Design your showroom like it’s your own home, says top retailer

Gary Parker, showroom manager, TBK Design

Showrooms should make sure every display is perfect and designed as if they were in your own home.

That is the advice from Gary Parker, showroom manager of TBK Design in London speaking on the latest kbbreview Podcast on the subject of showroom design and creating the perfect retail experience. And he says that is as true for small studios as it is for TBK Design’s 30,000 square-footer.

TBK Design was our Bathroom Retailer of the Year for 2021.

“The most important thing in any showroom,” advised Parker, “is that you take each individual display, be it large or small, and design it as if it was your own home, because what you are doing for people is very personal.

“If you have a small showroom and you can create three or four displays, but make sure that those displays are perfect, and that everything in those displays combines well. Make sure they are not cluttered. Make sure everything in them talks to each other, and you be surprised how people will comment about it and you will reap the rewards from  that time and effort you put into it.”

Parker added: “When you create something, be it a very small shower room or a large, luxury bathroom, make sure you do everything possible to make that display [the best it can be] so that the client can see. They are buying your knowledge and expertise, because that is what you specialise in.”

Three to four years ago TBK Design had the opportunity to create a new showroom from scratch and parker and owner Steve Joel and they knew they wanted to create a showroom that offered a real experience for customers.

One of the displays in the TBK Design showroom

Parker explained: “I have noticed from travelling to luxury showrooms and exhibitions that if the showroom has soft music, you feel relaxed. If there is a lovely smell, it makes you want to walk around the showroom. And if there is music in the background, it all makes the client feel relaxed and at home. This also helps them spend money.”

And that sensory appeal needs to extend to the smell of the shop.

Parker explained: “Going into local shopping centres ,you get that very ambient smell that encourages you to walk in. We found a company that produces an industrial fragrancing machine and we created our own mix specifically for the showroom. And when clients come in, they love the smell and it helps them relax. Some have even asked me for a bottle of it.”

Organising the showroom and making sure that the journey through it does not confuse the customer was also important to Parker.

“We felt we needed to cater for all of the needs in the marketplace,” said Parker. “And so we needed to split the showroom into three, catering for the budget end of the market, the middle range and the bespoke upper end of the market. Customers can walk through and see the different levels of product and choose which they want. People often flick from one level to another and buy things from each to make sure that they get what they want within their budget. And that has helped tremendously.”

A key part of the design was that displays should be large.

“We  found [from visiting] high-end luxury showrooms across Europe that we could do much larger displays of basins and furniture if we put all the toilets and baths in one place. The idea is to push the boundaries so customers can visualise exactly what their bathroom will look like.”

TBK Design also used a design agency to help with the new layout. Parker says that it worked well for them.

“If you bring a design agency in you have to listen to what they’ve got to say,” warned Parker. “Otherwise there is no point doing it. We wanted to see it from a different angle. We succeeded in getting everything we wanted, listening to and respecting everything they wanted, and between the two of us creating a showroom that would be as good as perfect.”

And his final parting shot is not to clutter it all up with brochures and sample boards.

“The showroom is our selling tool and it has got to be aesthetically the most pleasing it can be,” concluded Parker. “For me, it is my home and it has to be looking, smelling and tasting perfect every day of the week.”

• To listen to the full podcast, click on the link below.

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