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Merchandising Options

There are as many merchandising options for a dealer or distributor showroom as there are business plans these showrooms reflect. Some showrooms have separate sections for carpet, tile, hardwoods, laminates and resilients – each section dominated by large floor displays. Some show only product vignettes – bathrooms, patios, kitchens and so on – with no floor displays in sight. Some have custom fixtures, static displays of grouted boards and areas of the showroom exhibiting different types of floor covering. Whatever the strategic merchandising approach employed, showrooms generally demonstrate some combination of the following sales aids:

1. Large Floor Displays. These can be swing-wings, fixed position displays, various configurations of bookcase-type displays or metal racks for individual pieces of tile, stone or wood. Some displays are filled with sample boards, some with product samples mounted to backer boards with labels and some simply containing individual tiles. Many feature large display headers and side panels printed in bright graphics. Size, number of displays ordered, interior features of the display and the character of the graphics will strongly affect costs.

2. Step-racks, otherwise known as waterfall displays or cradles, are often the choice for companies that do not have the desire or the means to buy large floor displays. Step-racks typically hold five to eight sample boards, often have printed headers, are usually painted black or wood grain color, and fit together in multiple pieces like Lincoln Logs. Because of their low cost and flexibility these displays present excellent opportunities to showcase new product lines or highlight more mature ones.

3. Sample boards, also known as dealer boards, hand boards or display boards, are probably the most widely-used vehicles to show off a product and create brand identity. They work equally well in large floor displays, step-racks, in home improvement store display cabinets or simply loose on the showroom floor or leaning against the wall. They can be made of plastic, wood (hardboard or medium density fiberboard – MDF) or recycled , multi-layered cardboard (also known as pasted chipboard) ; there are cost and appearance factors that go with each. Another advantage of sample boards is that they can be carried by sales people into customer offices or loaned to consumers to take home. They are equally at home in model home or contractor offices. Most sample boards are custom-made to customer specifications, which implies a certain minimum order quantity to be economical. For smaller dealers or distributors boards in various sizes and quantities can be purchased off the shelf from certain manufacturers.

4. Architectural folders and binders are typically two, three and four-panel styles. They can be made in almost any size, but size is typically constrained by an architect ‘s shelf limitations. A folder can be a very high-end and expensive vehicle, which sometimes it must be to compete for space on the shelf, or it can be much simpler and less expensive. With one-color printing or labels, less expensive folders can be employed flexibly to hold a number of product types and sizes. Although order quantities and graphic treatments can increase cost, folders and binders can be made to reflect precise marketing strategies and brand reinforcement through the use of foils, gold leaf stamping, screen printing, film laminates and cloth covers. As with sample boards, it is possible to buy small quantities of folders in plain white or black.

5. Swatch Cards, like folders, can be employed to carry certain product lines such as mosaics, glass tiles, small chip sets or 3”X 3” up to 6” x 6” tiles and trim pieces. For maximum effect the swatch cards are often placed in wood or paperboard boxes or trays. The “cards” may be as small as 2” x 3” and as large as 10” x 15”. They are most often made of recycled cardboard with a white, printable face, but they can be made from thin MDF. Like sample boards and folders, the cards can be printed with multi-color graphics in several ways (i.e. silk screen, litho, digital) depending on quantity and intended use.

6. Labels are simply everywhere – on cards, sample boards, displays, tile pieces, back panels, headers and footers. When printing or labeling the entire face of a sample board is cost-prohibitive, partial “strip” labels can be printed on pressure-sensitive stock and applied to the top, bottom or side of the boards. Most labels are purchased locally or online.

Information compliments of Nick Willard, NS Converters, LLC.

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TileDealer Articles

Showroom Seminar: The Design Center
By: Kathleen Furore
Issue: Second Quarter, 2009

"Imagine upscale vignettes of kitchens and baths, all featuring luxury tile and other home accessories. Now imagine those vignettes all under one roof, in a single room where the general public, as well as interior designers, architects and custom builders, can explore the latest design trends, then buy the materials they need to complete their residential and commercial projects."

To read more click here.

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Creating Cost Effective Sample Boards
Issue: July/August 2004

"In contrast to the practice in other industries, floor covering manufacturers and distributors typically decide how their products will be displayed in retail or commercial channels. This requires them to consider a number of factors when deciding how to introduce a new line, breathe new life into an old one, or display products to their full advantage. The specification and design of a sample board is important because it plays many crucial roles:

  • It must be an effective selling tool, conveying brand and product information on the showroom floor, in the consumer's home or at the architect, designer or builder's office.
  • It should withstand normal handling without losing its sales appeal. It must be functionally efficient - sized to accommodate the product and designed for the consumer, sales person, architect or builder to conveniently carry it.
  • It must convey the desired image. Plain boards are inexpensive and look it. Well-designed and decorated boards enhance the product image.

    To read more click here.



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