While a great deal of emphasis today is on e-commerce websites, distributors should not forget the importance of having an attractive retail showroom.
"Especially when it comes to cleaning equipment, many cleaning contractors prefer not to purchase online but [instead like to] touch and feel machines before they select them," says Leah Waldrop, marketing manager for AFFLINK's eLev8 process. "Walk-in traffic is likely to remain a big part of your business' marketing model."
Because of its importance, Waldrop suggests the following five tips for creating an effective sales-focused distributor showroom:
Know your customers
If the walk-in customers are mainly contract cleaners, equipment and cleaning supplies they most often select, such as floor machines, should be the first products they see. "However, if they are facility managers or hotel administrators, you might want to have vacuum cleaners made for the hospitality industry front and center."
Separate the needs from the wants
A "best practice" in showroom merchandising is to have customer "wants" in the front of the house and customer "needs" behind the counter. "The customer may have come in for something they need, but walking through the showroom, they might fall in love with something they want."
Organize by product, not manufacturer
Do not segment products by manufacturer, putting machines from one manufacturer in one area and machines from another in another area. "It is better to put products together by type so buyers can make side-by-side comparisons and get to know the products more thoroughly."
Turn the salesroom into a video classroom
Many distributors now have a collection of training videos; have two or three training videos playing on different monitors in the showroom. Not only does this turn the showroom into an educational experience, but customers might decide to select something they see demonstrated in the video.
Check the cleanliness of your salesroom
Many people judge the quality of a facility by how well it is cleaned and maintained. This is even more important for a jan/san distributor. "A high-gloss [floor] shine and super clean counters and displays can really say a lot about your business and your showroom."