Retail Guru – Image Matters

    Paul Sanders, retail designer and consultant to shop fitters Millerbrown, explains that there are simple measures club professionals can take to ensure their pro shop attracts business, and not repel it…

    It’s a simple fact that a cluttered, disorganised shop will sell less than a tidy, well merchandised shop. And most probably quite a lot less.

    The benefits of any well-organised business are subliminal to most of us – and we’re not really aware of the brand conditioning that has taken place at considerable cost over many years when we walk into a well-known retail store, restaurant or even a hotel. But the conditioning is there and it develops within all of us a level of expectation – and we are disappointed if those levels aren’t met.

    In an independently-run shop, customers don’t have any corporate pre-conditioning so they base their expectations on key factors that stand out as soon as they enter a shop, such as overall image, product ranges, standards of display and tidiness. These factors will substantially affect both impulse and demand sales – and in a shop that customers visit regularly, like the pro shop at their own club, members will form a view about it which, if negative, becomes increasingly hard to shake off without some major changes being made. The end result is that, in real terms, the shop never really makes any commercial progress and in all too many cases the turnover will flat-line. After taking inflation into account, this means a reduction in turnover.

    Keeping a shop looking sharp is not difficult; it’s more about attention to detail. Most of the effort will usually centre round doing a little tidying and re-organising every day to stay on top of constantly arriving stock, and putting back straight what customers move about, so that the shop doesn’t slowly become more and more cluttered.

    Millerbrown floorplan
    Ebb and flow: Millerbrown estimates that 70% of pro shops in the UK are either square or rectangular, and here is a sug­gested layout for the typical shop, illustrating how custom­ers can be encouraged to visit different areas of the retail space, and how product categories are merchandised in clearly defined areas
    Simple Steps to Success

    1. Group products logically – Keeping similar products together helps customers to not only find the things they’re looking for but will also encourage more impulse sales.

    2. Think carefully about maximum stock levels. Most pro shops are limited on space so, displaying too many bags, for example, just because there was a small quantity discount on offer when they were bought, might actually end up costing the business a lot more than the saving, because other products can’t be displayed to best effect, resulting in lower sales overall.

    3. Create themes within textile areas, so that colours grade up or down within each section – and keep coordinating colours and styles together. Themes work because they appeal to our subconscious ‘image radar’ – and they make it easier for us to imagine ourselves wearing the clothes, so are therefore more likely to buy.

    4. Change the front garments of all your textile displays once a week. Most golfers visit the same clubs on a regular basis, and if the display looks much the same on each visit the shop display becomes like wallpaper

    5. Don’t clutter footwear displays with point of sale material on every shoe. Most pros never read this, let alone customers, and it creates a visual clutter which prevents individual shoes from catching a customer’s eye. Manufacturer’s only supply this material to influence the shoe purchase decision towards their brand – your objective is to just sell the customer a pair of shoes, and visual clutter makes the whole footwear offer less appealing.

    6. Keep the shop tidy. A tried and tested discipline is a ‘clear floor’ policy which simply dictates that before the staff go home each day, all deliveries and merchandise that has ended up out of place during the day should be cleared away, and displays freshened up so that the shop looks clean and tidy for the start of the next day. Professional high street retailers all do it and, once staff realise you mean it, you’ll be amazed how much tidier the shop stays – because they all want to go home on time!

    7. Change all your light bulbs. Most pro shops that I visit are not well lit – often a legacy from when the shop was built and with the wrong lights having been specified originally. If you have fluorescent lighting in your shop you can make an instant improvement, because the chances are that many of the bulbs will be more than 3 years old, and therefore their output will have slowly reduced by at least 25 to 30% from when they were new.