• Creative Living London

Show off your showroom

By Michaela Mir

As retailers and merchants look to promote their new summer ranges, this week we thought we’d suggest some top tips to help bathroom retailers looking to stand out from the crowd.

Bathroom retailers come in all shapes and sizes, from high-end businesses like CP Hart, to builders’ merchants looking to reach a new customer base by including bathroom sets in what was previously a typical builders’ merchant trade counter.

Other plumbing merchants go a stage further, opening separate showrooms and creating new luxury brands that operate almost as separate businesses.

Trade and merchant businesses have a particularly difficult job to do, as they look to attract new customers while taking care not to alienate their traditional customer base.

To do that, businesses need to truly understand their customer profiles, and know how to make them all feel comfortable inside the store. For example, a tradesperson in their work gear looking for some quick spares and supplies are going to want a different kind of store layout to a couple or family looking to browse for ideas.

Once you’ve decided who you’re catering for, creating the right feel starts outside the branch, with the branding on the windows and the look of the exterior. Wherever possible, create an entrance directly into the showroom area, so that consumers don’t need to walk through the main trade counter, or through external racking full of bricks and timber.

If you’re looking to sell high-end product in the branch, then the outside must have the look of a quality bathroom showroom, with luxury images on the windows, or lifestyle displays that are visible from the outside.

Roomsets like this one of Ideal Standard's Concept Cube range can help to boost sales

In terms of the layout, the most important thing to consider is the type of purchase your customers will be making, so you can set up the flow accordingly. Once inside, it should be very clear to customers where they need to go, and that means simply signage and clearly defined product areas.

If the showroom offers design services, then these should be easy to find, and branch staff must be on hand to help wherever needed. It’s the same principle as the flow inside a supermarket – most people know, when they go into a Tesco or Sainsbury’s – where to look for the fresh food, or tins, or household goods, because they frequently shop in those stores.

Bathrooms and kitchens are products that homeowners might shop for just two or three times in their whole lives, however, and so those businesses cannot rely on the same understanding.

This applies to the products themselves, which often have technical terminology that may not mean much to customers. Product signage needs to be clear, concise and easy to understand, while also offering the more technical information that the more knowledgeable tradespeople may need. This is where knowledgeable staff come into their own, as they’ll need to be able to talk both technically and in laymen’s terms.

It’s important to group products in terms of budgets, to differentiate the price points for whatever the customer can afford. Don’t put expensive basins with budget taps, and make it obvious which of your room sets are high end, and which are value. This is where styling and visual merchandising truly comes into its own.

CP Hart's high end products can add a luxury touch to any bathroom

The most important thing to remember is that people want to see the products for themselves before purchasing.

So, while you may have literature on 30 different types of bath or kitchen unit, the ones that will sell best are always those which are on display. It is also important, if you’re aiming for a luxury feel, to reflect the wider style trends that people are seeing on television and in home design magazines.

Don’t forget about the swing area – the first product sets of bathrooms or kitchens that customers see when they come into the branch. These should be updated on a more regular basis than the rest, and should always reflect the most current trends, to help convey that your business is right up to date, even if the rest of the store isn’t changed as often.

Creative Living London offers a retail design and visual merchandising consultancy service to help retailers and merchants of all types make the most of their space, maximise sales and boost margins. For more information, contact us today!

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