Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Retail Storage Solutions

If you own or manage a small retail store or boutique, you have probably struggled with not having enough storage space for your inventory and merchandising tools. This is so common, especially during the holiday season. You want to have enough inventory so that your supply keeps up with the demand, but you have probably had problems finding the space to run the business like you want to. Use these storage and display ideas to get the most out of the space that you have and create space where you didn’t know that you had it before.

Come up with a system for keeping the store room organized. Have garment racks handy for steaming clothing that is coming out of the box. Try installing a ceiling rack for boxes and other lightweight items that you need to keep out of your way. Roll out wrinkle free clothing on your garment racks as soon as possible to keep the store room from getting too cluttered.

You can make extra room on the sales floor so that you don’t have to store so much. Too many garment racks can clutter up the space that you have. Additionally, cramming your inventory onto the racks can turn customers away. No one wants to dig through packed racks back to back with other customers. Installing gridwall or slatwall could be the answer.

Gridwall and slatwall systems help you to utilize vertical space. You can display your clothing and other items facing forward so that customers have an easy time seeing what you have to offer. You can help to eliminate the need for extra storage by hanging your inventory on the gridwall or slatwall bars. When you need to put out more inventory than normal, like when you’re having a sale or promotion, simply swap out your normal bars for longer ones.

Grid wall panels and slat wall panels can hold a lot of weight, so you can really use them to display and store at the same time. They are extremely versatile and easy to rearrange. As certain items run out, you can simply move the bars around to fill in the space.

You can maximize the impact of your gridwall and slatwall displays by using mannequin forms. Hanging mannequin forms are lightweight and easy to use. Simply hang them on the ends of your display bars and customers can see what the items look like when they’re being worn. This eliminates the need for many customers to try on clothing. Your store stays nice and neat, and customers aren’t constantly rearranging or digging through your displays. Employees can concentrate on helping customers and take down the sizes that they need only when they need them.

When you stock your store with gridwall or slatwall, you open up your business to many new opportunities. You’ll even attract new customers as they pass your store and easily see what you have to offer.

About the Author: Ron Maier is the Vice President of S & L Store Fixtures, a leading online resource for retail displays, including mannequins, dress mannequin forms, female mannequins, slatwall and gridwall store fixtures. For more information, please visit http://www.slstoredisplays.com.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Retail Christmas Displays

Christmas is the perfect time to bring in new customers and entice your old ones to revisit. Your displays can say a lot about you. They should be the focal point of the store’s entrance and should be continually updated throughout the store and throughout the season.

Christmas displays can be a lot of fun and draw a lot of attention. Your use of lighting and decoration can be anywhere from simple to extravagant and help you to communicate a message. Customers draw their first impression within three seconds of seeing your store, so keep that in mind as you design and implement your holiday display plans.

It is important to get it right the first time. You don’t want to stray from your store’s image, but you do want to draw attention. Start with your store’s theme, feeling, and target audience. Are you going for a more sophisticated feel, a modern look, or trying to attract bargain shoppers? Make sure that your display doesn’t take away too much from your merchandise. If you have a bold display, then the merchandise should be at least as bold so that it doesn’t get drowned out.

Mannequins are perfect for window displays and for making bold statements that don’t take attention away from the merchandise. In fact, mannequin displays have proven to be the most effective merchandising tool available to retailers. They show how clothes look when they are worn, which beats out hanging on the rack any day. But, they actually do a lot more than that, which allows you to use them when trying to influence your customers’ behavior.

Mannequins have the unique ability to make customers subconsciously make a connection with the clothing. People can walk by garment racks all day and never image wearing the clothes that are hanging there. They might notice a design that they like or an interesting fabric. But, if they don’t consider how the clothing will make them feel and what other people will think of the clothing, then they are not likely to ever make a purchase. Putting a female mannequin or a dress mannequin in the window will make people passing by instantly imagine themselves wearing the clothes. That’s half the battle. Add some accessories, lighting, scenes and scenarios, and you’ve got them also imagining what it would be like to wear the clothes and what other people would think of it.

About the Author: Ron Maier is the Vice President of S & L Store Fixtures, a leading online resource for retail displays, including mannequins, dress mannequin forms, female mannequins, gridwall and slatwall store fixtures. For more information, please visit http://www.slstoredisplays.com.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Make Room in a Small Boutique

If you run a boutique, chances are space is an issue. Many boutiques are run by individual owners who simply cannot invest a lot of money on store space. Therefore, it becomes important to make the most of the space that you have available. Whether you’ve expanded your inventory, or you’ve always needed more room, you can use these tips to help you make room by following these steps.

First, you need to get rid of merchandise that just isn’t moving. Have a sidewalk sale or set up a clearance area and sell off what you can to make some room. Floor space and garment racks should not be crowded, so do what you can to consolidate, but don’t pack things together so tightly that no one is interested in digging through them. Move some things to storage if you have to.

Make use of the vertical space in your store. A popular option for retail merchandising is to have gridwall or slatwall installed. It is fairly inexpensive and can save you loads of space. Plus, there are other benefits to using it.

With a few simple accessories like hanging bars, shelves and hooks, you can turn your grid wall or slat wall into a merchandising and promotion dream. Using gridwall and slatwall systems puts your merchandise up where people can actually see what you have at a glance. Since customers often use their first impressions to determine whether or not they will buy anything, letting them know what you have when they walk in is a great idea.

When the floor is more spacious and open, you are less likely to lose merchandise to shoplifters. Gridwall and slatwall are loved by retailers everywhere because of this feature. Your employees can see shoppers from all around when there is no place to hide. Having crowded clothing racks just a few feet apart gives thieves the sense of security that they need to shoplift.

Clearing out floor space by using gridwall and slatwall makes your store look more inviting. It makes it more user-friendly, clean and organized. It also creates open spaces that you can use for more interesting displays, like mannequin displays. You can even hang mannequin torso forms on the ends of your hanging racks that protrude from your gridwall or slatwall. This is an effective way of letting your customers know what your clothing looks like when it is worn and drawing attention to your items.

About the Author: Ron Maier is the Vice President of S & L Store Fixtures, a leading online resource for retail displays, including mannequins, dress mannequin forms, female mannequins, gridwall and slatwall store fixtures. For more information, please visit http://www.slstoredisplays.com.

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A Professional’s Guide to Consumer Behavior

Understanding consumer behavior is essential when you are preparing your store for the new year. Marketing and merchandising are centered around how you will make consumers feel, think, and act. The main goal of marketing is to influence the way that consumers think. Motivating them to decide to buy what you want them to buy is what must be accomplished to ensure a profitable selling season.

Customers are as influenced by experience as they are by product positioning and presentation. Training your employees to offer customer service above and beyond what the customer expected can go a long way in influencing consumer behavior. When an escalated situation is handled professionally, nicely, and effectively, an aggravated customer is likely to make a purchase and return in the future. One reason is that they now have a connection with your store and your staff.

In real life, going through an ordeal that ends with a favorable outcome draws people closer together and strengthens their relationship. The same applies for customers who have a problem. Try not to dread dealing with irate customers. Look at difficult situations as ways to bond and turn problems into favorable relationships than you could not have originally obtained.

Make sure that customers feel as if you understand and acknowledge their problem. Listen more than you speak. Solve their problem in a way that exceeds their expectation and you’ve struck gold. Not only does the customer have a stronger bond with you, but they have an incident to talk about with their friends. If they walk away feeling like you handled the situation in a professional and personal manner, then they are going to spread the word.

Product positioning is also important when your intention is to influence consumer behavior. First you must understand what type of customer you are trying to influence. Are your customers looking for deals? Are they looking for quality? Are they shopping for others? Determine which sets of customers you would like each display to appeal to and go from there. For example, a table set up with sweaters that would make great gifts may be tied with ribbon to resemble a present. You could place a sign here that informs customers about your free gift wrap services.

Position your displays in areas where customers are likely to decide to make purchases. Your big attractors should be in the front of the store to draw customers in. However, you do not want all of your best finds to be right in the door, or customers will get more disappointed as they move through and leave with a bad impression. Use mannequins and signage to draw customers back further and further into the store. Impulse buys along the aisles that receive the most traffic will help to lure the customers in. Using a mannequin, like a female mannequin or male mannequin, can help you to position your product where it can be easily seen. For example, someone standing twenty feet away may notice your dress mannequin wearing a coat that they really like and move back to that area. If the coat was simply hanging, the customer would have never gone back there.

Use mannequins, spread out your merchandise, and always treat your customers with respect. You will keep the sales going through busy and slow seasons year round.

About the Author: Ron Maier is the Vice President of S & L Store Fixtures, a leading online resource for retail displays, including mannequins, dress mannequin forms, female mannequins, gridwall and slatwall store fixtures. For more information, please visit http://www.slstoredisplays.com.

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Merchandising Tips for Retailers

There are endless ways to merchandise your inventory. If you are looking for some fresh ideas, you’ve come to the right place. It is always good to keep things changing when it comes to retail. Customers will get bored if they see the same displays twice and stop considering shopping in your store.

The goal of any display is to grab attention. The purpose of window displays is to get customers interested in coming inside the store. Promotional displays are generally at the entrance of the store, or in a high-traffic area, like a walkway. Mannequins can be used to bring customers to certain parts of the store. Signage is a great way to communicate to your customers as well. Lighting, fully stocked garment racks, and helpful employees are also necessary. But there is still something else to consider.

Retail stores can benefit greatly from utilizing retail gridwall and retail slatwall fixtures. These commercial strength displays do something that regular clothing racks cannot. They get all of your merchandise right up in the customer’s line of sight.

Slatwall and gridwall both have detachable hooks, bars, clamps, and shelves that can easily be moved and rearranged to give you the most aesthetically pleasing display possible. Employees can simply move the fixtures left or right, up or down, to get the spacing right between merchandise.

As a retail store owner, you know the importance of keeping your racks fully stocked. Customers ignore garment racks that have only a couple of things hanging on them. People are actually turned off by a clothing rack that is near empty. They get the impression that something is wrong with the garments hanging there. They wonder why you are not restocking. Maybe these clothes have gone out of style, are being clearanced, or they think that the chances of their size being there is really slim. This is where gridwall or slatwall can save you again.

On a grid wall or a slat wall, you can easily combine like items on to one peg, bar or shelf. Combining items that you can’t restock helps to keep the racks looking full. If you don’t have anything else to fill in the hole, then simply move around some racks on the grid wall or slat wall to space them out more evenly. The next time you get new merchandise, simply move everything closer together again, making space for the new merchandise.

This technique keeps your retail store always looking full. Gridwall and slatwall keep everything directly in sight of the customers. They also clear out floor space making the store easy to navigate for customers, reducing the places for shoplifters to hide, and making room for any extra holiday or promotional items that you may have coming in.

About the Author: Ron Maier is the Vice President of S & L Store Fixtures, a leading online resource for retail displays, including mannequins, dress mannequin forms, female mannequins, slatwall and gridwall store fixtures. For more information, please visit http://www.slstoredisplays.com.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Dress Up Your Boutique

The holidays are a perfect time to get your boutique looking out of this world. You’re going to have a lot more traffic than normal and you need to make a good impression. These steps will help you to keep things fresh, impress your customers, makes sells, and showcase your merchandise.

1) Make sure that your clothing racks and displays are kept nice and neat. People’s first impressions are important. You don’t want them to feel like you don’t care about the way your boutique looks. Make an effort to constantly straighten racks and stacks of clothing so that it looks presentable. This also helps to keep the clothes wrinkle free. Use nice hangers, like wooden hangers, to keep clothing separated on the garment rack. Little touches like this will keep your store looking fabulous.

2) Keep your clothing displays stocked. People think that you are about to put something on clearance if the rack is looking lean. Studies show that people bypass racks that are not stocked because they either think that something is wrong with the clothes and you are no longer going to carry them, or they think that their size is likely not there, so they don’t want to waste their time. During the holiday season, especially, you need to keep the inventory coming. If you notice something selling quickly, make sure that you have plenty of stock on hand to keep that display full.

3) Keep it fresh. People will often visit a store more than once during the holiday season. Keep it interesting by rearranging your displays daily. An easy way to do this is to use mannequins. Your mannequins are an easy way to keep things changing while helping to make sales. They are bar none the number one most effective merchandising tool on the market. They show people, at a glance, what items look like when worn. This serves many purposes. Customers don’t have to try on something to see that they like it. It draws attention to feature displays. It personalizes outfits, making it easy for customers to imagine themselves in the outfit.

Using a dress mannequin or female mannequin designed for dresses makes a huge difference in the way that dresses are viewed. Test out the theory by putting a different dress on your dress mannequin every day and see how the one on the mannequin outsells the rest every time. Women especially imagine themselves in clothing. They want to know how it will make them feel, not just how it looks, so mannequins posed correctly help to drive that feeling right into their consideration, boosting sales and the impression of your store.

Keeping things organized and using your mannequin displays to help sell certain items is a great thing to focus on this holiday season. Stay on top of it and your boutique may have its most successful season yet!

About the Author: Ron Maier is the Vice President of S & L Store Fixtures, a leading online resource for retail displays, including mannequins, dress mannequin forms, female mannequins, gridwall and slatwall store fixtures. For more information, please visit http://www.slstoredisplays.com.

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Gridwall and Slatwall Systems Can Help You Save Space

Boutiques and retail stores are often short on space. How many times have you said to yourself, “If I had the space, I could do so much more with my business.”? Sometimes it’s not that we actually need a bigger space, but that we need to learn to better utilize and organize the space that we have.

Gridwall and slatwall are the most popular, cost effective items on the market for utilizing vertical space in a retail setting. But, there are more benefits to using one of these systems than you may realize.

Slatwall and gridwall panels are both fairly cheap to install. It is generally recommended that you have a professional contractor do the job to be absolutely certain that the wall panels will hold up the weight that you need them to. Check with your insurance company before you attempt it yourself because they may require that a professional contractor do it and guarantee the work.

Once installed, both systems are easy to keep clean and neat. Shelves, hooks and hanging bars are easily moved about and both slatwall and gridwall can be simply wiped down with a damp cloth when needed. Slat wall panels come in a wide variety of colors and styles that are sure to match your décor. Grid wall sections also come in a few different colors and finishes that can help you to set the tone that you want in your store.

Gridwall and slatwall allow you to conveniently and easily move displays around with very little effort. This is such a useful aspect in the retail environment where needs are constantly changing. The versatility is unmatched by any other retail display. You can quickly switch from summer to winter, from sweaters to shoes, or even from jewelry to power tools. The possibilities are truly endless.

Gridwall and slatwall both allow you to put clothing and accessories on the wall instead of in your floor space. Not only does this save you from having an overcrowded sales floor, but it also allows you to coordinate your displays to make more sales. Let’s say that you are selling general apparel, like jeans, shirts, hats and jewelry. Normally these items would be hung on different racks around the store. But, with a grid wall or a slat wall, you can hang them facing outward and next to each other. You can even use torso mannequin forms to display the outfits in their entirety without using any more space.

Using your gridwall and slatwall to your advantage can save you on rent and power, but can also make your store or boutique easier to shop in. Customers appreciate being able to see what you have without digging through racks and crowded displays.

About the Author: Ron Maier is the Vice President of S & L Store Fixtures, a leading online resource for retail displays, including mannequins, dress mannequin forms, female mannequins, gridwall and slatwall store fixtures. For more information, please visit http://www.slstoredisplays.com.

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Green Your Boutique

Want to make a good impression on your customers and feel better about your boutique’s impact on the environment? Use these tips to get your boutique or retail store headed in the right direction.

1. Recycle and use recycled products. Let people know that you care about recycling by providing recycle bins as well as normal trash receptacles in your store.

2. Offer online offers instead of mailers. Turn your business into a paperless environment if possible. Urge customers to let you e-mail a receipt to them instead of using paper. If you can, use recycled printer paper and receipt paper.

3. Use bamboo and organic fabrics whenever possible. People are actually looking to buy more organic cotton and renewable bamboo fabrics. Not only are these fabrics safer for our skin, but they are safer for the environment as well. Pesticides and toxic fertilizers used in cotton fields contaminate our water supply and farmland. People are becoming more and more aware of the dangers of conventional farming and they don’t want to support it. Using organic fabrics when you can will get the attention of these environmentally conscious consumers.

4. Post signs about charities that you donate money to. Give customers the option to donate to organizations that help the environment by cleaning up waste, recycling or planting trees. You can put brochures or signs near your checkout letting customers know that a portion of your proceeds will go to charities that help save the Earth and our precious natural resources.

5. Make it obvious that you are helping the environment by using bamboo instead of wood all over your store. Floors, tables, hangers, desks and doors can all be made of bamboo. You can use bamboo hangers to make sure that the message is loud and clear that you care about the environment, without sacrificing the look and feel of your store’s image.

6. Utilize as much natural light as possible to save on electricity. Sky lights are cheap to install and can even be used as spot lights. Use sheer curtains so that light can always come in. Use fans instead of central cooling whenever possible.

7. Advertise to your customers the ways that you are helping the environment and be open to suggestions. You can use a male or female mannequin to help. You can come up with creative ways to use your mannequins and displays to spread the message of saving the earth. It can be something as simple as using a dress mannequin to display your organic cotton or bamboo wear. Their shirts could have positive messages about recycling and using Earth friendly products. You can even post little signs next to their mouths with messages to your customers. Using a mannequin to spread the message is an effective way to spread the word that your boutique is an environmentally friendly one.

About the Author: Ron Maier is the Vice President of S & L Store Fixtures, a leading online resource for retail displays, including mannequins, dress mannequin forms, female mannequins, gridwall and slatwall store fixtures. For more information, please visit http://www.slstoredisplays.com.

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