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Viewpoint from Will Jones

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It’s official: Visual merchandising can virtually double sales.

Viewpoint from Will Jones, housewares sector director of BHETA.

The most recent BHETA housewares committee meeting took place at the Wedgwood factory and museum in Barlaston, Stoke on Trent, which was a treat for all concerned.  Housewares committee meetings always provide a platform for cross-fertilisation of ideas between different categories in the overall housewares and small domestic electricals markets and this one was no different.  In fact, it sparked a very enlightening discussion on a fact which I think we all know to be true, but which can be hard for many retailers and suppliers to quantify – the positive impact which a commitment to visual merchandising can make on sales.

Now I would argue that the creation of visual stimulation and instore experience for customers – as opposed to simply having product on shelves or fixtures – will encourage spend whatever the product.  The demonstration of just how well a purely functional piece of kitchen equipment works in practice – chopping, dicing, cleaning, grilling food or grinding coffee – will always attract the shopper and provoke the impulse buy.  It can also be a great way of upselling to a brand with better margins, cross-selling with related products, or pushing some add-on accessories.

Talking to my colleagues on the committee however, it transpired that one leading housewares supplier has been looking in detail at the sales potential of devoting more retail display space, as opposed to just shelf space, to static as opposed to demonstration items such as crockery, cutlery, glassware and table linen.  In other words, it was a debate about how to develop a greater volume of sales from tableware where the strongest consumer ‘sell’ is in their decorative and lifestyle value.  Given that the company concerned has brands which span kitchen tools, fine china and crystal to mention just a few, its findings seem well worth sharing with the housewares community in general.

It seems that whatever the lifestyle promise – casual dining, fine dining, family, formal or mix n match, whether a premium or mass market brand and whatever the trend, style or colour, a fully dressed, set and styled table display can drive sales up by a staggering 93%.  This compelling figure is based on data from a properly monitored comparison of an equivalent amount of table display and shelf space.

In tableware, while the consumer may consider the substrate of the bowl or the process used to achieve a particular finish on a fork or spoon if it is explained to them, the real decision making factor is the design, the fashion, the colour or the texture that goes into achieving the overall look.  And the overall look can only be appreciated properly when it has been set out to entice – on a table.  Of course, this overall look plays an important part in kitchenware too, but there it is the feel, weight, space and efficiency ratios that clinch the deal.

The crucial factor in all of this is that both suppliers and retail buyers are fully aware of the style trends which will drive consumer taste in good time to exploit them whether on a dining table or in a demonstration kitchen.  This is why BHETA invests such a lot of effort into making sure trend forecasting is communicated, taken seriously and used in a timely manner, as our preferred trend forecasters, Scarlet Opus predict the colours, materials, textures, patterns and cultural or scientific developments which will influence shoppers over the next 18 months to two years.

For anyone who missed Exclusively this year, we should all be taking account of four key trends:

  1. the influence of Japanese arts, crafts, design, food and traditions and all they teach us about restraint and living in the moment
  2. the reuse of waste materials and the influence of recycling and the environment
  3. the power of the collective – working together globally, celebrating cultural diversity and placing ethics at the centre of decision making
  4. understated glamour, dark wood, marble, brass, exquisite glassware, statement pieces, Art Deco and, of course, beautifully laid tables…

So, for any retailer who has doubts about investing precious space in the visual impact of the display and the demo, a 93% upturn is a pretty good reason to eradicate such doubts, persuade the doubters and just do it.  Equally, for any supplier who is not prepared to do their utmost to assist the retailer in delivering on visual merchandising, then it’s time to change strategy.  We all need the sales and they are not going to be handed to us without effort.  So, it is very reassuring to know that the rewards can be so high.

Further information about BHETA’s events programme contact the BHETA Member Services Team on 0121 237 1130.

Source: BHETA

31 July 2019

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