Saturday, May 10, 2008

displaying products

My son, who works at our retail store, wrote this article on displaying products in small retail stores. He used our own soaps as examples. Here it is!


Displaying product ideas for small stores

This is going to be one of those posts that will be in the "I know that" column for some, and the "Neat ideas" column for others.

What I want to talk about is how to display retail products properly. Now, this isn't an article on how to display items in a chain store where the home office gives strict guidelines on how to display and market product.

This is for small boutique shops that sell product they don't manufacture. Gift shops, salons, soap and spa product stores, etc. I'll be using our products to demonstrate... since we sell our products exclusively ;)

Promoting products in store

One of the things we wanted to help solve for our customers was promoting our line in their stores.

First In Line Soap, as a wholesale loaf soap seller, is trying to make the in-store marketing of our products as easy as possible. What we do is provide each loaf soap we sell with decorative signs, wrapping paper for individual slices, and decorative labels for each fragrance/design.

What this does is provide customers with an easy to read sign on the name and fragrance of the product. Wrapping a slice of soap and putting our decorative label on it does a few things. One, it reminds people of the product name they purchased and, two, sends them home with a little gift to open.

One of the things we've noticed at First In Line Soap is that our customers buy small quantities. Space might be the issue. We completely understand. Having our own retail shop forces us to not only make compromises with purchasing product, but also allows us to be creative in our displaying ideas.

Let's use our loaf soaps, which are our best sellers, as an example of customers making smaller purchases due to limited space issues.

Space issues

Customer A has ordered two loafs of soap.

2 loafs of soap (and a slicer) would cost $83, plus shipping. We have a $75 minimum for first time buyers.

We recognize that space is always going to be a factor when it comes to displaying product. Most small business owners will tell you that they never have enough space.

Regardless of size, the fact is that a full store always looks better than an empty one.

What if you want to introduce a new product, but you only have a small space?

The first thing you're going to have to do is get some specifications. It would be a shame to buy a new product line and find out that not only is the space too small... but now you're stuck with all this new product, and you can't properly display it!

First In Line Soap loafs are 1-foot long, 4-inches wide and yield 12 1-inch slices.

On a 5-foot wide table that is 2-foot deep... that's a pretty impressive presence of soap you've got there! You could have a display similar to what we have at our Soapier retail store.

Now, maybe you have that 3-foot table. We're a new product for you and you want to see how things sell. So you buy two loafs.

What you're going to get is a pretty empty table with two great smelling soaps on it... but nothing that is going to catch your customers eye.

I recognize that this might be a bit of an exaggeration, but from our experience, we get so many customers that purchase only two to three loafs of soap, and not even multiple loafs of each! While there is no break in price for purchasing multiple loafs, we're all consumers. We all know that going into a store and seeing a rack of similar items triggers something in our brain that entices us to buy. Repetition, in all of its many forms, works to get people's attention.

Having a large selection of product (from one brand or multiple) can never really hurt you. But, having a range of products from a single brand you trust (and have experience with) will give the product a more impressive presence in your store, and will certainly catch your customers eye.

In our store we have a large set-up in the middle of the shop where most of our loaf soaps are. We also have our soap slice cutter there, so customers can watch us cut fresh slices for them.

We know most stores can't afford to give up that much space. But if you are opening up a new store (or looking to re-design your shop), you might want to consider displaying your strongest items (whether it be soap or stuffed animals or chocolate) like we have.

Let's take a look at two of our smaller soap products, our Soapier Accent Soaps and our Loofah Boats when it comes to displaying.

Soapier Accent Soaps are about 3.5-inches wide by 1.5-inches high and come in six fragrances.

Here's what you get when display 4 of our Kitchen Soaps. We get these kinds of orders all the time.

As a consumer, I would look at that and not be interested. The sign is nice enough, but there's nothing to hold my attention except for a bunch of white space. Put this in a store corner, and it will either get hidden or dismissed pretty quickly.

Here's what we did at our retail store. And while we know that space defines product quantities, you can be inventive on how you'd display 8-12 of these bars.

We used clear glass plates and stacked soaps all over, like they were spilling off the plate. The colors are such that that Kitchen Soap is striking, a contrast between the Chamomile, Clay and Seaweed, Jasmine and Orange Soaps. It almost serves as an anchor. And when customers get a whiff of chocolate and coffee soap... well, they always comment on it.

Don't have this much space? No problem! Get a large platter and stack the soaps that way. They are all very distinctive, people won't have a problem distinguishing between them.

Our Loofah Boats are a great combination of glycerin soap and loofah. They come in four great fragrances and are a hit with men and women looking for a soap and exfoliant in one. There are some people who are partial exclusively to loofahs, and they love this produce.

Here's an example of displaying them when purchasing a small handful.

When Soapier first opened, we didn't have signs up for our products. The store is so small, we figured that if people wanted to ask a question about a product, they would just ask. This is hardly ever the case.

Most customers don't want to be bothered with asking questions. They can see what the product is. They want to know the price and move on.

So we started making signs up for our products, and using a simple clear plastic bowl you can buy at K-Mart for $15, we displayed them like this:

Huge impact, nice sign, colorful, fragrant... makes a statement, right? Not a lonely box shoved in a corner, but a display that will attract customers. The ones you WANT to target.

The last example I'm going to give you is with our sugar scrubs. Sugar scrubs are not a cheap spa product. Super high end brands can sell for $40, minimum. It's not something retailers want to take a chance with because six of each fragrance from some of these companies will end up costing you an enormous outlay.

First In Line Soap respects its wholesale customers. And, frankly, in this economy, purchasing a new product can be quite scary. We deal with it every day as we try and stock our retail store with more and more bath accessories. What will work, what won't, what we won't be able to give away... we know the drill.

But just like everything else, if you're ready to take that step in purchasing a new product like our Sweet Sugar Scrubs, presence is key.

Our Sweet Sugar Scrubs come in a number of fragrances. 8 to be exact. You are going to want to offer your customers a choice of them, naturally. Perhaps not all 8, but 4 at the minimum.

Sugar scrubs look GREAT when stacked together. We suggest 6 of each fragrance. Take a look at how nice and vibrant our Sweet Sugar Scrub selection looks:

At our store, customers go right to it. All those colors, all those possible fragrances... they love it.

One of the things we suggest (though sometimes it's not possible) is to offer sugar scrub demonstrations for your customers. We have ours set up like this.

Basically, if someone is interested, you ask them what fragrance they'd like. Once they've chosen, you use the pitcher of water to wet their hands. Use a small spatula or spoon and spoon some of the sugar scrub into their hands. They rub their hands with it (make sure you tell them to get the backs!) and then use the pitcher to clean off the sugar scrub, all the while toting the sugar scrubs wonderful properties and selling points.

Give them a clean washcloth to dry their hands and viola.

The Sugar Scrub Hand Spa Treatment has been enormously successful in our retail shop.

Soap as a new product

This question is the rub, right? To try a new product or not to try.

I don't think anyone can really answer this question for you. And if they try and answer the question for you, chances are they're the salesman.

In regards to our products, the only thing you can do is the research and feel your customers out. Are you getting requests for soaps? Do you have space to market, display and sell a new product correctly?

There are very few products that sell themselves.

First In Line Soap prides itself on selling quality products, colorful, fragrant and unique, at good price points for our wholesale customers. We want you to make money, and we want your customers to like our products.

In the end you have to trust your own instincts. Because at the end of the day you have to look at your store and be proud of it. You have to look at your daily report and be happy, or figure out how to improve your business. You have to be happy with your decisions and stay positive.

It's hard, but we're not giving up. And neither should you!


John Painz
VP Marketing
First In Line


Anonymous said...

Holy Smokes
What a GREAT bunch of ideas - can't wait to try some of them in my shop. I'm one of those who knows what I like when I see it but can't conceptualize it!
Thank you, thank you.

Anonymous said...

I agree, great ideas! It's so easy to keep displaying things the same way every time but this showed me that I really need to try something new. I've done the classical mistake and kept my shelves too sparse looking (thinking it would give the shop a "cleaner", more modern look. The soap displays really look better and more inviting your way!
By the way, it would be fun to see more photos from your shop!

aliah said...

I think good idea is very important for when you are looking for product display. good display can help you lot in promoting products in store.
shop display