15610 Fri, 11/14/2008 - 12:50pm
Several rug vendors have retooled their sample programs recently to give retailers with limited space the tools they need to sell more rugs while making a minimal investment.
Nourison recently introduced its self-service shopping display, The Rug Boutique. In seven linear feet of space, the Boutique can hold up to 94 samples, representing hundreds of SKUs. Retailers who have invested in the system are reporting increased sales, according to Julie Rosenblum, Nourison’s brand manager.
“It’s all about cost, space and return on investment,” Rosenblum said. “It opens the door for specialty stores with limited space and furniture stores that want to generate add-on sales; this is key for them.”
She added that the tool is designed to stimulate sales for these stores while not diminishing sales of rug retailers with more comprehensive rack businesses.
“We don’t want to cannibalize business of the true rug store,” she said. “This should be used for add-on sales.”
The Rug Boutique is designed to make rug shopping as easy as possible by answering any and all questions a consumer might have using visual aids, product descriptions and samples of the rugs themselves.
Photos, Rosenblum said, are particularly helpful in giving consumers ideas on how to choose and place the rugs. The idea behind the illustrations is that a shopper who planned to buy only one area rug may be inspired to purchase a runner or a second rug to complement the first after seeing the room scene illustrated in the photo.
Nourison also adds that the display is inexpensive, especially compared with the cost of setting up a full rack display and can be easily be tailored to retailers’ unique needs. Retailers can then refresh their assortment periodically by changing out the samples and replacing them with new ones.
“We give all the necessary tools to support both the customer and the design consultant in closing their sale,” Rosenblum said.
Nourison is certainly not alone in its efforts to offer retailers improved marketing and merchandising tools. Feizy Rugs recently revamped its Designer Series Sample Program to be easier to use and to offer an expanded assortment compared with the rack system’s original incarnation.
Feizy’s display is available as a one-, two- or three-rack system, with each rack showcasing either 12 or 24 18-by-18-inch samples. They include interchangeable signage that the company’s marketing department periodically updates. The 12-slot rack also displays the Feizy Home Catalogue. Betsy Holotik, director of national sales for Feizy, said the program has been well received by retailers.
Vendors’ efforts to improve marketing and sales tools for retailers are largely in response to the challenges of the day, sources said.
Kami Navid, Jaunty Rugs’ executive vice president of sales, said the company’s rug marketing system was designed years ago with possible economic challenges in mind.
“In the fifth year of a 10-year marketing plan we inserted a ‘what if’ section that addressed a possible downturn in business,” he said. “For that reason, we introduced the highly successful Showtime area rug marketing system that requires a small upfront investment on the part of the retailer without having to buy thousands in rug inventories.”
Holotik concurred that a sample program is a particularly invaluable tool during hard times when many vendors are choosing not to incur the expenses involved in going to market.
“If we were a lamp or art line, this might not affect us. However, our product is one that the customer needs to touch and feel,” she said. “It is because of this that we have introduced the Designer Series. Now a customer can purchase a sample size of our product, allowing them to get the full understanding of the product.” — Jennifer Alexis