With the bevy of products from which to choose today, consumers can sometimes seem overwhelmed with options. To combat this challenge, retailers say it’s important to not only present a clean, uncluttered environment that’s conducive to browsing, but to also arrange products in a fashion that facilitates easier decision making.
Following are five tips to help accomplish those objectives.
1. Apply the ’80/20′ rule
Pamela Danziger, principal/partner of the American Marketing Group, Lancaster, Pa., said 80% of a dealer’s business comes from 20% of its product selections. That’s why it’s important to avoid turning off the customer with a cluttered showroom.
“Retailers’ most common mistake is to overwhelm their customers with too much product,” she explained. “You could scare your customers away before they even get started, especially if there is no available staff to guide them when they walk in.”
2. Employ low sight lines
Your customers should be able to see throughout the entire store from any position in your showroom. Customers can very easily get overwhelmed if they feel trapped or lost while they wait for assistance.
“We don’t want to box in our customers behind towering product displays,” said Stephen Eckard, owner of Eckard’s Home Improvement, Saint Joseph, Mo. “We want them to be able to see where all of the product categories are within the showroom, and we want our staff to be able to quickly locate the customers who are waiting.”
Eckard also added that if customers are not ready to be helped, keeping your sales staff visible gives them the chance to ask questions when they are ready. “We want our team members to be visible but not intrusive on their experience,” he noted.
3. Greet customers accordingly
The entrance of your store should give customers time to adjust to their new environment. At the end of this zone, there should be a receptionist or greeter who can immediately get customers started if other staff members cannot immediately greet them.
“We have a receptionist who greets every customer once they walk through the door,” said Jason O’Krent, director of sales for O’Krent Floors, San Antonio, Texas. “They will find out if they are a new customer or a returning customer and obtain the overall details of what they need.”
Ronald Rogers, president of America’s Carpet Barn, Traverse, Mich., agreed, adding, “Greeting every customer who walks through the door no matter how busy we are is important. They know you have seen them enter, and you break that initial barrier by acknowledging them immediately.”
4. Utilize attention grabbers
Display the most unique products near the entrance to draw the customers’ attention and keep them distracted while they wait to be helped. “One of the first things customers will see is our color wall, which displays all of our color options side by side,” said John Dauenhauer, co-owner of Carpet World, Bismarck, N.D. “She will focus on it once she is given the freedom to browse because she will end up using our color wall during her shopping process.”
At O’Krent Floors, the front of the store showcases articles and photos that have been published about the company so customers can learn more about the company while they shop. “All five generations are pictured so customers will take the time to see where we started and where we are now while they wait,” O’Krent explained. “Plus, having these items on display gives our staff some great starter talking points to get the customer comfortable before the actual shopping begins.”
5. Create a welcoming environment
Offering customers beverages, snacks and entertainment helps them relax while they wait, experts say. Within these areas, the furniture should be made with soft and comforting materials to counterbalance the hard, cold flooring products.
“We have an inviting and comfortable area that always has fresh water, soda, coffee and other goodies,” Eckard explained. “We are developing an experience, because the most remembered stores are the ones who made them feel at home.”
O’Krent Floors, which provides a rest area within each product category on the showroom floor to give customers a private area to get comfortable while they wait for help or begin to browse, also embraces this strategy. “We want each customer to feel like they are our No. 1 priority, even if we can’t help them right away,” O’Krent said. “We want her to find a place where she can take off her coat, put her purse down and just get comfortable.”