In today’s era of instant information and instant gratification, customers aren’t used to waiting or being inconvenienced.
One effect of today’s spontaneity of information is constant change. That means the traditional static showroom of yesterday needs to give way to a versatile, flexible showroom that plays to the expectations of today’s shopper.
Visual flexibility is critical in communicating compact bits of information in a simple, efficient way.
How does your showroom stack up in today’s quick-change market? Are you making visual changes regularly to keep it interesting for potential customers? Are you planning your space for optimum versatility? If not, you may want to consider whether your showroom impedes your customers’ desire for new experiences.
I’m not suggesting a costly showroom remodel every quarter, or even every year. But today’s showroom can, and should, be designed with versatility that offers variety in appearance as well as flexibility in function. We need to improve our ability to transform the retail showroom space to fulfill a different purpose from day to day for a strategic goal, business opportunity, etc., without jeopardizing long-term day-to-day needs.
Transforming our showrooms from inflexible and unmovable to dynamic can allow us to easily change their appearance and function as the need arises.
For years, the kitchen and bath industry has displayed products in “walled up” mazes of cabinets and vignettes that focus shoppers’ attention on what is directly in front of them. That may have been a required strategy when consumers were far less visual. This configuration worked to guide and focus consumers on purchase options, as style could be more easily captured and contained.
But today’s consumers aren’t as likely to shop as if they are visiting the Louvre – standing before a single display and contemplating it for long periods of time.
Walls are not always bad. But consider the placement of those walls as a way to drive opportunities – new ways to merchandise and interact with your brand.
In the traditional static showroom, displays are permanent and costly to replace. With the economy still precarious, investing in change can be daunting. But consider how long it’s been since your last major showroom change. If it’s been three or more years, then you may be at risk of being left behind.
As you think about revitalizing your showroom, be ready to dump the status quo. Simply replacing existing displays with new components will provide a fresh look, but it won’t address the versatility needed to modernize the shopping experience. Think outside the box and consider shopping behavior. Consider technology. Consider cultural differences in how various customers shop.
When Lifestyle Kitchen Designs began to plan its new showroom in Centerville, OH last year, the firm sought fresh ideas from professionals outside our industry. They brought in a creative designer, a commercial computer designer and a graphic artist to create an expanded team approach.
Dan Brower, v.p./development, said the goal was to “avoid the baggage of the traditional kitchen and bath showroom. We wanted to create a whole new environment, from look to smell to feel.”
The key is to make your showroom look and feel permanent, while also being easy to change, add to and adjust to make your space more flexible.
The use of mobile displays, for example, will provide opportunities to change the way customers see your products, but also can quickly open your retail and design location into a roomy venue for special events. Removable tile backsplashes are another way to allow for a quick change.
Consumers visiting kitchen showrooms frequently make a beeline to cabinet door samples. Consider designing your showroom so that not only the appearance, but the process changes to a more engaging scenario.
At Lifestyle Kitchen Designs, visitors are greeted by the Director of First Impressions – an appropriate title for the receptionist.