Merchandising Tour: Making fixtures sized to fit hard-to-display products

It is not always easy to find the right fixture for a particular product, at the right price and in the right size. Cost is another consideration – fixtures can be expensive especially if they are custom made. Take a hint from Crumpler...
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What does the term "added value" mean to you? Add-on sales? Better customer service? Increased margins? For those in visual merchandising, it means the sell-through that is achieved through the art of display. Well-conceived product presentations sell merchandise. It's a fact. And one of the best places to get visual merchandising ideas is at trade shows.

This year's Outdoor Retailer Summer Market featured a series of visual merchandising tours of exhibitor booths, sponsored by Outdoor Retailer, pointing out the product displays that could easily be translated in the retail store. In this series of Merchandising Tour columns, we discuss the best ideas found during the tours, why they captured our attention, and how to adapt them to the retail environment. The ideas apply to a broad range of products, companies, brands and segments, too.

There's also something in this for you, our readers. We want to know how you applied tips and suggestions from our Merchandising Tour article series in your own store. Send SNEWS® your images and a paragraph or two explaining what you did, and you'll be entered in a contest to win free lodging at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2010.

The Crumpler booth at any Outdoor Retailer trade show is typically not one to be missed. At the 2009 Summer Market show, Crumpler attracted attention with its outside walls covered in black and white illustrations of medieval buildings. But it was the shelving fixtures inside the booth that attracted the attention of the merchandising tour participants and generated some creative thinking.

It is not always easy to find the right fixture for a particular product, at the right price and in the right size. Cost is another consideration – fixtures can be expensive, especially if they are custom made. Take a hint from Crumpler and construct your own

The fixture in question was freestanding and about 7 feet high. It consisted of two see-through shelves with the base of the fixture acting as a third shelf to accommodate the company’s duffel bag assortment. The sidewalls were approximately 2.5 feet wide.

The fixture was completely covered with the same black and white illustrations found on the outside booth walls. It was made all the more interesting by the treatment of the tops of the fixture walls. Instead of being squared off as expected, they were cut to outline the building tops in the illustrations (see the accompanying photo). The fixture was simple, effective, lightweight and easy to produce.

There are a number of materials that could be used to construct a similar fixture – plywood and particle board come to mind, but both would result in a heavy fixture that could not be easily moved. Instead, consider used Gatorfoam board. Gatorfoam foam board is the premier choice for mounting, exhibits and signs. It is lightweight and has the strength, rigidity and warp resistance required for a durable fixture. It comes plain or paint ready. There is self-adhesive Gatorfoam foam board that might be handy if you consider mounting graphics over the entire surface.

The size of the fixture could be reduced or expanded depending on space and the product to be displayed. It could be painted or covered with topo maps for an outdoor look with the fixture top cut to resemble a mountain range. If using it for travel packs or duffels, travel posters or brochures could cover the sides and be used in combination with paint. The sky’s the limit when it comes to constructing your own custom fixture.

The same fixture could be used to spice up a wall. I once saw a store in which slatwall was fastened a few inches away from the wall to allow for back lighting and topped with a mountain scape cut from the slatwall top. It was very effective. So, with a little effort, the same effect could be achieved with a series of freestanding shelving units like Crumpler’s in four-foot wide sections separated by hang rods. It would create an interesting, modular and efficient wall presentation.

Please join us for the merchandising tours sponsored by SNEWS at the upcoming Outdoor Retailer Winter Market. Display ideas are everywhere if you’re tuned into looking for them, and the show is one of the best places to see how the products you are bringing in for the next season are presented. See you in Salt Lake City!

Join Sharon Leicham, author of "Merchandising Your Way to Success" and merchandising editor for SNEWS®, during Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2010 for the second Outdoor Retailer Merchandising Tour program, co-sponsored by Outdoor Retailer and SNEWS. These hour-long merchandising tours of select exhibitor booths and displays give retailers an unprecedented opportunity to tap into Leicham's 40 years of experience in merchandising with manufacturers such as Specialized Bicycle Components and Sierra Designs. Email merchandisingtour@snewsnet.com to put your name on a contact list for more information and priority scheduling for the Outdoor Retailer Merchandising Tours, Winter Market 2010 -- spaces are limited.

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