By Megan Salzano
Ceramic tile is by far one of the most design savvy, alluring categories in the industry. It is a tried-and-true material that has outlasted the ages. And, it boasts top selling features that draw consumers across age groups. Yet, some retailers struggle with the sale. Often the challenge is laid at the feet of industry shortcomings such as labor and product costs; however, there’s a much simpler explanation that once remedied could potentially boost the sales potential for flooring dealers big and small: in-store merchandising.
Seeing is believing
A heavily overlooked element critical to a successful tile sale is its presentation within the store. From eye-catching displays to full vignette-style installations, the way tile is presented to the consumer is invaluable.
“The specialty retailer’s effective presentation of a large selection of tile products from which to choose, coupled with an easy shopping experience, is critical to meeting customers’ needs and making the sale,” said Amber Leigh Martinson, director of marketing, Dal-Tile Corp. “Installed tile improves the in-store experience by helping the consumer visualize how their chosen product sample will come alive when installed in their home. In-store tile installations also delineate the section of the showroom devoted to tile. This helps put the consumer in the headspace of reviewing and selecting tile.
“Successful retailers also invest in keeping their showrooms updated with merchandising that reflects today’s styling. The most important way in which retailers can up their tile game is by partnering with brands that provide outstanding merchandising, and to keep their in-store displays up to date with the latest products launched by the brands.”
Pulling it off
It might seem like implementing a tile vignette or adding newer, design-focused displays would be something much easier for a large-scale retailer to undertake, but with some savvy techniques, even smaller retailers can tackle the task.
“The average person cannot visualize what a single tile will look like in their project,” said Emily Holle, creative director, MSI. “Having mini vignettes, room scene photography and grouted boards helps them envision the tile in their home. Because tile is such a permanent material, being able to touch and feel, get inspired and understand the final project right before your eyes means consumers are more likely to buy because they feel confident in their decision.”
To start, Holle suggested retailers group like colors and materials together, add room scenes and utilize paint. “Don’t underestimate the power of paint,” she said. “Color can evoke emotion/style and is easily swapped out when used as an accent.”
Taking it a step further, retailers can turn to display boards for an added pop. “Large grouted boards with a vanity cabinet and mirror sitting in front of them inspire the customer to think outside the box with design concepts,” Holle said.
When it’s time to punch it up even further, retailers can utilize vignette-style merchandising. But remember, it doesn’t have to mean dedicating a lot space to the category. “Consider having a trend wall up near the front of your store that updates quarterly—it will keep customers coming back to see what’s new,” Holle explained. “Find a theme and stick with it for the quarter. Do not try to overdo it with 20 new items.”
When upping the ante with these designs, it’s important not to over do it. “Large kitchen and bath installations can be costly and can get discontinued over time,” Holle said. “Updating these can become a retail nightmare.”
Dal-Tile’s Martinson agreed that avoiding easily outmoded materials is essential. “Go with a unique, inspirational and timeless installation that won’t quickly become dated,” she said. “A gorgeous installation that has staying power might include mixed materials such as glamorous wood- and marble-look tiles.”