Denis Caldora, merchandising and sales expert, explains how to quickly maximize your presentation and increase your bottom line.
1. Make categories.
A common problem I see in showrooms is that it’s hard for customers to get a sense of style when there are so many products that look alike all gathered in one place. Narrow the choices down to 3 categories: Contemporary, Classic, and Traditional.
Let’s say your outdoor lighting section has 8 slat-wall panels in a row. In order to re-do this section, take all of the fixtures off the panels and lay them on the floor. Since you only need 3 or 4 families to tell a style story, go through the selection you have and hand-pick your strongest looks for each category. Next, we’re going to create storyboards for those 3 looks and the rest of the merchandise (or the best of the rest) will be displayed on adjacent panels.
2. Tell a story.
We want to give customers a visual so they can see a style and instantly identify whether it captures their home’s exterior or not. Basically we’re going to cover the typical 4 x 8 slat-wall display that your lanterns are hanging on with a piece of 3.5 x 6.5 particleboard or fiberboard (you can buy either of those at a home center).
First, make a template of the slat-wall panel and indicate where the slats are to easily arrange the wiring. You can use this template to make panels for the other categories.
Cover the board with paint, stucco, siding, or fabric in whatever finish suits the type of home you are featuring. Ideally you want to fit 6 to 9 fixtures in 3 styles on this storyboard. Leave room for a photo of a home exterior in this style to reinforce the message. You can easily get photos of homes from the major paint company brochures and real estate catalogs around town. Adapt the colors you see in the paint company palettes to accent your displays and make them current. This way, you are using the same colors that people have in their homes.
I call this technique mannequining the door! With this storyboard overlaying the slatwall, we are making a mannequin of sorts that showcases a particular look just like a mannequin features a certain outfit in a clothing store.
Now, screw the storyboard onto the slatwall panel. This way, it’s easy for you to change out the looks throughout the year without altering your core slat-wall display panel or the wiring connections.
With your storyboard as the center panel featuring the most attractive fixtures in that style, have the slatwall panels to the left and right of the storyboard contain complementary fixtures.
If you like, you can create a “visual break” by hanging a banner between each 3-board style section to further reinforce the specific looks to the customer.
Overall, with this technique, your outdoor fixture selection will be thinned out and not look as cluttered to the homeowner. If you want to carry the look further, consider putting a small section of “flooring” in front of each panel that complements each style (i.e. brick, cement slab, wood deck).
3. Put landscape fixtures outside.
If possible, use the outside of your store to demonstrate your landscape lighting selection. This way, when people drive by at night when your store is closed, they’ll be able to see how good landscape lighting can look and be enticed to come in for ideas.
4. Hold a seasonal promotion.
There are two fantastic opportunities to time an outdoor lighting promotion: the first is in the spring when homeowners are anticipating spending more time outside; the second is in the fall when Daylight Saving Time ends and the clocks are turned back.
In the next month or two, consider launching an incentive that highlights casual outdoor entertaining. Rising gas prices always leads to more consumers taking staycations instead of traveling – and this year promises to be no different. Create a vignette at the front of the store that romances the notion of outdoor entertaining in summer. Bring out a fully set picnic table complete with tabletop lanterns, patio umbrellas with lights, or other decorative accessories. On both sides of your outside entrance, place some oversized ceramic planters with greenery to inspire customers.
Why not get your customers in a summer mindset by having an ice cream cart on-hand during the afternoons in the outdoor lighting section, stocked with either ice cream sandwiches or gelati. I did that in my own lighting showroom years ago and it was a big hit.
Bring out accessories and ancillary products that can complement the exterior of a home, such as house numbers, letters for entry gates, doormats, doorbells and knockers, plus mailboxes. Romance the outdoor lighting section with weatherproof statues, chimineas, or a stainless steel barbecue.