Coverings 2014 Conference Program: Maximizing Your Retail Space for Stronger Sales and Customer Engagement

Floor Store Entry 
Our Coverings 2014 Speaker Blog Series continues with a guest post from Nicole Leinbach-Reyhle, the Founder/Publisher/Editor of Retail Minded, a magazine dedicated to supporting independent retailers.

Owning a retail, wholesale, manufacturing or any type of business for that matter is exhausting work. There are countless hats to wear among your never-ending list of responsibilities, however very rarely do business owners put on the “hat of consumers.” Ironically, this is the hat that should be worn most often.
As a business owner, it’s vital to keep in mind what customers are thinking and how they react to your business – including your store or showroom environment – in order to better support them. Among the reasons this matters includes in-store experience, product engagement, customer satisfaction and the one that truly matters the most… sales. To help do this, you should consider the following when it comes to how you support your customers within your business space.
Merchandising for Customers & Sales Success
By definition, merchandising is a visual practice that is intended to attract customer attention. In reality, merchandising is a time intensive responsibility that can either help to increase or distract from making sales. Your goal, of course, is to master what merchandising tips and tricks matter most to your unique customer and then ultimately implement them into your ongoing merchandising routines. The challenge is “how do you do this”?
To start, consider the signage within your store, the check-out area of your store and the “white space” within your store environment. How can you strengthen each of these areas to better support your current inventory, store news and overall customer experience? Some tips include the following:

Use store signage throughout your entire space to communicate store hours, special promotions, upcoming events and product details. Since you can’t verbally tell every customer what they need to know about your store or inventory, signage can help you do this. Don’t be afraid of repeating key messages through signage, as well, such as an upcoming event or your return policy. Additionally, take the time to secure your signage in frames or retail displays rather than taping them to anything… ever. This is a major no-no and turns customers off. The message they get from this is “I don’t take the time to do things right” which translates to “I take short cuts” which translates to “I may not be the right store for you to buy from”.
Recognize the variety of customers you have and identify how you can best support each of them. For example, if you cater to homeowners, contractors and interior designers, how can you better communicate your store news and inventory updates to each of them? Take the time to identify unique messages for each of your unique customers. This will absolutely mean investing more time into your store displays, signage and overall communication, but the reward in sales will be well worth it.
Accept that “white space” can be a good thing… but don’t “waste space” either. In other words, it’s okay to merchandise your store with some airiness, but you don’t want to neglect key merchandising opportunities. This may include where customers are checking out – aka reaching for their wallets. What else can you merchandise in this area to increase your sales? Adding impulse buys or must have items to this area is a great place to start. Over time, you will recognize what sells more and what sells less in this particular area of your store. React to this! Tracking inventory sell through will always help you. Another wasted opportunity might be ignoring the shelve space of a sold out item. Don’t ignore this even for a few days while you are waiting for new inventory to arrive. It’s wasted space, plain and simple.

There are literally hundreds of ways to maximize your in-store space and ultimately your sales, but it all begins with standing in the shoes of your customers. Navigate your store as if you are doing so for the first time. Challenge others to do the same. What could help you enjoy this experience more? How could you increase your chance of more sales? What can you do to strengthen your displays? While this just may be one more hat to wear and yet another thing to add to your to-do-list, it’s something that shouldn’t be ignored.

Nicole will present the Featured Session, “Maximizing Your Retail Space for Stronger Sales and Customer Engagement,” on Thursday, May 1 from 2:45 PM to 3:45 PM at the Las Vegas Convention Center during Coverings 2014. Click here for more information on Nicole’s session and to view the full list of Coverings 2014 conference sessions. Don’t miss this session – register now for free to attend!