Because of the strong support given to dealers by product manufacturers, it would be a near impossibility to visit any specialty window coverings retailer with expectations of not seeing manufacturers' displays. Manufacturers have spent tremendous amounts of money creating displays, which they expect will assist the customer in making the decision to buy whether or not a salesperson is standing with the customer. With so many patterns, fabrics and shades, not to mention styles and features, the manufacturer wants the customer exposed to the various components of their goods and services in an effort to get the customer to place an order.
This is the good news, for there are few retail industries in which the manufacturers do such a quality job of creating point-of-purchase (POP) displays. With the efforts of manufacturers in the draperies and window coverings industry accomplishing so much of what is necessary, too often dealers depend solely on these manufacturers' displays. That's the bad news.
Visiting numerous dealers while researching this article, I frequently found sales floors that had become more a collection of manufacturers' displays than becoming a showroom for the goods and services offered.
Let's take a look at a baker's dozen of ideas that not only will increase your chances of completing the sale, but will enhance your ability to distinguish yourself from the competition.
DRAW CUSTOMERS INTO STORE
Let's first look at ideas one through four because they work together. The importance of the first one, having an attractive entrance, is illustrated by research stating that more than 50 percent of customers get their strongest perception of your business by the exterior appearance. Mother was right when she told us we only get one chance to make a first impression.
The second idea is to look at how merchandise is placed around your business. You want customers to immediately see the direction you want them to go as they enter your sales floor. The traffic flow you have created should take the customer through the store in a manner in which they are exposed to all of the product categories you carry (that's the third idea).
The fourth idea is to place your drawing card merchandise in the back of the store. Think about grocery stores; where do they place the milk, bread, eggs and meat? They are on exterior walls, far away from the front door. This layout ensures customers will see as much of the store as possible on their way to get there.
The next ideas also work together because we now are looking at how to maximize the displays you create and make the manufacturers' displays an important part of your efforts.
The sales floor needs not only to address the current season, but should tell customers about trends for the next season. Just visit a department store to see how winter coats are displayed in late summer. This plants a thought in the mind of customers so when they have a need for a coat they know where to shop.
The sixth idea is to suggest your store should appeal to as many of the five senses as possible. Recent research shows customers are more likely to spend money when the store smells good, has pleasant music as well as allows them to see and feel the products.
While manufacturers already have done a great job of colorizing their merchandise (the seventh idea), it is important you do the same with related ideas near each other (the eighth idea), and having displays of add-on sale items (idea number nine). If you sell curtain rods and drapery hardware, they should be near the window treatment sample displays. After all, you should tell the customer a new window treatment deserves a new drapery rod.
One of the best jobs of this we have seen was in a business selling window coverings and carpeting. Next to a rack of carpet samples was a vacuum cleaner display and containers of carpet scent. The vacuum made for a great add-on sale, while the carpet scent makes an attractive impulse purchase (idea number 10).
While we are discussing floor displays, if a display has an unattractive side it should be placed against a wall or backed up to another display. Merchandise needs to be seen no matter which direction a customer approaches from (idea number 11).
Completing our display discussion, the most important space in your business is the area at eye level. Using walls to their maximum effectiveness, you should display high-dollar items at eye level (the 12th idea), and if you sell accessories to the whole goods you are selling, the whole goods should occupy the eye-level space (idea number 13).
While we promised you a baker's dozen of ideas, there is one more. This is done intentionally, because just like in your dealings with customers you should give them more than what is expected. Idea number 14 deals with signs. Signs have been shown to substantially increase sales. Today you can easily create signs with several computer software programs to introduce new products, explain features and benefits, as well as tell your customers of the services you offer.
Today's customer has the advantage of being able to shop through a catalog, the Internet, a home service or in your store. When they do come to your store, make sure your store gives customers many reasons to do business with you and to return.
Tom Shay is president of Profits+Plus Seminars, St. Petersburg, FL; (727) 898-7205; e-mail: TomShay@profitsplus.org; www.profits plus.org. Looks Count
Ideas for making your store attractive to customers and ready for increased business.
1. Present an attractive entrance.
2. Place merchandise to direct customers through store.
3. Traffic flow should expose customers to all product categories.
4. Place drawing card merchandise in the back.
5. Displays should suggest next season's trends.
6. Appeal to the five senses.
7. Colorize merchandise.
8. Place related items near each other.
9. Display add-on sales items.
10. Include impulse purchase items.
11. Display merchandise to be seen from any direction a customer approaches.
12. Display high-dollar merchandise at eye level.
13. Whole good items should be presented at eye level with accessories in subordinate positions.
Bonus: Make use of in-store signs.
Make sure your store gives customers many reasons to do business with you and to return.