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The power of great POP PDF Print E-mail
Written by Alixe MacRae   

ImageDuring last month's Canadian Home Furnishings Market, almost every vendor I spoke with complained about the lack of attentive, informed and caring sales consultants on retail sales floors. For some, it's not usual to walk a retail floor for 40 minutes or more without a simple acknowledgement.

With squeezed margins across every product category and a dearth of people who want to - or are even willing to - work retail hours, this situation is only going to get worse. Complicating an already difficult human resource problem is the consumer, who is becoming more and more likely to buy online every day - especially when she can't get professional help when she visits the store.

So, presuming that the majority of well-informed, intelligent consumers will actually want to sit on the product before placing the order; what would you do if every sales consultant on your floor retired (or resigned) tomorrow? Pulling the covers over your head is not an option. Even if a few decide to stay on; how to you make them feel smart enough to sell your product easily?

The effective use of POP (point of purchase) information is the key but the trick is to learn what is great - and actually helps the customer - and what is just an added expense.

Consider what one smart manufacturer does: put all vendor POP online. The advantages are easily identified: it can be printed on demand (with a carefully crafted password); it's always available without the high cost of tear sheets; and, the retailer can print it, laminate it or place it in a sign holder.

Give basic information: including, product dimensions, expected delivery times and financing options. Ask the customer what she needs need to know and then incorporate her answers into the POP presentation.

Highlight benefits, not features. A full-extension drawer is easier access; a five-step finish is protection against water damage; better upholstery construction is greater comfort and longer product life; and a range of 20 finishes allows the consumer to match (or coordinate) the finish with their current possessions.

Make the signage easy to read. Your customer is getting older and more myopic.  If they have to fumble for glasses, your signage will not get read.

Make your signage easy to understand. Bafflegab is just plain dumb. Your POP material should be written at a grade six level. If your kid (or grandkid) doesn't get it, change it.

Design the signage so that it doesn't block the product. Signage that hangs over the product or sits adjacent to it is ideal. If it has to be moved to see the finish or sit down; rework it.

Ensure the signage doesn't damage the product. Glued plastic sleeves can mar the finish on a case goods piece. Scratchy sign holders can damage finishes as well. Take the time to visit other retailers - such as Crate & Barrel or IKEA - and learn from how they treat their signage and other POP materials.

Create something that can be changed without a crane. Easy is inexpensive in the retail world.

Don't be afraid of pricing. A customer will always presume the worst. If there is a range consider posting ‘from/to' information. Then the customer can decide whether the lower price is within her range. If the customer needs to ask a follow-up question on price, its your opportunity to open a dialogue with her.

Remember, this signage is for either the sales consultant or the customer. If the sales consultant is confident; they'll rush to your product. If they feel ignorant; they'll avoid your product.

Great POP and signage is the hallmark of almost every great retailer - whether that merchant is selling furniture, mattresses and appliances or t-shirts. The other key general rule is always to be respectful of the customer.

Don't whine. Solve the problem. It's your - own it.

A regular contributor to Home Goods Online, Alixe MacRae is one of this country's best known merchandisers, having held senior positions at a variety of well-known Canadian retailers including Stoney Creek Furniture, Sears Canada and The Bay. She recently started her own business Concierge Relocation (www.conciergerelocation.com). Her company specializes in move management, especially for those dramatically downsizing seniors and their overwhelmed children.

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