creations with the perfect environment to introduce the new line to potential buyers. This can include laying out the stage, lighting, and other elements that call attention to the fashions themselves and heighten the desirability by helping the customer envision when and where the garment can be worn.
One of these creative professionals may accept assignments from many different clients, or work for a single employer. The merchandiser may head up a team, providing the creative direction, or function alone, managing all the aspects of creation and setup on his or her own.
Training to become a visual merchandiser often involves a combination of formal education and practical experience under the watchful eye of an established designer. As with many creative efforts, a merchandiser may choose to get a degree in interior design and secure credentials related to set design. Working under the direction of an established visual designer can often help the novice learn how to manage many of the small details connected to the creation and implementation of a new visual display.