Reinventing the Floor Plan To Boost Customer Loyalty

POSTED BY Ashley Arhart on Jul 10, 2009

(Article first printed in Ingtegrated Solutions for Retailers Magazine)

As the saying goes, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. But where, you might ask? In several cases, the answer lies in those under-utilized areas of the floor often outfitted with discounted merchandise that shoppers must pass through on their way to the “real” shopping destination. Call it Proprietary Pop-up. Traditionally found in specialty stores, these themed displays will soon be popping up in mass merchandisers.

Although all segments of retail can find opportunities to maximize their floor plan to both boost sales and captivate shoppers, mass merchandisers just by nature of their stores’ size alone are best positioned for store entry reorganization. For example, a variety of popular retailers have long featured a tight zone of ever-changing discount merchandise near the store front. Rather than featuring a showcase that doesn’t necessarily complement the image of the retailer’s brand, there is a huge opportunity to design an eye-catching space that will better connect with your customers, help to boost sales and also, enhance your brand image. Imagine walking through one of today’s most popular discount store chain doors and encountering a beautifully presented private label experience zone, giving consumers a snapshot of how these higher price items will look in their own homes.

Five Reasons Why This New Approach Works:

1.) Keeps Customers Loyal

While we’re seeing a necessity-driven trend toward inconspicuous consumption, its important to remember that these consumers carry an ingrained predisposition toward premium presentation learned in better times. Call it a latent sense of experiential entitlement. In the short term, appealing directly to customers’ expectations is a huge opportunity for retailers who find themselves on this customer’s path by virtue of convenience or necessity. In the long term, when things turn around, the hope is that value-players can retain many of these shoppers because they offer the retail experiences these shoppers crave.

2.) Boosts Sales

As many have observed, manufacturers are feeling the pinch too these days. As their channels of distribution shrink, they’re looking for new and compelling ways to connect directly with their consumers. If that popular discount store chain’s entry vestibules feature immersive national or local brand experiences, it’s a way to monetize previously non-revenue generating space. The thoughtful retailer will appropriately curate these events, ensuring they enhance the customer’s overall experience. Visual presentation and content sophistication will be the name of the game.

3.) Enhances Brand Image

Rather than running the gauntlet of potentially brand-degrading discount and promotion, there is a huge opportunity to adopt a more specialty-oriented show window mentality in store areas of opportunity. By establishing these focused, high-impact, premium presentation zones and freeing them of the in-aisle visual competition and clutter, retailers are able to truly leverage them for optimal brand-building effect.

4.) Presents Consistency In Quality

Private label collections are increasing in quality and sophistication, and it only makes sense that presentation techniques should keep pace. More affluent shoppers are obviously trading down in this economy, but expectations of value don’t necessarily correlate to expectations of downgraded experience.

5.) Cost Effectiveness

Already under your roof, dollars spent on activating these highly visible existing real estate assets are the most efficient ones you can spend. They don’t displace currently planned programs and they work to increase your overall portfolio of in-store marketing and presentation opportunities. When planned and built for serially-occurring proprietary pop-up, even more elaborate digital media-enhanced presentations pencil out nicely over time. And if you enter into an arrangement that benefits from a sponsoring brand’s financial participation, all the better.

These days, mall parking lots are full even if fewer people are spending. As a result, it may be the malls that find this proprietary pop-up approach especially advantageous in these hard times. As tenants renegotiate leases, delay occupancy or disappear, malls find themselves with an abundance of leveragable square footage. Appropriate activation of this space is a huge opportunity for consumer brands, especially those who haven’t traditionally sought visibility in the mall. By placing themselves squarely on the shopper’s path and creating engagement-worthy experiences, even some financial services brands might have a chance at slowly redefining their image in the consumer’s mind. Malls will strive to maintain their experiential relevance in the absence of traditional tenant support, likely finding themselves at the center of an entirely new ecosystem of direct-to-consumer marketing.

Whether or not a more frugal mindset is a permanent feature of American consumerism, only time will tell. But we are certainly seeing the largest purchasing behavior change in decades and it demands innovation. Is Proprietary Pop-up the answer? No. But it does provide retailers a way to do new, better and more with less. Something we’re all hoping to do.

WRITTEN BY Ashley Arhart

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