Stratagems For Success
Effective merchandising stratagems that both St. Germain and Guidry employ in their businesses include:
- Keep it simple. Make the wares easy to see and understand. Use a single easily readable font for all signage. Avoid clutter.
- Messaging: Everything is easy. Ease-of-use is the number one consideration in the eyes of most customers.
- Focus on benefits as the customer experiences them. Don’t hype features or technological advances. Avoid jargon.
- Maintain consistency in presentation and décor. Tables, chairs, display infrastructure, etc. should be uniform. Mismatched furnishings make an environment look chaotic and unplanned. St. Germain chose a trendy line of aluminum grey metal furniture for Concord Camera’s self-service kiosks.
- Choose fashionable colors. This is the best way to achieve a contemporary look that energizes customers and makes them identify with the store. Mimic successful retailers’ color schemes or visit www.pantone.com for inspiration. The right colors on walls and in carpeting can influence people to buy new products more often.
- Cleanliness is critical. If the store is as clean as a Hallmarks, customers—especially women—will be impressed. If not ...
- Make traffic flow easily. Every aisle in the store should be wide enough for a double-wide baby stroller.
- Small touches count. In particular, flowers and plants are an effective and inexpensive way to appeal to your most valued customers. Even silk plants can improve the comfort level. A eucalyptus bouquet, replaced every few months, can mask photo chemical odors.
- Provide amenities. Setting up a table and the right equipment for beverage self-service—coffee, tea, bottled water — is inexpensive and low-maintenance, and encourages customers to remain in the store. Keep Etch-a-Sketches, Legos, crayons, coloring books, etc. on hand for children to occupy themselves with while their parents are shopping or working at a kiosk. “We call it our ‘Mommy Center’ and it’s one of the things that differentiates us from mass market photo processors,” says Guidry.
- Pay attention to customers without pressuring them. Educate your staff that it’s not necessary to descend on a customer when they walk in. Rather, make eye contact, greet them and acknowledge their presence. If a customer walks up to a kiosk, find out if they’ve used it before. If so, leave them alone and invite them to ask questions if they have any; if not, offer to introduce them to it. In all cases, let the customer operate the kiosk themselves unless they ask for assistance—that’s how they learn and take ownership of their images, with the likely result that they will come back more often.
- Observe your customers and learn from them. Often, by their actions, they let you know what they need. “We don’t have customers sitting on the floor anymore with their pictures spread out around them now that we’ve installed park benches in a well-lit area,” says St. Germain.
Much of the emphasis in these pointers is to make a photo retailer’s store attractive and comfortable to women. But, St. Germain says, don’t worry that male customers might be put off. “Creating an affinity with your female customers won’t cause you to lose male customers. We’re finding that men continue to be strong purchasers particularly of our more technical and high-end product offerings.”