If first impressions are everything, helping your customers find what they need quickly comes in a close second. And in a welding store, where inventory includes not only the big equipment but also lots and lots (and lots) of accessories and small parts, creating an easy navigation system can pose a challenge.
Before you dig into the details, however, it’s important to take a step back and think about your customers, and how they shop. Here are some questions to get you started:
- Are they experienced skilled workers who know exactly what they need?
- Are they brand-loyal, or always on the lookout for the best price?
- How much is the typical spend?
- What are the most commonly sold items?
- Are there items that everyone asks for but no one can find?
- When they come into the store, what path do they take (ie., do they go to the right or left first?)
Having a clear understanding of what your customers need, as well as their pain points, can help you determine a layout that will make their experience best-in-class. You can take several approaches:
Overall Display Approaches
Solution-Based: Group equipment and all of its accessories and parts in one place, with clear signs calling out each product category. For example, someone looking for a MIG welder will find torch choices and all compatible consumables and parts in one section.
Budget-Based: If your customers are budget-conscious, consider a good/better/best approach that groups products by value. Make each grouping of product easy to find via clear color-coding and signage. With this setup, it’s important to clearly state part compatibility.
Brand-Based: Allow individual brands to group their products, centered around eye-catching displays with big logos that make it easy for brand-loyalists to find what they need. This is also a good opportunity for some extra cash flow by allowing individual brands to purchase additional feature space.
What to do with the misc?
Even the smartest, most streamlined setup will still leave you with some miscellaneous products that don’t fit into the layout. In this case, consider a combination merchandising strategy where the main parts are solution-based, but the misc. parts are sorted by brand or budget. Consider displaying related apparel (both work-related/PPE and branded apparel) in their own section that looks more like a clothing store.
If a display is working well, don’t change it. If the dump bins you’ve set up near the register get emptied on the regular, keep them there — and keep them full.
6 TIPS TO MERCHANDISE INDUSTRIAL EQUIPMENT
Making your store easy to navigate will make your customers happy. Bringing in that little extra touch will make them tell their friends. These best-in-class examples can turn it up a notch:
- Hang TV screens that play how-to videos, and maybe even a few that are just tuned to a favorite channel or sports event.
- Turn up the lights so the store is bright, friendly and inviting
- Include digital part finders for an easy, space-saving way for customers to find their parts
- Display accessories and parts on 4-foot sections to mimic a retail store
- If possible, set up a safe, well-ventilated area for customers to test your tools
- Consider a special section of “online best-sellers” to integrate your physical location with your digital store
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