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Potato Chips

Is your sales floor arranged like a bag of potato chips?

For years, we all ate potato chips in the same way. The chips came in a plastic bag that had some kind of lining that aided in keeping the chips fresh. Over the years, the only change that occurred with this snack food was that someone found a way to flavor the chips.

Within a short period of time, you could get chips that had the flavor of barbecue, sour cream, pizza, and any number of other tastes as chip manufacturers found a way to create artificial flavorings that could duplicate the original food taste.

As you ate your potato chips, there was always one drawback. As you got to the bottom of the bag, the chips got smaller and smaller until the bottom of the bag was nothing more than tiny pieces that you could more easily eat by using a large spoon instead of your fingers. The bag gave you somewhat of an indication of this with the message, "Bag is sold by weight and not by volume. Some settling may have occurred."

Then one day, another producer of potato chips had a new idea. If the chips were shaped alike and packaged accordingly, you could get the chips into a smaller container, and have less breakage. Today, you know these potato chips as Pringles.

What do potato chips have in common with the pool and spa business? Let's take a look at the sales floor to find a comparison. As you think about the sales floor of some of the other pool and spa supply stores you have visited, you have undoubtedly seen some that have wowed you over. You probably wished that you had a sales floor that was identical to the one you have just seen. You might see a strong similarity between the sales floor and the can of Pringles; neat, orderly, and with little mess.

Likewise, you have seen some sales floors that look a lot like the traditional bags of potato chips; everything just thrown into the building with no specific design. It has been shown that the sales floor that has been arranged like the can of Pringles has many advantages. Among those advantages are, increased sales per square foot, increased average sale, increased margin, and increased impulse sales. These are the things that make cash registers go, "cha-ching" and make bottom lines of financial statements look better.

If the idea of a sales floor that looks more like a can of Pringles than looking like a bag of chips is appealing to you, there are several ways to accomplish this. The first is to take note of chain stores. Undoubtedly, you have been in one where you have seen taped to a counter what looks like a map of a display or a run of fixtures.

This map is the floor plan given to each store to tell their sales staff how to build the display. If you look closely at the map, you will see that it is usually detailed down to each and every square inch. This is done so almost any staff member can execute the building of the display.

If you are the owner or manager of a lesser quantity of stores, you don't have the advantage of someone providing you with this map. You can however create a good looking and great selling sales floor without hiring a store designer and with the help of these ideas.

Beginning with the front door, think about how often you would expect a customer to visit your sales floor. In season, most people would say once each week. If this is the case, that customer needs to see something different each time they enter. A rack, table, or free standing display that changes each week builds a sense of excitement and invites the customer to see what else is new.

While we are looking at the front entrance, take a moment to determine what item you would like customers to purchase. Probably, it is something that makes a good margin or sizable dollar contribution to your store's profitability. This item needs to be placed on the right as the customer enters as this is where customer's first look. If you feel the need to place a cash register at the front, do so on the left side.

As we get past the initial impression, this is where we want to create our road map. One of the ways we accomplished this was to create an actual map drawn to scale. The aisles need to be sized so that customers going in opposite directions will not bump into each other. If you have shopping carts, or hand baskets, your aisles need to be even wider to accommodate them as well. Research has shown that customers will not enter an aisle if they cannot easily see a way to make their way through it.

Imagine your aisles becoming an interstate along with some minor highways. Customers will follow the roadway much in the same way they drive - to the right. They will also follow in the direction you lead them if the road is designed correctly. Then the minor highways are your roadways to all of the various sections, and corners of your sales floor.

Speaking of corners, you do not want to ever walk your customers into a corner. When a customer goes to the end of an aisle, they need to have at least two choices when deciding where to go. If their only choice is to turn around and go back, you will find yourself developing "aisle clutter" with customers avoiding the aisle all together.

While we have all utilized end caps to get a customer's attention, think about end caps being in more places than just at the end of a counter. If you have a 40' run of wall fixtures, you can create an end cap anywhere along the wall by adding a flood light, and painting the backdrop a different color. Think of each end cap as becoming a magnet to draw a customer from one point to another throughout your business.

The last area we want to address is the actual display counter. Again, we want to ask you to think about the product you want to sell. These items need to be displayed at eye level for the average height customer. And all items should be displayed vertically instead of horizontally. Why?

Have you ever had a customer ask if you stock a particular size of chlorine? Only to show the customer that the container they are looking for is on the bottom shelf? This happens because we are trained to look left to right when we are looking at a display; much like you are doing in looking at this article.

If you are not convinced, try merchandising vertically on just one area of your sales floor. If you are having four facings of a product, instead of having the four side by side, have them arranged top to bottom, and see how the sales of the item which had previously been shown exclusively on the bottom shelf now has a substantial sales increase.

Place add on sale items nearby, as well as related items within arms length of each other. Items that would be considered accessories, or those having very low margins, should have secondary consideration in your selection of placement on your sales floor.

Most sales floors that are very profitable have not been arranged by accident. They bear little resemblance to the bag of potato chips. Instead, the most profitable businesses are arranged like the can of Pringles.

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This article is copyrighted by Tom Shay and Profits Plus Solutions, who can be reached at: PO Box 1577, St. Petersburg, Fl. 33731. Phone 727-464-2182. It may be printed for an individual to read, but not duplicated or distributed without expressed written consent of the copyright owner.

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Profits Plus Solutions, Inc.
PO Box 1577
St. Petersburg, Fl 33731
(727) 464-2182
Fax: (727) 898-3179