Optimizing Your Interiors

Make the most of how you display and store items in your retail store.

A section in this month’s issue of RV PRO focuses on RV interiors, so I have decided that my column will also focus on RV interiors. However, the RV interiors addressed in my column are those interior portions of your RV business.

Materials and products that could enhance the interior of your customer’s RV will be discussed in this issue. While reading your copy of RV PRO, you and your staff might decide to purchase some of these items. When these items are received, where in the interior of your RV business will they be placed? Let’s talk about these interior portions of your facility.

Display – Storage – or Both?

The type of interior items that you have purchased will impact your decision as to where in your facility these goods will be placed. Factors such as type of product, size, quantity purchased, and packaging could determine this placement. However, it is important that your customers are made aware of these new opportunities to enhance their RV interiors, so you might want to consider how best to merchandise each of these products.

Obviously, the optimal choice is your retail display area (or areas). Customers should be able to easily view these products as they stroll your showroom. Can your customers easily view the products displayed in your retail areas? How will you place these new products so that your customers are attracted to them? Did your supplier provide an attractive Point-Of-Purchase (P.O.P.) display fixture that could be strategically situated to draw your customers’ attention? Have you determined the hot spots in your retail areas so that you can place goods there to improve the chances of your customers noticing these new products?

If one of these newly acquired interior products is not conducive to placement in your retail areas because it is too large or not packaged for display, you will have to determine how to merchandise these types of goods. Perhaps you could schedule a new products presentation and brainstorming session for your entire sales staff. This brainstorming session should include any employee who sells goods, services or major units, and it should focus on the features and benefits of each item that will be demonstrated.

In addition to the features and benefits of these items, you could suggest that the age of the customer’s RV could be a starting point for the sales agent’s presentation of these new goods that could enhance the comfort and livability of the customer’s RV. During this new products presentation and brainstorming session, you could solicit input from your sales agents as to how best to market and merchandise these products. Since these are the personnel who will be interacting with your customers, it is important to obtain the sales agents’ buy-in regarding how and where to present these goods.

What else could be included in the agenda for this new products presentation and brainstorming session? Would any signage be appropriate to use? What if your sales team decided to install one of these new interior products in a previously owned RV on your lot? Could signage be created to direct customers to view the interior of that RV? Signage inside the RV could highlight the features and benefits of the product.

Most likely, your sales agents could brainstorm other ideas for how best to market and merchandise these new interior items.

Storage Issues

If the items cannot be displayed or had to be purchased in large quantities, here are a few questions that could assist in determining how and where to store the goods.

Who will be installing the product? If this product can be installed by the customer, then it could enhance the transaction processes by storing the product as close to the selling workstation as possible. However, if this is an item that might require installation by your technicians, then the product could be placed where it is easier to distribute to the service department.

What is the size of the product? Suppose it is a full-size refrigerator. Then it might best be placed in a storage location that can be accessed by a forklift or a pallet jack so that it can be easily transferred to the service area; or, to the customer’s pickup truck. However, if the product is small enough to be easily carried, then an attractive display in the retail showroom could be the optimal place for this product.

Is the product displayed in the retail sales area? If this is a product that you have purchased in large quantities in the anticipation of high sales volume, then the back-stock of this product could be placed where it can be easily and quickly retrieved. Of course, if your parts operating procedure includes a retail restock process whereby at least once each day a parts associate re-stocks the display fixtures, then it is not necessary to store the back-stock near the retail showroom.

One More Factor

Assuming your RV business uses a computer system to track your inventory of goods, it is important to track the receipt of and sales of these new products. I assume that the interior space in your facility is limited and that your budget for the inventory of goods is also limited. Therefore, you should consider tracking the sales of these new goods that you have purchased and have placed in your facility. Are each of these goods being sold at a rate that will provide you with an acceptable return on investment (ROI)? What reports can be run within your computer system that will assist you in determining if a specific item is selling – or not? What methods could be applied to increase the sales rate of any item that is not selling?

Could this item be:

  • placed in a sales hot spot?
  • returned to the supplier for a credit or in a swap for another product?
  • offered at a discount?

The Close

If you are offering products to enhance the interior of your customer’s RV, you should also consider enhancing the interior of your RV business. Where these products will be presented and/or stored will make a different to your customers, and to your staff’s efficiency.

Mel Selway

Mel Selway is the president of P.A.R.T.S. Inc., a Sahuarita, Arizona-based firm providing business management analysis and training to retailers. He can be reached at 520-336- 8606 or melselway@aol.com.
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