‘Showrooms should take customers on a journey’

Retailers need to create a storyboard for the customer journey through the showroom, a bathroom retailer has claimed.

Speaking at the kbbreview Retail and Design Conference at kbb Birmingham, Tony Murphy (pictured), bathroom sales manager at Tilestyle in Ireland, advised that dealers need to understand how customers navigate their showroom to create a design that will develop their brand.

“In retail, we must be alive with creativity, developing cutting-edge design with new ideas,” he said. “Bathroom retailing is all about inspiring customers and providing a creative canvas that allows customers to visualise the elements in their own homes.

“Your physical premises are your defining asset where customers encounter your brand. The showroom can deeply affect customers, creating emotional responses that can influence their decisions on whether to buy from you or not.”

Start with the exterior, in particular the signage and windows. He also says that the entrance should be clean and welcoming, as this acts as a “decompression zone”, where customers make the mental shift from the outside world to a dealer’s showroom.

He adds that once a customer has entered the building, they should be greeted with an open space and no large displays or messages.

From here, dealers need to present customers with a defined path through the store, which will give them maximum exposure to the products on offer.

He also advised to create “visual speed bumps” that will slow the customer down when walking around the showroom, such as signage or special offers that create visual breaks.

“Given the effort and expense involved in creating your displays, the last thing you want is for customers to hurry past them,” he said. “Consider your choice of products on display, both in terms of margin and volume ranking.”

Murphy also advised that the showroom should leave adequate personal space for people when browsing products, and offer comfortable seating that will encourage visitors to spend more time in the showroom.

Other elements to consider are zoning products into blocks to help customers make decisions, product placement, and making sure your customer service desk is big enough to be used as a planning station. And don’t forget the refreshments, he added.

“Once you’ve got your showroom right, you only have to get your team right,” he concluded.

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