Creating a showroom space that’s both eye-catching and functional is an art form—and perhaps a science as well. Coming up with just the right combination of merchandising displays, installed flooring, product placement, lighting and even open space can be a challenge, especially for floor covering dealers with limited showroom space. But with a little creativity—and a lot of planning and experimentation—any store owner can turn a typical retail space into a destination.
FCNews spoke with several retailers to get their tips on effective merchandising and showroom presentation strategies.
Great Western Flooring
Right at home. Customers must walk through nearly half of Great Western Flooring’s showroom before reaching product displays and other merchandise. The entrance mimics an actual home with a living room vignette, a kitchen vignette, a desk area and white space so customers feel more comfortable.
“We don’t want to smack people in the face with products right when they walk in,” said Dana Park, head of sales and design. “We want customers to feel at home while they shop because we recognize this is a purchase people only make a few times in their life.”
Arizona Hardwood Floor Supply
Bring the outside in. The sprawling showroom at Arizona Hardwood Floor Supply (seen above and left) literally brings nature inside. The merchandising concept revolves around a large, artificial tree with an accompanying wood bench, custom wall paneling and murals to promote their specialty—hardwood flooring.
“It is the focal point of our showroom, and it sets the tone for what we do,” said Tim Hosea, marketing manager. “Customers say they can breathe in here and the layout is inviting because there isn’t too much clutter.”
The custom paneling on the tree is also used as an accent in the seating areas to subtly encourage customers to first browse and then take a seat to comfortably shop and peruse samples.
Abbey Carpet & Floor
Clean, clear, simple. Savvy dealers know you only get one shot to make a first impression. This fundamental tenet has taken on added significance in today’s retail environment given the shift in consumer behaviors that shows buyers in the Internet Age tend to shop fewer stores in person before making their final purchasing decision. To that end, the key to making a memorable impact on the consumer while simplifying the selection process for the consumer, experts say, lies in fostering an experience that’s conducive to stress-free shopping.
The folks at Abbey Carpet & Floor have figured this out, as evidenced by the impressive design and layout of its flagship store in Naples, Fla. The buying group has succeeded in helping members raise their merchandising game through eliminating clutter, incorporating low sight lines and generally creating a welcoming environment for the consumer.
“The whole concept is to create an atmosphere that the consumer feels comfortable shopping in,” said David Hardy, executive vice president of merchandising and member services. “Just go into a carpet store and you look at how they show hard surfaces—it’s a mess. I don’t even know how Mrs. Consumer can figure out what she wants. We eliminate all that.”
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Keep it interesting. The Waterloo location—the third in Sarmazian Brothers’ lineup—is a massive, 35,000-square-foot facility built from the ground up. Locally known as “Silicon Valley North,” it is situated in an area that has attracted investment from high-profile tech companies such as Google and Research in Motion. It is also positioned directly across the street from the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market, a major tourist attraction that draws people in droves from places near and far. The region is also home to two major universities, which has attracted a more educated and affluent demographic.
Against this backdrop, Sarmazian Bros. knew it had to make a memorable impression on customers when they first walk through the door. To that end, the first thing shoppers see when they enter the showroom are custom-made displays that showcase the latest design trends. The goal is to inspire customers prior to them entering the heart of the showroom floor.
“These units, which are on wheels, have facilitated sales because they show customers an entire room design using hard and soft flooring options,” said Raffi Sarmazian, general manager. “We constantly rotate the products, so customers are first greeted with the most up-to-date trends. I’ve personally seen customers gravitate toward these displays once they enter.”