“If someone comes to us with no lighting background and not knowing an A lamp from a PAR lamp, that’s ok. That can be taught, but you can’t teach [innate selling ability]. What counts is passion and dedication about whatever they’ve done before – whether they have been in real estate or jewelry – and whether they were successful,” Lebersfeld states. “If they come to us from another area of interior design with a book of designers who follow them, of course, that’s fantastic.” At Capitol Lighting, the goal isn’t to seal the deal as much as it is to make the buying experience so pleasant that it leads to referrals.
In today’s competitive retail environment, even having the best salespeople isn’t enough. Recognizing how consumers’ shopping habits have changed over the past decade is vital. Years ago, customers would browse inside several nearby stores before making a decision; now they cruise the Internet first. The Lebersfelds noticed this trend and were proactive, starting up 1-800-LIGHTING.com in 1996. “We operate it like a separate store,” Eric Lebersfeld comments, adding, “We’ve fully committed to running it as an e-commerce business.”
Each of the Capitol Lighting stores shares the same master database of product images, pricing, specifications, and details found on 1-800-LIGHTING.com, which also helps create consistency in branding.
Always eager to explore new techniques in retailing, last year the Lebersfelds tried an experiment in its Stuart, Fla. location which has less square footage than the other Capitol Lighting stores (5,000 square feet vs. the typical 16,000 square feet). Instead of cramming more fixtures in less space, the Stuart showroom has a less-cluttered appearance thanks to several large computer monitors at workstations where retail sales associates can sit down with customers to sort through the thousands of options (sizes, finishes, etc.) available through the shared 1-800-LIGHTING.com database. Continue Reading