Shop your favorite stores. Shop stores that require a more involved sales and purchase process such as mattresses, computers or home appliances. You'll see that each company's brand gives you a different store experience.
Make sure to visit an Apple store. They are among the best-of-breed right now.
Why? The store experience completely delivers on the brand promise with attention-stopping store windows and pleasing colors; in-store displays that are easy to see from the front door; expert, knowledgeable, available help; clear product descriptions; well-displayed products that are easy to try; efficient payment; and post-sale contact and offers. Plus, they shine and delight customers and visitors.
But, you say, Apple has neat little boxes to merchandise on tables, not odd-sized HME equipment. No excuses. You can be best-of-breed for HME in your community. It's time to freshen up and write your own in-store experience playbook.
If you are in retail or expanding, you will face more and more competitors as they have visions of a boomer sales bonanza. But you are the expert in the HME market. Your in-store merchandising should reflect that. Why, again? Because 70 percent of brand/item decisions are made in the store.
So when was the last time you changed or modified your showroom or retail location? Does your visual merchandising and shopping experience match what you tout about your brand? If it's been more than five years since you have touched your layout, it's time to get started.
Watch customers with your existing layout. Then define a master store layout plan that incorporates:
- Breathing room when customers enter the store. They need several feet to "adjust" to the store impact and complexity of HME products.
- Creative, fun, feature displays or endcaps for special promotions, contests or new products.
- A move of low-margin, frequently purchased items such as incontinence products to the back of the store.
Minimize costly merchandising and product mix errors.
- Take advantage of manufacturers' planograms and product movement information (but remember it must mesh with your master layout).
- Leverage knowledge of similar HME stores in non-competing areas.
- Measure specific product and category movement and profit performance. Continuously monitor your ROI to streamline and change out products.
Establish a calendar of promotions and activities that are featured in-store with signs, displays, balloons and unusual creative themes such as charity efforts, golf, bingo, cards, vacations and more. Reflect the life of your customers and what they want to do with the help of your products.
Perk up with new paint, flooring, decor, signs, wall pictures and displays. You'll be amazed by the response you get just to a new color on one wall.
- Get professional help from a local paint store free advisor, display expert and/or a retail store designer.
- Signs should be large, visible from anywhere in the store. If you serve a multi-lingual community, consider bilingual signs, store materials and staff fluent in different languages.
Store layouts no longer include towering gondolas or barricaded zones. Small bathroom, bedroom and family room displays demonstrate how products are used. It works. Add towels, flowers, bed linen, walls, glassware, etc. Think like a furniture store. Help customers visualize how their equipment will blend in a home environment.
Lighting is crucial. Accent lighting can make all the difference in the presentation of accessories or a new product. "Over-55" eyes need higher-level lighting. Visual merchandiser Phil Mitchell of Discovery Based Retail Store Design notes that "while 75 Fc (foot candle) is fine for general merchandise, upwards to 150 is recommended for maximum visibility."
Can't afford new fixtures? Mitchell recommends simply cleaning the ones you have. It makes a world of difference.