Profit driven strategic merchandising: What will you do for 2013?

I get many dealers contacting me with an interest in improving their stores’ visual merchandising. These dealers may feel that their showrooms lack a spark to initiate frequent sales. For sure, a store’s physical appearance is key. Customers sense the space, and if it’s not attractive and laid out in a way that makes shopping easy and logical, they won’t purchase.

How do you improve your visual merchandising? It starts with having a real retail strategy to put into play. You must start with the facts:

  • How much space do you have to display products on walls and floors? (Be detailed draw out your showrooms.)
  • How many new and used units do you sell each year and to what lifestyles?
  • When do those unit sales have their primary selling boom based on your sales numbers?
  • What segment is your store’s strength (off-road, moto, street bikes, cruisers, touring, ATV/UTV)?
  • Is your merchandise on hand aligned with unit sales?
  • Are your products diversified by lifestyle, gender, age, multi-level price points?
  • Do you have too much stale inventory from past buyers to clear?
  • Do you have to little product on hand?

Once you know these details, you can determine what needs to stay in inventory for a new visual display and what needs to go away and not be redisplayed.

You then take your showroom map and reset the layout based on the lifestyle style of users. For example, if 60 percent of unit sales are cruiser, you’d better stock 60 percent of accessories in cruiser merchandise using 60 percent of the P&GA showroom. Remember, your walls are your most valuable real estate and you should put high value, large scale and top selling products on them, such as saddlebags and chrome products that look good on walls. Avoid clutter and always use branding and signage to help sell your products. Don’t get lazy with merchandising; it will cost you sales if you do. Keep in mind that if you don’t have skills in merchandising, utilize your suppliers to help. They may be itching to make your showroom shine with you.

Remerchandising in a big way should happen early January. Plan to take down all non-current and last-season products and make some aggressive discounts to them move out before February. This will keep the showroom looking fresh and help with cash flow in winter. Try not to put closeout merchandise out front on tables; make dump bins for it. Tables take up too much space and look really bad, a dump bin contains the clutter and lets people treasure seek. Always make sure your best and freshest products are in the best locations! Also, avoid grouping multiple brand displays together in a line. When your display is sunglasses, then an oil rack, then a tire rack, it looks like a garage sale.

Be smart, take a risk and change up that space so your products look like they have a high value and not Bob’s garage sale.

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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