Perhaps you’re suffering from the effects of Holiday 2008 and it’s given you a serious case of “Retail Tunnel Vision”: a state of mind that kicks in when we become so focused on our daily tasks that we lose sight of the big picture. Maybe a change is just what you need to start anew -- how about a Mini-Store Makeover?
We do many retail makeovers throughout the year; lots of which are one-day Mini-Store Makeovers where we change as much of the sales floor as humanly possible. It helps when the store owner is aggressive and really wants to see positive change.
This past June we did one-day mini-makeovers on four independently owned and operated stores. Two of the stores needed more than a one-day makeover, so in addition to immediate merchandising changes, we created a step-by-step plan to overhaul the stores. The third store needed just a visual merchandising tweak (it’s amazing what just a few changes can do to a sales floor!), and the fourth was, well, just a whole lot of fun.
Store # 4 was opened for business over 25 years ago by a sharp female entrepreneur; today it’s run by that same woman and her two daughters. Gifts, pottery, fine jewelry, crystal, apparel and gourmet foods are displayed in the many rooms of a historic home. It’s a fun store with ambiance to spare, but parts of it had remained the same since the day it opened – it was definitely time for change.
One of the first things we did was move the heavily shopped food items from the right front Power Wall to the back of the store. There is a reason grocer’s place necessary items such as milk and bread at the rear of the store: they want shoppers to walk through aisles of impulse items before they reach their destination product. This store needed to do this as well, so we relocated the food to the back of the shop, creating a wonderful nook for food and related items. The right front Power Wall was re-merchandised to feature beautiful hand-made pottery.
We completely tossed the room that housed the shop’s library. Before the mini-makeover, book racks had been placed to partly conceal two of the shop’s large front windows. We re-set the room to create a warm place to peruse the books, plus window displays that were appealing from both inside and outside of the store.
The fine jewelry cases were reset, adding jewelry forms to create depth, add romance and to highlight product groupings. One of our suggestions was to get rid of the old and out-of-date gold jewelry – it sold for almost $10,000!
The shop’s owners really go into it – together we changed display after display after display. We re-merchandised the sales floor and packed old product to be sold at festivals, auctioned on e-Bay, or donated to charity. By the time we left, that shop had a whole new look. But the best part was how the shop’s owners rose to the occasion – months later they are still they making positive changes. Customers like the changes and business is brisk!
Perhaps it’s time to do a mini-makeover in your own store? When was the last time you objectively viewed your store through your customers’ eyes? Last month? Last year? Never? If you think it’s time for a change, begin with this exercise. You’ll need a pen, paper, a digital camera, and lots of objectivity.
First up: the V & Vista exercise: Stand inside your front door just beyond the Decompression Zone (about 5’ inside the store) and spread your arms out at shoulder height with your index fingers extended. What’s inside the V your arms make is called is the Vista – the area that builds a shopper’s first impression of your store. The space inside the Vista needs to be clean, uncluttered and full of not-to-be-missed product. You need a Speed Bump display inside the Vista: choose small fixtures or stacking tables that hold an assortment of product, and are low enough for customers to see through the store.
The V will help you find your store’s Power Walls. Follow your nose down your right arm to the tip of your right index finger – the wall you are looking at is your front right Power Wall; the most important selling wall in your store. That’s because 90 percent of shoppers will enter your store and look or turn to the right. Use this wall to feature new, hot and happening product.
Now, follow your nose down your left arm to the tip of your left index finger. This left front Power Wall is also important – display it with as much thought and care as your right front Power Wall. Like your Speed Bump displays, Power Walls need to be changed frequently. At least once a month.
Now, walk through your entire store with your customers’ eyes on. Write down everything that needs to be changed, moved, updated, closed out, tossed or given away. Make a list of things to do. Note what needs to be changed ASAP and what can be fixed over time. By the way, if you do this exercise and only find two or three things to do, you are not being objective. Open your eyes and do it again.
After completing this exercise take photos with your digital camera. A camera has no personal investment in what it sees – it only sees what is in front of it. That’s why you sometimes look at photos of your store and think, “It doesn’t look that bad!” Yes, it does – the camera doesn’t lie. We like digital cameras because you can instantly compare your perception with what is actually there. Keep a reference book of before and after photos, it will come in handy year after year when you need display ideas.
Look at big picture things as well:
Do your walls need a fresh coat of paint? Does your choice of interior décor colors flatter your product? Do you have large display props that take away from the ambiance of your store? Perhaps that thatched canopy over the checkout counter or the mural painted on your front wall looked better on paper than they actually are – make the merchandise the star!
Do your walls need attention? We’ve been in many stores that have the walls lined with slatwall, but that slatwall stops about 5’ from the ceiling, leaving a lot of empty space above the fixture line. This area needs attention: empty space above the fixture line causes shoppers eyes to wander, you need something to refocus them on the product below. You can add additional slatwall, paint favorite quotations, or a clean design, around the perimeter of the store, or add model boards to showcase product.
Are your fixtures helping to sell product? Fixtures are meant to disappear and let the merchandise shine. One of the things we recommended in the store # 4 makeover was the elimination of tall wooden hutches located at the front of the store. Although they did a good job of housing product, they formed a barrier that limited the shopper’s view throughout the store. We recommended these fixtures be replaced with a glass cube system that would show off the product and the store.
Your store signing plays a key role in your store décor. Unless you have killer handwriting and specific rules as to how your signs should look, handwritten signs are a big no-no. So are cutesy signs, like “Unattended children will be given an espresso and a free puppy.” Even if kids are driving you crazy, don’t do it. These signs just irritate customers and make your store look bad.
Insignia Systems offers easy-to-use signing systems that operate with the ease of a typewriter. Click to visit their web site: http://www.insigniasystems.com
Set your checkout counter to sell. Checkout counters should never be placed at the front right of your store. This is prime selling real estate, and besides, you don’t want shoppers thinking about paying before they’ve even had a chance to shop. Checkouts work much better on the left side of your store, or in the center, set back about 15 - 20’.
The area behind the checkout counter is prime selling space, but the checkouts in three of the four stores in our June mini-makeovers had become cluttered and unworkable.
In each store, we rewrote policy signing to make it sound more positive: “We will gladly refund your money within 30 days. Your receipt guarantees it.” We cleaned up the area so customers could comfortably pay for their purchases. We stocked often forgotten items under the checkouts, and sprinkled impulse items to the top to increase add-on sales. Then we created irresistible displays behind each checkout so that customers would never stop thinking about merchandise.
In the end, the success of any store makeover relies on the commitment of the owner. We’ve worked with retailers who took our advice to heart and enjoyed big benefits, and we’ve worked with retailers who did nothing more after we left the store. Big mistake. January is the perfect time to get your store ready to sell!
Shake up your sales floor and stimulate sales with a Kizer & Bender one-day Mini-Store Makeover! Or call to book a full consultation. Areas assessed include store operations, store design and visual merchandising, open-to-receive, marketing, advertising, employee issues, and more.
“We hired Kizer and Bender as consultants and after their visit a year and one half ago, we increased our business 40%, and this year we are doing better than last year.”
Bud Izen, retail store owner