Marketing Minute: Is your showroom crowding out your customers? - Feb 2020

By Paul Friederichsen

Less is more is a cliché popularized by minimalist architecture. The concept of this idea was to reduce the design components to only what was necessary and, in so doing, create an elegant and simple result. While less is more has been the butt of humorous marketing claims-for example, more is more-there is a certain beauty to this approach, whether it’s in architecture, graphic design or even store merchandising.

As specialty floorcovering dealers grapple with the growth of Amazon (and all other forms of online sales generated by big box retailers and category killers), they are urgently seeking ways to hold their ground. And if that’s not enough, they must also compete with the big boxes and category killers that have more square footage, more foot traffic, more room for displays, more variety and, it would seem, more chances for sales.

Just in the last couple of years, during what has been coined “The Retail Apocalypse,” there have been hundreds, if not thousands of articles on how to defend against the onslaught of the online shopping trend. The inclination by many dealers has been to pack more displays into the retail space to increase the variety that the shopper can browse. All of this has led to Carpet One actually mandating a reduction in the number of displays populating their showrooms. Too many displays and too little room to shop means the customer is getting crowded out. So how do crowded showrooms happen? And what’s the downside, anyway?

What we have today is akin to an arms’ race in flooring displays. Each year, every manufacturer ushers in its new styles, technologies, and, yes, displays. The manufacturer insists that the retailer take its new displays and often provides its sales rep and the retailer plenty of financial incentive to do so. It’s a war for points of distribution (POD) that each brand must wage. The more PODs, the greater the coverage and, inevitably, the greater the marketshare. POD success breeds brand success, with every display in its respective sales channel representing a vote of confidence back at brand headquarters. But brand success isn’t equivalent to retailer success.

In his book, The Iconist: The Art and Science of Standing Out, Jamie Mustard points out that too many choices lead to stress in consumers, resulting in anxiety, paralysis, dissatisfaction and self-blame. As he points out, “The New York Times published a fascinating article on social psychology studies across diverse personal decisions, from buying a car to choosing soap. In every instance it became obvious that the greater the number of choices we present to others, the less engaged they become over time.” Conclusion? Too many choices actually dilutes rather than reinforces the likelihood for the potential sale. The critical nature of customer engagement and relationship building cannot be overlooked by floorcovering retailers. It’s what gives them the edge over online and big box competition.

For a host of reasons, too many displays becomes problematic in the showroom environment for the floorcovering specialty retailer. Consider the sales journey: the customer has likely performed online research, followed by visits to a big box retailer. At every stop, the customer is gathering information, contrasting and comparing options-in most cases without the help of a knowledgeable flooring expert. When the customer arrives at your showroom, do you present a thoughtfully curated collection of flooring types, brands and styles from which to close a sale? Do you create a well-lit, inviting shopping space with room to move and breathe? Unless your retail brand concept is built strictly on no-frills variety and deep discounts, a packed showroom isn’t setting the stage for creating a memorable and pleasing customer experience in which to make a significant and emotionally considered purchase.

So, if an excessive number of displays (and the ensuant showroom clutter) isn’t the pathway to increased showroom sales success, what is? Here are three basics you need to consider before you start rearranging your space or switching out your lighting.

Rule #1: Know your customer base. In this way, you are building a retail brand that reflects your unique strengths but caters to your customers’ most desired style. Your store becomes a welcome change from the morass of confusion encountered along the way, as well as the welcome relief the customer was looking for. Reward them with an experience that invites sales.

Rule #2: Provide sales training. Nowadays, thanks to Google, we are all ‘expert’ online researchers. Your customer has likely already done their homework on the preferred flooring type and style for their room makeover-and researched you, for that matter. With the right training, sales associates must help problem-solve to be the trusted advisor your customers cannot find anywhere else. They may come in looking for X, but they should leave happier with Y.

Rule #3: Maintain brand marketing. Sun Tzu is famous for having said, “Every battle is won or lost before it is ever fought.” Likewise, your local marketing-whether it’s via your website, social media, advertising, sponsorships, or PR-can win every sale before the customer ever sets foot in your showroom simply by establishing a favorable expectation up front. You just need to follow through on that promise every time.

Copyright 2020 Floor Focus 

Related Topics:Carpet One