At the Revitalize WA conference I sat in on a session by Scott Day with Urban Development Services, on Fifty Ideas for Retailers That Cost Less than $50. This is part two of the best of his tips. Go back and catch part one: Small Town Retail Ideas.
|Boehs Hardware in Helena, Oklahoma,
has an open floor plan,
baskets for shoppers, and
great interior signs.
Floor plans matter. You need to expose the customer to as much merchandise as possible in a clear and concise manner. The area just inside the door and around to the right are the superior selling areas. The back corners are non-performers.
One smart move: make your back wall a wall of WOW! Let it draw customers in. Where their eyes go, their feet will follow, Scott said. Clear the sight lines to hard-to-see sections.
Keep merchandise everywhere customers look. No matter which direction they look, let them see items for sale. For example, 4-way racks for clothing are great for keeping merchandise facing customers.
Keep your store looking full. Use striking display items to fill empty spaces. One cosmetics store used colorful printed shopping bags from their national brand to fill the top shelf area. It gave great graphic appeal, but cost very little. A hardware store bought empty paint cans (with labels) from their national brand to fill in a huge open wall area over their paint display. Paint sales actually went up, because customers perceived they had more in stock.
Get your personal junk out of the front room. And get business junk out of the front room. Use or even rent storage as needed.
Hand made signs are OK for handmade merchandise only. Restaurants can use hand-made signs for daily fresh items, but not for staples or other items on sale. Even partially printed signs that allow the retailer to fill in details by hand are better than ones entirely written by hand.
Florescent signs and price stickers convey cheap. And putting too many bright-colored sales “burst” signs is not believable.
|A favorite interior display
from my retail liquor store.
Light merchandise with halogen spots for a more premium look. For a cheap look, use broad fluorescents.
All elements in the display should tell a complete story and create a sense of urgency.
Make Them Comfortable
Offer chairs and seating areas. You can go as far as making it into a hangout. One women’s clothing store put in a waiting area with drinks, recliners and great cable tv. Guys don’t seem to mind shopping there now.
Give shoppers baskets. Customers will tend to self-limit their purchases to what they can carry, rather than make trips to the counter.
Avoid deadly silence. It makes customers feel like they are intruding or being watched.
If you aren’t using a computerized Point of Sale (POS) system, make a simple binder and develop your own inventory worksheets. There is no need to close down to count items. You can keep a current count monthly by counting just 1/4 of each department each week.
You need good inventory control for two reasons, Scott said. You need to know your best selling and highest profit items. And you need to be able to diagnose the reasons for poor performers.
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.