Inspire Consumers By Taking A New Approach To Merchandising

greg sleterSo, what’s new?

For the sake of this column, the question is posed rhetorically. (But if you do want to answer, feel free to e-mail me: [email protected])

The long history of the housewares business has revolved largely around a simple thought process. Retailers want new and product suppliers are happy to show retailers what is new.

While that line of thinking still applies, the current hyper-competitive marketplace requires retailers to do business differently. Simply repeating what was done yesterday will not be good enough for tomorrow.

In recent weeks as I visited the spring New York Tabletop Market and walked the aisles of various retailers researching for HomeWorld’s annual Home Beverage Report a few things caught my eye.

Tableware suppliers continue to develop new products and merchandising concepts that retailers, with minimal effort, can easily incorporate into stores. Consumers may not need new dinnerware, glassware or flatware, but a properly merchandised assortment in store can inspire a shopper.

But a different thought process is needed.

Take down the shelving and get rid of tired presentations in stores and develop table settings on, well, tables. Think of the cross-merchandising opportunities. Dishes, glasses, flatware, table linens, candles and serveware all sold by the retailer and sitting neatly on a table that is also sold by the same retailer.

Imagine the possibilities!

And there is also something brewing with coffee, perhaps the most important beverage to Americans this side of a quality cabernet.

The continued evolution of craft coffee has spurred demand for a host of electric and non-electric coffeemakers that allow consumers to make various coffee styles at home.

Here, too, a different thought process is needed.

Retailers need to bring together their entire assortments of electric and non-electric coffeemakers to make a bold statement and entice add-on sales. A growing number of consumers today are willing to purchase more than one coffeemaker as part of a desire to make different styles of coffee depending on the time of day or the day of the week.

Maybe it’s the convenience of single-serve in the morning. Espresso or cappuccino in the evening or when entertaining friends. Perhaps a French press on the weekends. Consumers are showing a willingness to invest in more than one coffeemaker. Make it easy for them to do so.

But retailers also need to do more than just put new coffee products on the shelves. In-store demos that show consumers how a product works and allows them to have a taste will undoubtedly create a buzz.

Think Vitamix and Costco.

Many Costco members had no idea they wanted to spend more than $300 on a blender. But seeing the item in person, and tasting the beverage made, led to a large number of Vitamix blenders passing through the registers.