Managing Traffic Flow in Your Showroom
Working displays, a wide selection of product at varying price points, innovative lighting, an inviting atmosphere, and unique layouts that pique the customer’s curiosity are just a few of the things you need in your bag of tricks.
Let’s start at the front door. Do you put your highest-priced products at the door, or your bargain specials? Let’s consider this in greater detail.
Good, Better, Best vs. Best, Better, Good. I believe the best course of action is to show the most expensive display or products first! You’ll find out quickly if the customer thinks that this offering is too rich for her pocketbook. If it is, you’ll have the rest of the showroom to make the sale. It’s always easier to come down the price scale than to sell up it. This strategy also makes the customer realize that you are there to service her needs within her specific price range.
It’s variety and personalization that provide showrooms with sizzling appeal. Most showrooms emphasize variety but personalization, too, is key to a showroom’s success. In fact, personalization can be an important sales hook in your company’s stated philosophy: “A room by ABC Flooring is your room!” In other words, instead of being known for creating a limiting look to which the customer must conform, carry a variety of unique products that allow your staff to create special looks that uniquely meet individual customer needs.
Making the most of your displaysThe displays that best and most efficiently draw customers are window displays. These should be dramatically lit for effective evening drive-by exposure. People always notice such displays and, when they are in the market for your products, they’ll remember seeing your offerings when they drove past your showroom. Don’t be afraid to go “outside the envelope” to portray the product in an unusual vignette instead relying on the same ho-hum type of display. Leave reality for inside the showroom. The window display is your stage!
Flow. Plan the layout of your showroom to facilitate easy access for visitors. The majority of distributors and dealers favor U-shaped or circular setups because such formats allow for easy viewing of all product displays. They also entice the customer to peruse all of your displays, which allows him to see all that you have to offer before he makes a buying decision.
This gives you, the retailer, a maximum amount of time to zero-in on what he’s looking for! Carefully plan your display layout so there are few, if any, dead ends. The next display should be just visible around the corner of the previous one. Thus, the customer is pulled through the showroom by instinctive curiosity.
Use finesse to make the most of your presentationKeep things simple! This is key to winning the customer’s confidence. Similar products should be grouped together. Grouping products with similar characteristics is helpful in your efforts to eliminate customer confusion. Such groupings make it easy to describe a particular feature, and then point to a section of products that offers that feature.
The idea of grouping “like” products together is the theory behind the merchandising strategy of carrying only a few manufacturers’ product lines. Having too many different lines to show, and so many different stories to tell, can only confuse a customer and thereby undermine his confidence in terms of what to buy.
The most effective way to enhance your customer’s confidence in you and the purchase decision he’s formulating is to display products that people want to buy. Keep your finger on the hot buttons in design trends. When you hear the consumer exclaim, “That’s exactly what I want,” you know you’ve chosen the right products to showcase. The customer will be delighted that you’ve made the design process easy for him!
Use ALL of the space. Utilize offices and the reception area of your showroom to display products, too. With the increased popularity of home offices, using office and reception areas for their display potential affords you a subtle and very effective way to show what you can do in a variety of settings. For instance, one office can be set up to look — and function — like a media center. Don’t be afraid to plant ideas in your customer’s mind!
Live cooking displays and the smell of hot-out-of-the-oven cookies may be just the thing that puts the sizzle into your sales, especially if your customers come in over the lunch hour or after work. This strategy works to perfection for MidWest Express Airlines. Popcorn, although a little messier, works too.
Many people advocate a neat, uncluttered look for the displays in their showrooms. This philosophy extends to the elimination of literature, signs and other information from counters and other horizontal surfaces. This has been touted as the most successful selling approach when the merchandising strategy is to make the client feel like she’s standing in her own home.
If you choose this as your own strategy, nothing in the way of literature or signs should be left out in plain view. What’s more, all displays must be functionally correct. Customers notice if they aren’t!
In my next column, I’ll discuss some more selling techniques and tips, and relate them to a specific product type — resilient floors. See you then!