Getting Back to an In-Store Focus: Is Your Merchandising Right For New Homeowners?

Posted by Loren Heinzeroth

April 20, 2021 at 8:45 AM

As consumers return in greater numbers to physical retail shopping, DIY in-store merchandising may be due for a tune-up in many categories. Thinking post-COVID if possible, we should ask ourselves if what worked in previous planograms and point-of-purchase messaging is still effective, particularly with consumers that are new to projects involving our products. Following are 3 thought starters for changes you can make to convert more sales and grow your business with new homeowners, a group that is also leading the way with new expectations about the shopping experience.

We've had a year in which online shopping, curbside pickup and other changes have set a broad new pattern that is expected to stay in place and continue growing, even as more shoppers venture back into the stores.

Consumers are becoming more trusting of retail safety yet still wish to minimize the time they spend in the aisle whenever possible. In-store dwell times dropped as much as 50% in 2020. It's apparent that consumers are comfortable with many of the behavioral changes they were forced to make. Some of those changes will have lasting impact on P-O-P moving forward. 

See our free guide, "How to Prepare for a Product Line Review."

1. Link QR codes to videos to answer customer questions on the spot.

Placement: Shelf Strips, Packaging, Aisle Signs, Top Signs

It seems that with less interaction wanted or expected between store associates and shoppers, the more our in-store content needs to provide quick, self-serve answers to questions that naturally arise. With QR codes on your packaging and signage, customers can scan the codes with their phones and view short videos hosted on YouTube, Vimeo or your website to learn how your products are installed and used. Other potential video content might provide guidance about product selections, quality choices, related products needed and other matters that encourage conversion and larger transaction size. The process of scanning a code is touchless, too.

When set up properly with tracking, QR codes can also provide useful insights about your customers' interests and buying patterns. Another benefit: Customers can continue to view the videos after purchase to review that same content and improve their overall satisfaction with your brand.

2. Speed product selection with more visual cues.

Placement: Packaging, Bin Strips, Shelf Strips

Of course, it's always been important to make it easy for shoppers to select your products, whether your merchandising focus is on good-better-best differentiation, upselling from competitive lines, conveying more specific information such as sizes, types, etc., or all of the above. Still, for today's time-sensitive shoppers, particularly those that aren't familiar with your products, it's more critical than ever to make your presentation crystal clear and less confusing. Perhaps a refresh is in order.

Consider these options to make your brand clearer for new customers.

  • Color coding of product types – tied together on packages, bin boxes, shelf strips and headers
  • Larger, easier-to-read fonts for product names
  • Packaging that is cleaner in design and focused on primary selection criteria
  • Clear image of the product if it is concealed in the package
  • Combo packs or kits that simplify multi-item purchases along with offering value
  • Displays with mounted samples that can be inspected easily
  • Tear pads with shopping lists for popular projects requiring multiple items

3. Refine messaging for the "one-and-done" buyers.

Placement: Packaging, Top Signs, Take-Home Brochures & Guides

One positive outcome of the past year's unprecedented growth in DIY sales has been the infusion of first-time home buyers affecting nearly every hardware/home improvement category. They have bought new as well as existing homes in record numbers, spurring projects of all types. One thing we know is that millennials and Gen-Zers, most of whom have little or no experience with such a wide spectrum of home projects, tend to do more online research, place a high value on reviews and also share their experiences on social media.

So, obviously, you must make sure your online content is in order and authentic. Be certain too that you are using available tools such as web forms and marketing automation to engage new users at each stage of the purchase journey. Also, not to be forgotten as in-store traffic comes back is how your messaging resonates with those new homeowners.

importance-of-millenial-home-buyers

Sources: US Census Bureau, National Association of Realtors

As reported in Statista surveys, millennial homeowners prefer One-And-Done projects that  can be accomplished quickly and require minimum tending after completion. They are challenged to find the time to work on projects, saying they are somewhat overwhelmed by the projects needing attention and deciding what they need to work on next with limited funds.

Here are some starting ideas for a potential rethinking of your in-store messaging to connect with those time- and cash-strapped buyers.

  • Tear pads or signage with tips on projects and their scope. You might group projects by time (15-minutes, 30 minutes, etc.) and/or cost (Less than $50, $75, etc.)
  • Highlight items that qualify for rebates
  • Take-home brochures for products that require further study. If your products aren't a quick decision to "buy now," provide resource materials that will bring buyers back into the store after they have had a chance to plan what they need. Include specific shopping lists. Emphasize problems solved and pain points eliminated by your products. Mention things that experienced users know but new users may not. For example:
    • Installs in fewer steps or without tools.
    • Cuts future repair time/costs.
    • Eliminates work done manually before.
    • Provides peace of mind.
    • Enables more creative results.
    • Saves water, money, energy.
    • Yields better looking results.
    • Improves resale value of the home.
    • Delivers other end user benefits that have gone unspoken, but really aren't that obvious.

Take a fresh look at your story. Does it quickly tell shoppers why they need your products and how to select and use them? 

Though DIY product sales have generally done well over the past year, the share of online vs in-store transactions will quickly find a new balance going forward as the new normal in retailing emerges. For best results, particularly with new users, a re-alignment of your in-store strategy may need to be moved forward in your marketing plans.

A program refresh typically begins with end-user research then proceeds with development of packaging and merchandising alternatives for testing, followed by production and roll-out.

Getting ahead of this now can also serve you well in any upcoming retailer line reviews. Retail merchants will be interested to hear your thoughts about how the category is changing and how your brand is leading the way with innovative end-to-end merchandising solutions that go a step further than the online shopping experience.

Heinzeroth Marketing Group can help you update your merchandising and prepare presentation materials you can use in your meeting. We'd love to see you emerge as the winner in this transition to a new retail environment.

How to prepare for your next product line review.