Brick and mortar: don’t throw in the towel yet!

If you are attending powersports retailing seminars a lot these days, you are hearing more talk about Internet sales and online store and product promotion.

I sense that we have some very Internet savvy powersports retailers (with strong brick and mortar stores), and we have powersports retailers who are not savvy and have minimal interest or skills with Internet and how it relates to their business. What I observe is some serious deer in the headlights reactions from dealer participants regarding all aspects of Internet and retailing today.

I am here to tell you that brick and mortar is NOT dead or dying. Some customers love Internet shopping, and others prefer the in-store experience. Let me say what I have been learning from the mainstream retail world — that the future belongs to brands! People are brand fans; from Coke to Porsche people LOVE their brands and seek them out, online to in-store. Brands that will grow will do so because they will be accessible in what are called Omni-channel (online, in store, mobile, events) avenues. Customers may spend time to discover more about products of a favorite brand online, but they may prefer to buy it off the shelf where they can use a tactile (hands-on) experience.

Jerry Storch, CEO of Toys”R”Us, has said, “The Internet is one of the most transformational, revolutionary forces of our lifetime, but it’s not transcendent. It’s huge, but it isn’t everything. In retailing, you are good based on what you buy. Merchandising still needs to be at the core of your skills.”

Merchandising and promotion in store is highly important!

Visual Merchandising needs to take a higher level in all retail stores, tying in branding, the images, the graphics the brands story to shelving products will take your sales upward! No matter the size or location of your store, great merchandising is the secret to doing better sales with the same floor traffic.

For too long the powersports retailing world has not set the world on fire with product visual merchandising. I see tidy stores often, but they’re usually dull and lacking any reason to buy or urgency. Today’s top retailers will make bigger brand statements and promote the user’s lifestyle over price wars. Can I just say, that if you are gonna play the price war game, you will likely loose! Someone will always try or find a way to be cheaper so DON’T GO THERE! Play to people’s sense of fun, play and escapism!

Make your store merchandising so compelling that customers forget about time and forget about being sensible! FYI, it’s not the stack it high and let it fly. It’s more like tell the story, hit the customer’s motivation buttons and focus on powersports users’ riding lifestyles for your store and region. Always tie visual merchandising with great branding, and that is how the future will be won!

A few closing tips:

  • Remerchandise stores mores often with brands and top user lifestyles (adventure, cruising, etc.).
  • Don’t let your store’s products be commodity sold. (Tires, helmets, jackets take a beating here. Change your store to appeal to people’s emotions so they can connect with your products.)
  • Use outside eyes to view your store’s product visual merchandising.
  • Less is more — less product with better displays is likely to turn more often.
  • If in doubt, go look at other retailers that you can copy ideas from. Take some pictures.
  • Make sure all store events are somehow tied to brands you are selling and vice versa.

Jennifer Robison’s career began in 1987 when she served as a service writer/parts sales for a high-end import auto dealer before becoming one of the first generation of Harley-Davidson Motorclothes managers at a Northwest dealership (1991-2000). From 2002 on, Jennifer has been with Tucker Rocky Distributing. Jennifer has educated the Tucker Rocky sales force and dealers about the powersports apparel business and powersports retailing. Jennifer’s expertise is in powersports retailing, merchandising and display, promotions and in-store marketing. She has lectured and written about powersports retailing and continues to perform dealer educational workshops and seminars across the United States.

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