Updated: Feb 8
If there’s any time to invest in your showroom, it’s now. Retail has to adapt to a world where people will be spaced out, spaces have to be cleaned and sanitized regularly, and shoppers want to make quick, informed buying decisions. It will be a while until people go back to leisurely browsing, so you want to be sure your showroom is optimized for sales through organized merchandise and a strategic floor plan.
When they’re choosing where to shop, what will influence their decision to select a showroom over another? We believe that shoppers will choose showrooms based on how safe they feel in the space but will also want to get in and out quickly. If they come into the physical store, chances are they’re committed to buying. It is critical that merchandise is organized strategically, and clutter is minimized so clients can find exactly what they’re looking for and make their purchases in a timely manner.
Why a strategic floor plan is so important
A showroom’s layout is one of its top selling tools. When done right, customers know exactly where to go and don’t miss a single product. When done wrong, it makes the showroom experience confusing- no one likes to backtrack around a store searching for that faucet they loved. The last thing you want in the coming months are customers wandering around, bumping into each other or into staff or interacting with products that need sanitizing. Now is the time to control where people go to keep things safe for everyone.
With a proper layout, there will be a flow through the showroom. Flow is about helping clients to transition from space to space, helping them process their experience as they move through the showroom. This allows clients to efficiently analyze, process and make decisions. These days, it’s one of your best tools to keep the showroom organized and comfortable.
Here’s an exercise: starting at the main entrance, walk through your showroom. If a possible, bring someone unfamiliar with the space to give you a fresh perspective. As you walk through, note where the path is taking you. Are displays in the right places? Are there obstacles like accessory towers blocking the aisles or dead ends? Break out the measuring tape and measure the aisles- aisles of 60” or more are recommended for optimal client comfort, especially in days of social distancing.
Whatever you notice, know that there are ways to improve the flow. Sometimes it’s as simple as moving a few displays around; in other cases, you may decide it’s time to implement a brand-new layout strategy. Either way, your floor plan should be your focus moving forward.
Check Your Displays
The next step on your walk-through is to look very carefully at every single one of your display fixtures, old, new and in-between. You’re checking for damage, of course, but what you really want to focus on is consistency. A showroom full of displays in different colors, finishes and styles is a sure-fire way to ruin the customer experience. It creates confusion, discomfort and overwhelms the shopper. Mismatched displays can create such a strong impression that client’s may even leave before giving the showroom a chance.
Mismatched displays don’t do showroom owners any favors. They disrupt branding, make it harder for employees to sell and contribute to disorganization, causing showroom owners to lose control of effective showroom selling practices. As showrooms shift to a new normal, beautiful displays can turn the showroom into a kitchen and bath fixture gallery, where products are showcased to their best advantage. People may not be able to touch, but good displays turn products into eye-candy shoppers won’t be able to resist.
For now, we expect browsing to be limited for safety reasons, meaning showrooms will be booking appointments to clean between visits. In well-organized and laid-out showrooms, it will be possible to book multiple appointments at a time by keeping staff and clients safe in different areas of the showroom. In this new way of shopping, there is still a chance to let clients try the products (faucets, for example), by sanitizing in between. In these quieter days, take the time to assess your showroom. Do a walk through looking at the specific areas and features addressed above.