Competition between merchants is greater than ever before with everyone looking to steal a march to help them stand out in the eyes of customers. Nowhere is that competitiveness more apparent than amongst small independent merchants looking to keep up with the pace of the larger chains.
Leyland Trade’s Kelly Quarmby looks at how smaller merchants can maximise sales and punch above their weight by maximising their merchandising.
Most merchants would agree that there is a world of difference between the consumer and trade customer but even so, taking inspiration from the way a large retail outlet displays, positions and promotes products to increase sales and footfall is a relatively cheap and easy way to maximise profitability. But where do you start?
First of all, view your trade counter from the point of view of your target customer. Are the products easy to find? If you were looking to buy in bulk, how easy is it to work out the discounts that are available? Are you making the most of the credibility and appeal that branded merchandising can offer? Sometimes seeing things from the other side of the counter can make all the difference.
Don’t underestimate the value of a good first impression.
When selling bulky products to trade customers fresh from a job, it’s easy to let basic housekeeping slip. However, ensuring that trade counters are clean and tidy is essential in portraying a professional image, as busy trade customers need to know that the merchant can meet their needs quickly and efficiently.
Planning an effective flow of stock that will lead the customer around the store is vital and sales of high margin, promotional and impulse lines can be maximised by positioning them in high traffic areas such as near the tills.
On the shelf, the paint tins should be neatly stacked, with all labels clearly visible and handles in a downwards position to make them easier to lift off the shelf. It sounds simple but creating an organised and well-stocked display can make a huge difference.
Do group products together
Grouping products and brands together helps to make self-selection easier and enhances the image of being a stockist of extensive, multi-brand ranges. What’s more, you can maximise the sales of paint brushes, rollers and other painting accessories by positioning them next to the tins of paint themselves. Everything the customer needs for a paint job — from cleaning products to glosses — should be displayed in a logical order to make it easy for them to find and ultimately buy what they need.
Don’t use confusing pricing structures
No matter what products trade customers are looking for, they will all want to consider one thing — the price. Most customers will be buying in bulk so make sure that all price structures are clear and easy to calculate, with details of any special offers and trade discounts highly visible. Setting up a regular programme of promotions is another great way to retain customer interest — but don’t forget to regularly review your offers to evaluate what is and isn’t working.
Do make the most of manufacturers’ merchandising
Take advantage of the help, advice and merchandising that is on offer from the manufacturers. Used correctly, branded point of sale can make a huge difference to the impact of the trade counter, not only in terms of visual impact and branding but also acting as a silent selling tool.
Keeping a well-stocked supply of colour cards and product literature also provides customers with the additional information that they require when selecting paint products.
Make it an experience
Many customers coming in to buy paint may only work on a few decorating jobs each year, so don’t expect them to know everything there is to know. It’s your job to talk to them about what they are trying to achieve, encourage them to use samples and generally give them the advice that allows them to make an informed decision.
The large retailers can tend to foster a pressured selling environment so go in the opposite direction and make your customers feel at ease in your store. Not only will they leave having made a purchase, but they will come back in the future.
A final thought
Don’t ever underestimate the value of a really great service proposition and invest your money in identifying, attracting, converting and retaining more of your ideal customers. It is these customers who will become loyal advocates of your store and will help you keep pace with the ever-changing market.