Some of my work over the years has been teaching and illustrating the principles of VMP Display as it applies to point of purchase. But more often than not, the smaller, independent retailer has to come up with practical ideas and "How to..." for their seasonal window and feature displays. This week’s feature article shows a very simple idea, that's going to take you from Fall into Christmas.
People who have worked with me used to ask me, "Where do you get all your ideas from?" I couldn't answer that question for years and people assumed it was just because I was "born" with an imagination. Part of that was true because I was raised in India where we had to be very resourceful and creative with what we had.
But I discovered the answer to that question in my studio working on a project, which I had never done before. I put ideas and possibilities on a sketch pad first for this custom POP unit. I purchased the materials and began. About a quarter of the way into the first attempt, I suddenly realized there was a much easier and better way to do it. I almost didn't put aside the first attempt because of the time I had already invested and because it felt like I would be 'wasting' materials.
However, I allowed those materials to be part of my 'learning curve' and began over and then it hit me. IDEAS START WHEN YOU DO! I remember saying to myself, "I have to let my audiences know that it's OK to give yourself permission to start over when a good idea comes along."
This was played out as I was doing some in-house corporate training for a group of reps and we had given them an assignment in the wholesale show room. We divided them into pairs and gave each of them an empty shelf, a store to role play they were merchandising, and a time or year, or theme. They had a limited time to do their display.
I watched along with my client and sure enough they ran quick to gather all the items from the showroom and based on my principles just taught, they began to build their displays. We watched as they would go a ways and then stop and make changes, and go a little more and go back and make some changes. When the call was made for them to STOP, some of them had their displays completed, but some had made so many changes that in the end they didn't have the shelf merchandised and some items hadn't found a 'home'.
I was given the task to evaluate each display and comment on how many of the methods and rules had been followed, and get feedback on each one from the others. When I came to the ones that weren't complete, I simply asked, "What happened?" And they said, "Well, we started to build this display and when we added this mug, we realized we could have a totally different theme if we just did this. And then when we began to do that we also thought you could do this with the Teddy Bear and you called time when we were half way through."
It was a good lesson and I then gave them one of my secrets! Because IDEAS START WHEN YOU DO, you may experience a sudden rush of so many ideas you will feel overwhelmed and confused. Stop. Go get a scratch pad and jot down all the ideas for future when you feel uninspired with limited time. But stick to your first idea and follow through.
The difference is that what I was doing in my studio was designing a prototype for a permanent fixture. What they were doing was creating a display that would be shopped and ready for change within a couple of days. When something is more temporary give it your best shot. Step back and keep going. Don't obsess and don't waste time. But keep the energy you got from coming up with so many ideas and feel the abundance of them for the future.
Humans are created with five natural senses (and some, like 'sixth' sense, or "nonsense" which we aren't discussing here!)
Non-Store shoppers browsing magazines, papers, catalogs or text and images on-line, are using ONE sense: SIGHT. It's the most important one for sure, and that is why everything Today's Displays does begins with VISUAL!
Non-Store shoppers listening to telephone soliciting are also only using ONE sense: SOUND.
TWO senses, both SIGHT and SOUND are used when watching TV, audio/visual ads on line, or even a non-interactive product presentation in a store or at a trade show exhibit.
As an Independent RETAILER, you have the chance to appeal to ALL FIVE senses. By adding a mood enhancing fragrance into your store, encouraging shoppers to touch and try on items appealing to them, and by offering beverages, or samples if you sell confectionery, baked goods, or gourmet products, brings the other THREE senses to SIGHT and SOUND.
The bank I frequent from time to time offers cookies and coffee or water to those standing in line. At that moment they are 'soothing the senses' which is what our featured article this week is all about.
If you sell beauty and health products, the fragrance you want is different than if you sell food items, or garments. Some seasons lend themselves to smells that are traditional and familiar, such as pine, or cinnamon at Christmas, with hot apple cider being offered to shoppers with ginger cookies.
As a sales rep for a company, I once called on an upholstery shop that was located between a salon and a fast food chicken place. When I walked in I immediately reacted to the smell of fried chicken and fries mixed with the small of perm solution. Because in their industry that was just their workshop and they did mostly shop at home to show their samples, they didn't feel the need to relocate!
Words of WARNING: Don't MIX fragrances, from air fresheners, or scented products. Be careful how many scented products you have open and watch for shoppers responses if it's too strong.
I once helped a client change up their store and by the time we had opened up three sets of candle tapers with strong scents we had to stop. Since the tapers were packaged in pairs, with the wicks joined, and we wanted to showcase then in beautiful candlesticks, we just wrapped the opened display candles in plastic wrap to reduce the strong competing smells.
By the way, you will sell on average 20% more of what you take out of the package and display! And you also reduce the temptation from shoppers to open the box to see what's inside!
Don't use strong smelling cleaners on your floors that smell like a medical clinic. Don't MIX sounds. If you sell music provide shoppers with headphones if you also have piped in pieces. If you provide a children's play area that's showing cartoons, don't have the volume competing with the music you are playing for adult shoppers.
Pay attention to creating the right mood by appealing to all the senses and enhance their shopping experience.
Check out all our products and resources for what they see! VMP is what you see!
We NEED good independent retailers AND bricks and mortar stores. Here’s why!
Years ago, before the turn of the century, I was commissioned to do a seminar for the retail dealer network of a Canadian distributer. As a seventy-five
year old business they had seen a lot of changes. The topic? “High Tech. High Touch.”
I researched and found out that with technology taking over and making people feel like nothing more than a number and having computers doing everything for them, this put a HUGE DEMAND on High Touch. What is high touch? High touch is what makes a person feel special, cared about, and valued. Personal Attention! It also means "touch" as in feel.
Who did the “retail prophets” say would be the best to offer this? Boutiques, specialty stores, and restaurants! That makes you, the Independent Retailer, in high demand. Let me quote a high profile expert and see what she had to say back then.
Faith Popcorn, in “The Popcorn Report” (1991 Double Day Pub.) gave a whole lot of predictions based on her research and market tests. I love to go back and read these after a quarter of a century and see if they were right. In my first seminar on this topic, I quoted her as saying, “Two kinds of going-out-to-shop experiences will remain”€
Specialty boutiques OR Huge emporiums. This is what she says about the Specialty Boutiques: “Specialty boutiques, selling such items as gourmet foods or household and personal products. These small, local, ‘edited’ markets offer personal service. What entices you to buy at these shops (rather than by screen) is also the personality and style of the owners. With so many aspects of shopping now automatic and perfunctory, what remains will have to provide shoppers with a joyful, satisfying experience on an individual basis.”
She concludes that chapter with two more comments:
- “Shopping is an activity we’ll plan on doing two or three times a month, as an alternative to the movies or sporting events.” and
- “Consuming is what we’ll still be doing every day. On screen or off. The end of today’s way of shopping is just the beginning of a new way of consuming.” Efficient, smart, personable, profitable!
This is what gave me so much hope as I started a business in 1991! After being trained as the Display Manager and Advertising Coordinator at Eatons, I wanted to freelance and use my talents and experience to help small Independently Owned and Operated businesses. Now you have access to what big box and department stores know and use, but you have a huge advantage! You’re small!
You don’t think of that as a huge advantage when you see all the space, products, and advertising that the huge stores manage. But if you think of a speed boat compared to a big ship, it takes a whole lot less time, energy, and water to turn around, or go in a different direction. IN the day in which we live now, and I’m writing this in 2016, things have to change more frequently and more quickly.
The way in which I’ve developed my talk and techniques so that I can explain and illustrate the key principles is what will help you, the Independent Retailer, make these changes more quickly and easily! Remember, the delight is in the detail! Today’s Displays are Tomorrow’s Dollars.
VMP Display Consultant for 25 years. Consulting, Instructing, Public Speaking and Writing.