Summertime is often a slower time for many businesses. It’s a time to prepare for the busy fall and holiday selling season, and a time to evaluate your profits and business strategies. Your plan should include working with the right suppliers and vendors and making sure you have the right floor design to maximize sales. Here are some questions and tips on choosing or retaining your store fixtures supplier.
Do you have local inventory? If you need fixtures in a hurry, or simply don’t want to wait for that extra gondola shelving unit to come in, it helps if your supplier carries inventory locally. You save on time and shipping expenses.
Do you deliver? Most fixture suppliers will deliver, but make sure they don’t just drop it at your loading dock and leave. Your new fixtures should be handled with kid-glove care, assembled accurately and efficiently and placed in their designated spots on the store floor or in your inventory room until ready to move onto the showroom floor. Customer service should extend all the way to the destination.
Do you carry used merchandise? Sometimes newer isn’t better. If you’re finding yourself short on budget dollars but need a new look in your store, consider gently used fixtures. Just be vigilant in checking for safety and wear and tear and don’t buy any compromised pieces.
Do you have a floor designer on staff? Good design is 90 percent of the equation for a successful retail store. If customers see “Grab and Go” bins while waiting in the check-out lane or end cap displays with great product deals, they are more likely to buy. Designing the store floor to get the maximum traffic in the right places and to move inventory should be a part of your business plan. In addition, designing to maximize the space size-wise is also important. Use your high walls and ceiling space wherever possible and make every display a strategically placed story.
What is your return policy? There should be one, and it should be clearly stated. If there are no returns, you may want to think twice about doing business with this supplier – you want to have the flexibility if your choices don’t work out.
What are your best sellers? The answer to this question will not only demonstrate the type of business the vendor values, it will give you some ideas for using fixtures in different ways. If the best sellers are hooks and grid wall, you can conclude that the supplier is selling a lot of product to a lot of customers to remain profitable. If, on the other hand, the best sellers are gondola shelves and display cases, the more expensive items are top on his list.
Do you have a minimum order or incentive to buy? Some fixture suppliers require a minimum dollar amount be spent before doing business with you. If you are a small business owner, these stipulations may not be conducive to your business.
Do you have a customer loyalty program? You should become part of a loyalty program and know its perks and advantages.
Do you have seasonal sales and how are they communicated? Be sure the supplier knows whether or not you’re interested in sales and how you’d like to be alerted to them.
What do you do with your customer data? Always be sure you know the uses of your name, company name, finance information, etc. If you don’t like what you hear, find another vendor who respects your privacy.