Less can mean more on the sales floor

Updated Jan 28, 2016

The counter seats, the clutter and the banners have got to go.

That was just some of the advice offered by marketing expert Butch Hill this week at Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week (HDAW) 2016 in Las Vegas.

Hill, president and owner of HD Group, explained Tuesday that an effective sales floor demands attention that will pay-off handsomely in the long-run.

“This is not rocket science,” Hill announced from the stage. “What I’m telling you is 100 percent merchandising basics.”

Those basics include keeping the store clean, arranging products by category, replacing burned-out lights, moving product around periodically, front-facing shelves, creating a floor plan that improves browsing and placing prices on products.

The idea of pricing, however, has not always gone over well with Hill’s clients.

“I get pushback in this industry all the time about this,” Hill explained. “But every time they’re like, ‘It’s amazing.’”

Hill said neglecting to price product is a customer turn-off. He challenged audience members to think about what it would be like to shop at a grocery store that posted no prices.

Making the most of impulse buys and endcap displays is key to generating more sales, Hill said. Rearranging shelves so that customers avoid making a bee-line to the counter, and instead have to take the scenic route among the store’s shelves—in particular high-selling seasonal items—will fill-up the cash register faster.

“Is it our job is to make them go right to the counter?” Hill asked. “It’s our job is to get the impulse buys.”

Hill recalled a client who rearranged his store to increase sales for impulse items.

“He increased his sales $1,200 a day,” Hill said. “He said he couldn’t believe how much money he had been leaving on the table for years.”

Endcaps, which Hill said generate most sales, could become even more profitable if organized correctly. Items that sell the most should be arranged on the right side of the endcap.

“We read books from left to right and when it comes to shopping we do the same thing,” Hill explained. “It’s a little technique that you’ve probably never heard of, but it works.”

Though barstools are synonymous with parts counters, Hill said customers have a tendency to sit too long and slow down sales, so they need to go. Large banners hanging from ceilings and walls also need to go because they can create a cluttered look and take up space that could be used to display more product.

“Less is sometimes best,” Hill said. “How many people come into the store, look up at the wall and say, ‘I think I need that brand today.’? Keep it clean.”

Space for merchandise should be reserved from the floor to nine feet up. After that, the goal is to keep customers moving among the merchandise.

Taking away stools is one way to get customers to move-out among the shelves. Another way is to place coffee and snacks in the opposite corner of the parts counter. As customers make their way to the coffee, they’ll see more products along the way. Using smaller cups can also invite more return visits to the coffee pot and thus more exposure to product.

Once an item catches a customer’s eye, it’s important that other similar products are placed next to it. For instance, Hill said windshield wiper fluid should be placed next to windshield wiper blades. Product placement like that can help remind customers what they need to buy.

“It’s all about the impulse sale,” Hill said. “And you’ve got two-tenths of a second to make that decision.”

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