Show the Samples!
It all starts with samples: In one way or another—in the showroom or in the customer’s home—window coverings dealers have to show product samples to illustrate differences in materials, product benefits, the range of colors and styles, and how the treatment works.
This month some tips on showing product.
FIRST POINT OF CONTACT
Kensington Window Expressions
Sampling is extremely important to the merchandising of most window coverings products. Sampling is usually the first point of contact between the end consumer and the product; the sample vehicle creates a first impression that is critical to the sale. A successful sample vehicle tells a compelling story about the product, pinpoints who would purchase the product and illustrates why the product is a perfect fit for the application. Keeping all product sampling up-to-date, complete and in good working order is always a wise business investment for window coverings professionals.
When producing product samples, Kensington Window Expressions considers the needs of the dealer first and foremost. Since the dealer is the primary individual using the sampling in the marketplace, the sample vehicle should be of a convenient size and weight for ease of use, in addition to presenting large product swatches and clear, concise product details. Beautiful room-setting photography and graphics are key components that complete the product story, and the Kensington marketing team is expert at combining all of these elements into an affordably priced presentation.
The lifespan of a sample vehicle is usually two to three years. During the lifespan of the sampling vehicle line extensions, such as new fabrics or hardware systems, may be added as separate updates until the program re-launches again. A full sample vehicle re-launch usually incorporates these line extensions, as well as any other new and exciting developments, into a new presentation that refreshes and reenergizes the product line.
MERCHANDISING MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER
Vice President of Corporate Merchandising
Sample books and effective in-store merchandising are the most critically important marketing tools you have to insure success in today’s window covering market. Consider the following statistic: 50 percent of the consumers who purchased a custom window covering this year claimed they last purchased a window covering five years ago. Consumers actually purchase an automobile on a more frequent cycle then window coverings! To compound the issue, step back and think of how many new products Hunter Douglas has launched over the last five years! It is a simple fact of life: people cannot purchase what they don’t know exists! Displays and sampling are critical to increasing consumer awareness in a product category that is so infrequently shopped.
In a soft economy, one can argue that effective point-of-sale merchandising is more important then ever because all companies/products are competing for the shrinking disposable dollars consumers will be willing to spend in 2008. We can learn a lot by looking at other successful businesses.
Look no further then your local Best Buy or Circuit City. They, too, are selling products that cost the consumer $1,000-plus. To start with, their plasma TV sets are turned on. Are the window coverings in your store turned on? By that I mean are the display products illuminated from the back? How would a consumer know or understand how a window covering will perform in their home if the display blind hangs on a piece of wallboard?
Secondly, their TV sets are displayed in their true size. They don’t show the consumer an 18-inch screen and say, “Imagine what that would look like in a 52-inch size.” Consumers often see window coverings displays that are 18 inches wide. That small size actually distorts the scale of the product.
Third, electronic retailers always put major emphasis and exposure on their newest offerings. The latest and greatest always generates more consumer attention and sales. Look at your displays. If your sample blinds have a standard operating system, you are missing a huge opportunity. Every consumer knows that a blind will rise when the lift cord is pulled. Displays with LiteRise®, UtlraGlide® and PowerRise® operating systems will command more attention and drive more sales and profits.
All of the issues mentioned above also need to be addressed by those who sell in-home.
We have a unique business model: we sell custom-made products. The only investment a retailer has to participate in this business is their samples and displays. That investment is typically recovered in the first few sales. Now is the time to re-evaluate your merchandising strategy and make the necessary adjustments.