In the second part of the article, first appeared in our June issue, Ashmit S Alag shares how to put knowledge into practice. Cultivate, create and constantly keep a watch for ever-progressive results:
1: Be consistent. Of course, in an ‘up’ way! Improve your services, product offerings, merchandising and visual merchandising in a gradual upkeep manner. Do not give jolts to the audience. People hate change; we, as humans, are by nature resistant to it. This is psychology, and it is as much relevant to retail as water is to ?sh. Constant upkeep is necessarily a part of this – only consistent brands occupy the mind of the consumer. Predictability brings conformity; yet a little un-predictability is important and evolutionary.
2: Have you applied the principles of lighting from my previous article yet? If you are happy with the results, I would love to hear from you. If not yet, try putting ‘Yellow’ or ‘Amber’ colour lighting on the merchandise and see the merchandise GLOW! Par lamps, QR111s and MR16, all in the halogen family, still dominate the arena. Use white light emitting lamps to open up the space and give a spacious look. White light is also good for bringing energy into the needed areas. So while whitish light can be used for areas to speed up visitor movement, in areas like the corridor, etc., use yellow light to slow them down and to enable better merchandise visibility and focus.
3: Eliminate lesser words like trial room and toilet. Rechristen them changing room, or better still, wardrobing room and restroom, respectively. Cheap words imply cheap. Even if you are a value-store, remember consumers want value, or cost-effective products, not cheap products.
4: Value comes with abundance. You must add or subtract merchandise quantity to make use of this principle. Increase quantity of displayed merchandise to lower the price perception and reduce merchandise to an excessively low quantum to convey exclusivity. Observe the merchandising differences in value-, mid-, premium- and luxury-retailing.
5: Experiment with your visual merchandising. Use it to communicate, entertain and educate. Mannequins have body language. Get a book on the subject and utilise it to generate life and expression in mannequins. Used well, you will be surprised by the results!
6: Foremerging and new stores, watch for the transitional space. It is the space the prospective client walks through: between departments, store-to-store or generally the negative-space area. Improve the space management there. This is the area where a client is oblivious to products or any communication; do not waste anything on that area. Pleasing sound or music gives this transitional area a boost to enable the client cut-off from external nuances or any of their previous experiences.
7: New store renovation must also include customer seating whenever possible. Apparel stores must provide adequate mirrors. As a thumb rule, the size of the mirror increases with the price-point of the merchandise. Remember that for important handbags or footwear – be it in terms of importance (expensive) of price or the occasion the consumer is buying this piece of accessory for – women like to see themselves in full-body mirror. Similarly, when men buy important merchandise or sunglasses, they naturally prefer to look themselves in larger mirrors and not table-top face mirrors. If you have an apparel store, observe that even though we wear all clothes vertically (in the standing position), we are likely to put it ?at on a horizontal table and then review it. The fact is we are not going to lie down in those clothes but that is a strange way Indians observe things. Respect cultural differences and behaviour and reflect their convenience in your store design.
8: Let me now share with you some very useful housekeeping tricks. Use them to save from ‘accidents’ in the retail environment and reduce housekeeping hazards:-When the white light emitting lamp is turning its light into bluish-white, it is time to replace it. The bulb is showing signs of wearing out and can fuse shortly. Similarly, when the yellow light emitting lamp is turning orange, it is a sign that it may die out soon.-Wipe the rods of a shoulder out or any horizontal hanging fixture using butter or wax paper. This will provide a smooth top coating to the rod and allow the hangers to ‘glide’ in place. This is exceptionally helpful when a bunch of hangers are just thrown of the rod – the hangers schematically make their space.-Use an A4 size handy folding-board for folding apparel. This basic tool enables cleaner folds and hence lesser creases on folded merchandise. Insert paper sheets to bring crisp and ?rm contours and shape.