By September 29, 2017 Read More →

The joy of merchandising

Gerard Herbert, Sales Director for Super Rod, looks at how merchandising and promotional activities can be a wholesaler’s secret weapon to increase sales and improve the customer experience.

As every wholesaler knows, it’s not enough to simply put products on shelves and expect them to sell themselves. Great customer service and product knowledge can help them fly out the door, but it’s also worth investing some time and effort into merchandising as a cost-effective way to boost sales.

If you take a trip along to your local supermarket, you won’t get past many aisles before you are greeted by some kind of promotional display. Whether it’s a selection of seasonal products, special offer items or free samples, these eye-catching stands are there for one reason only – to attract our attention and encourage us to buy.

And it’s not just supermarkets that are at it. Every selling environment is designed to encourage customers to spend their money and electrical wholesalers should be no different.

The thing is, unlike customers in a supermarket or shopping mall, visitors to an electrical wholesale or distributor branch are not there to relax or unwind – they are there to collect essentials on the way to or from a job site.

They want to come in, easily find the products they need and leave. And this is why merchandising is probably more important in a wholesale environment than anywhere else, as branch staff have such a limited window of opportunity to grab the attention of the customer and interest them in other items or offers.

Grabbing attention

So, how can merchandising help? Well, when it comes to grabbing attention, nothing does it better than a well-planned, branded display stand. Manufacturers such as Super Rod will very often provide promotional materials to wholesalers for free along with suggested layouts to make the most of the slat wall space available.

For us, its win-win to support our wholesale customers as we know our products are being presented in an attractive and eye-catching way, with best-selling items where they are easily found. And for wholesalers, it’s a quick way of improving product displays and making them more engaging for the customer.

Many suppliers provide backing and reorder cards for their merchandising displays to make it easier for wholesalers to keep the display stands fully stocked. Super Rod has a single code which will order everything required for its most popular stock profile to make it even less time consuming when it’s time to restock the shelves too.

As well as products, promotional displays can also feature other items to increase the amount of time the customer will spend looking at it. For example, a holder for the latest product catalogue or literature will stop them for a few extra minutes and may even encourage an additional purchase.

Digital screens

We have recently introduced digital screens for Super Rod displays, which are pre-loaded with promotional videos showing our products in action. This is a great way of demonstrating products and bringing what’s on the shelves to life for the installer.

Merchandising for products shouldn’t be restricted to the slat walls either. Counter top displays are great for encouraging impulse purchases and also perfect for branches where space is limited.

We recently introduced a promotional display unit for our Glo Glider, which would sit neatly on any trade counter or shelving. The sides of the display unit feature FAQs about the product and QR codes as both a prompt for branch staff and extra information for customers. These kinds of displays ensure that if branch staff are busy serving, the opportunity to entice customers to try something new isn’t lost.

While promotional displays require very little input from the wholesaler for maximum impact, it’s worth noting that merchandising should be changed regularly to ensure it doesn’t become tired, dated or unappealing to customers.

New literature

Ask suppliers or manufacturers to provide new literature, branding or layouts to keep things interesting. After all, it’s in their interests to maintain their brand’s visibility in your branch.

In fact, when you start asking around, you’ll find that many suppliers are happy to help promote their products in store. Super Rod set up a Distributor Support Unit (DSU) in 2012 to help our wholesale clients with their merchandising and promotional needs, including helping with display stands and organising in-branch product demonstrations. One of the most important things we deliver through this vehicle, however, is in-house training sessions.

I’ve always found electrical wholesale employees to be knowledgeable and switched on sorts, but even the best trade counter staff struggle to communicate the benefits of a product they have never worked with.

That’s why we offer training (through our DSU) on all of our products, so that branch staff have a better understanding of what’s on the shelf and are therefore better placed to recommend items, demonstrate their expertise to build trust with the customer and, most importantly, clinch the sale. Essentially, your best promotional asset is stood behind the counter.

Think like retailers

To really maximise sales, electrical wholesalers and distributors need to think like retailers and ensure their branch is an engaging place to visit, where customers easily find the products they are looking and also discover a lot of items they weren’t looking for. Merchandising is a great way to achieve this goal with eye-catching displays and promotional events that generate attention and most importantly, increase sales.