Designing the right window environment can sometimes be overwhelming and confusing. To help simplify the process, Hunter Douglas offers a store planning program called Opportunities in Space 2 (OIS2), which is the second generation of the successful OIS series introduced three years ago. OIS2 is a comprehensive and thought-provoking program that includes all the various Hunter Douglas displays, signage and point-of-purchase (POP) materials. It also offers ideas, suggestions and logic on lighting, floor plans and store planning overall.
The driving force behind Opportunities in Space 2 is to help you create an effective and profitable window coverings environment that excites customers, ignites their imaginations and projects a sense of style. When customers walk into your store, they should feel as if they are walking into an environment that appeals to their lifestyle and inspires their decorating plans. The quality of your merchandise is evident when properly displayed.
So how do you effectively merchandise your store? Decorative and practical displays are not enough. They must coordinate with the overall physical climate through your wall and floor coverings, color scheme, lighting and signage to convey the image you want to project.
And don't forget where your customer is coming from—the outside. What you put in your front window should also reflect the image found inside your store, and at the same time be as attention-getting as you can make it. This is your first (and possibly last) chance to stop passersby, draw them in and turn them into customers. Your lighting, color, props—everything customers see when they're outside looking in—should send a clear message that you care about your business and that anyone who enters will feel confident that they made the right choice just by walking in.
THE CONCEPT OF STORE PLANNING
Even if you feel that your store's environment is satisfactory, remember that the marketplace and the consumer are constantly changing. Competition grows daily. For your business to survive, the personality of your store must also evolve. Carefully planning the layout of your store or updating your look by remodeling can serve as a powerful marketing tool that regenerates interest and increases sales.
Consider color. Over 80 percent of visual communication is conveyed through color. Therefore, the colors you choose for your store should work effectively with your displays and coordinate with your lighting to draw your customers' attention to the merchandise.
You can also use color to remodel—without rebuilding. For example, light colors can create a sense of space in a small area. And dark colors can make a large, over-sized store seem more intimate and inviting.
The layout of your store is critical. Consider the overall traffic flow, and then plan your product grouping and display placement accordingly. Be sure to allow enough space for customers to stop, look and operate the window fashions on display.
OIS2 includes the new Store Planning Guide and Workbook, which provides the many solutions available to you—display modules, decorative headers, indoor and outdoor signage, as well as tips on lighting and various floor plan ideas. The guide contains store planning tools, such as graph paper and a template to properly lay out the entire store, allowing you to easily plan, design and create as many floor plans as necessary to achieve your desired look. The guide also comes in an electronic format via CD-ROM. With the click of a mouse, you can view all workbook contents and design a first-class selling environment, even faster.
DISPLAY YOUR BEST SIDE
Once you've decided on the best layout for your store, turn your attention to displays. A good display should show off the intrinsic qualities of your merchandise, while providing the best product presentation and visual appearance to make it easy for customers to find what they're looking for.
There are several components involved in making the most of your displays. Use lighting to create a realistic atmosphere to best complement the products. Change products regularly, and periodically rearrange modules to prevent your store from becoming stale and to keep customers interested. Vary flooring material to create different moods and/or different departments. Finally, make sure that your walking displays—the salespeople—have the personality and appearance that reflect the image you want to convey.
LET THERE BE LIGHT
Lighting is an essential and integral part of your visual presentation and store design. It serves three basic functions: to provide proper illumination throughout the store, to highlight featured products accurately and to create atmosphere.
Be sure that customers can examine the merchandise under a light that brings out its best features. While the right lighting can make the most common merchandise appear more attractive, poor lighting will make even the best window fashions look dull.
To highlight the colors, pattern and textures found in window fashions, use incandescent directional lights with low-intensity overhead lighting. For overall room lighting, cool white fluorescent lamps will create a neutral environment that flatters customers, employees and the store décor. In this light, colors will appear bright, clear and natural. Beware of too-bright overhead lights that can distract a shopper's attention with unwanted reflections off glass or chrome fixtures.
Window fashions must be backlit to be appreciated. Hunter Douglas offers backlighting options to showcase the product as it would appear in an actual window.
SIGNS OF THE TIMES
In-store signs do more than just brighten your store. They're silent salespeople, visual reminders of the merchandise you carry. Hunter Douglas offers a full selection of high-impact, attention-getting interior signage to augment your sales effort and complement your attractive merchandising displays.
Beautiful, four-color, two-sided interior banners printed on long- lasting 24- by 32-inch fabric let you highlight an individual product or sale—or showcase the entire line. And banners are one of the least expensive ways to add color, variety and dimension to your store.
Effective store planning is more important than ever before as you continue to compete not only with each other, but also for the attention of increasingly knowledgeable and demanding consumers who have many choices on how and where to spend their disposable income. When you combine innovative store design with a well-trained sales staff and effective product presentation, you will generate a store image that makes the customers who shop in your store feel as though they have made the right decision in doing business there.
Maureen Marrone is Manager - Visual Merchandising for Hunter Douglas Window Fashions, based in Upper Saddle River, N.J. Ten tips for successful store planning *
1.Maintain a clean, uncluttered display and showroom. Clutter projects the wrong image.
2.Separate departments. Use wall color and signage to make it clear where one department ends and another begins.
3.Lighting. Properly lit displays are critical to drawing attention and projecting a positive image.
4.Technology. Use it to educate, demonstrate and entertain.
5.Signage. Ties products to brand name. Four-color photographs help identify products and appeal to consumers' emotions.
6.Displays should tell a story. Style, color, safety features, light control options and motorization should be instantly conveyed.
7.Show large product samples. They draw attention and are more realistic and interactive.
8.Variety. Consumers like having choices. But lots of small samples create clutter and confusion. Devote the necessary space to display products.
9.Keep it fresh. Consumers expect to see new products.
10.Show it respect, or don't show it at all. Consumers measure the quality of products by how they are merchandised.
* From "A Store Planning Guide and Workbook" from Hunter Douglas