Merchandising Tour: ‘Shopping’ the show

By now, it’s obvious there is much to be learned from exhibits at trade shows -- and Outdoor Retailer showcases some of the best visual merchandising ideas out there. Use these tips to “shop the show” and mine it for ideas that can be replicated in your store in this last installment of the Merchandising Tour series for Summer Market 2010.
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By now, it’s obvious there is much to be learned from exhibits at trade shows -- and Outdoor Retailer showcases some of the best visual merchandising ideas out there. If you have been following the Merchandising Tour articles covering the 2010 Winter Market and Summer Market shows, you have gathered lots of ideas that can make your store a visually more exciting and interesting place.

If, however, you haven’t had the time or inclination to attend one of the tours or read any of the articles --too bad! You are missing a great opportunity to build a portfolio of displays, colors, materials, fixtures and props that you can access when you’re pressed for ways to increase sales.

But all is not lost. You can still reference the Merchandising Tour articles by clicking here, and you can use the suggestions below to make the most of any future trade show you attend.

Atmospherics is a buzzword among visual merchandisers and refers to those elements of the store environment that add dimension and pizzazz. When attending a trade show, take this simple list of what to look for as you observe those elements that create atmosphere and are adaptable to your store.

Color – Pay attention to how color is used on floors, on walls and in displays, and how it interacts with the showcased products. Is the color attention getting, or is it competing with the products? 

Materials – Trade show environments are temporary, so exhibitors use materials that provide aesthetics but can be removed. This can be a boon to a retailer who wants to create a display area for a short time to promote new product offerings. Watch for the use of rubber and carpet tiles and interesting ways companies create walls with ropes, chains and banners.

Displays – Find displays that are easy to re-create and don’t take too much time to set up.

Lighting – Observe how lighting is used effectively and identify what kinds of lighting bring the best results.

Signage – Signs should provide information and persuade people to buy. They need to act as “silent salespeople” when your staff is not on the spot to inform customers. Take a snapshot of the signs you can replicate back in the shop. Or, better yet, if the company is already a supplier of yours, ask your rep about getting the signage for use in your store.

Product presentation – There is a lot to learn from how product hangs on walls, sits on shelves and looks in display cases. Also, be aware of how apparel is layered, and what props are used to accentuate the product and tell a story.

Motion, sound, smell – If exhibitors are using movement via water features, scent machines, computers or videos in their booths, find out how they have accessed the materials and achieved the effects.

To make your search easier, categorize the products on which you will focus. Determine beforehand what products you have the most difficulty displaying, and then spend some time at the show finding ideas for displaying those items. It will allow you to use your time efficiently.

Don’t be afraid to ask exhibitors for permission to take digital photos of their displays. If you can’t find time during show hours to scout ideas, stay a half hour after the show closes to do a quick look. If you do that for the first three show days, you’ll amass a good amount of quality search time.

Trade shows can be hectic, so idea searching may be relegated to the bottom of your to-do list. But if you make finding ideas a priority and a goal, you will find they jump out at you as you walk the aisles. Incorporating fresh new displays will invigorate your store and make it more engaging for customers. Good hunting!

--Sharon Leicham

Would you like to join Sharon Leicham, author of "Merchandising Your Way to Success" and merchandising editor for SNEWS®, during Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2011 for the fourth Outdoor Retailer Merchandising Tour program, co-sponsored by Outdoor Retailer and SNEWS? Currently, we are planning one hour-long merchandising tour of select exhibitor booths and displays designed for retailers and one hour-long merchandising tour focused on the needs of exhibitors. Email merchandisingtour@snewsnet.com to put your name on a contact list for more information and to ensure your name is on the registration list for the next Outdoor Retailer Merchandising Tour Program, Winter Market 2011 -- spaces are limited.

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