Showroom Savvy

Nov 26, 2012

Fixtures for upgrading your sales area without breaking the bank.

In today’s competitive marketplace, the Internet has become a fierce rival to the brick-and mortar retailer. So much so that many searches for product information, marketing pitches and sales transactions take place via smartphone, with the consumer never actually stepping foot into a store at all.

While I have always advocated remerchandising and/or remodeling showrooms every few years to keep the products – and your message – fresh to the consumer, the economy has slowed things down a bit for the average retailer. Overall sales aren’t what they used to be and that tends to curtail spending on marketing necessities such as showroom improvements and advertising.

What hasn’t slowed down is the relentless and ubiquitous intrusion of the Internet into our daily lives, and that’s not going to slow down anytime soon.

So, short of performing a major remodel to your store to attract new customers, keep the interest of the old ones and in general dazzle them all with your brand of goods and services, what can you do to fight back?

The answer is to accessorize your showroom with new types of fixtures that will augment or enhance what you already have.

Most of us are familiar with the basic building blocks of a showroom: perimeter walls that are commonly covered with slatwall or grid panels, a service desk or display case and gondolas or merchandisers with a smattering of POP devices.

What I will share with you today are “accessory fixtures” that can fill-in the blanks. Maybe you have a dead zone (dark section) of the sales floor, or you need to utilize an empty wall to feature a new category. These new fixtures will help.

The walls

No matter how much space you wish to utilize, there’s a modular system to fit your needs. Slat strip, cable support and Tubular support systems offer a clean, modern approach to merchandising:

Vertical Slat Strips can be mounted directly into wall studs at the length you choose to support shelves, or any type of slatwall merchandising device. They can be used as a standalone strip, or part of a full wall of components. They are easy to install, set up and reconfigure to accommodate boxed or carded goods.

Cable Support Systems are an elegant way to feature high-end products in boxes or as live sample displays. They are capable of holding glass or solid shelves in most any configuration to fit your display needs. With the right mounts, they can be used in a window display, as well.

Pole or Rod System, are more rugged and send a distinct industrial message. For use with heavier boxed or open stock goods, they will also accommodate glass or solid shelves.

V-Wall Display Systems offer a clean, horizontal display line without using an entire wall. These aluminum extrusions allow dual-purpose application: They accept standard slatwall hardware, but also floating, slip-in glass or acrylic shelves. Energy-efficient LED illumination is optional and available in multiple colors and effects. Use it to highlight products, logos or brand messages. V-Wall offers a clean high-end look and many design opportunities. It’s ready-made to be embedded in 5/8″ drywall, and can be combined with other wall materials. In addition, optional LED lighting can be hidden within the slot with no visible cords. V-Wall extrusions are available in custom lengths and finish options.


Shorter versions of typical gondolas or islands, these units are usually mobile and have a variety of centers, the most popular being slatwall:

The H Unit, while not exactly new, has evolved into the perfect all-around mobile merchandiser for just about anything you sell. With 3″ OC metal slatwall centers, the H unit in either 4′ or 8′ length uses standard slatwall accessories that include hooks, apparel holders, shelves, face-outs, etc. They hold a surprising amount of goods and can easily be positioned anywhere on the showroom floor to be used as part of a promotion or permanent display.
Two-Way Merchandisers also are not new, but the new generation of mobile two-way units is equipped to handle a myriad of product configurations in a small space. They are available with or without a base, and your choice of center type and wing displays. They are a great way to promote new or seasonal items such as car care or winter products.
Pipe Rack Displays are a blast from the past. Call me whacky, but I still like them. Originally developed for the garment industry years ago, they have made a comeback and are now available in many configurations. Primarily for hanging larger, bulky items like jackets or shirts, they can also be used to feature car mats and other oversized items that don’t fit well in typical merchandising scenarios. They’re a conversation piece and functional store fixture.


Flexible LED tape lighting is a great way to backlight graphics or small, narrow light box areas. It is also perfect for getting light into small, confined spaces of your showroom without auxiliary lighting.

The fact that it is flexible allows you to go around corners and other tight spaces. The tape is very “plug-and-play” and easy to use. Connector accessories are available to link sections together, and the tape comes in a variety of lengths from 2′ to 10′ and can be cut every 4″ to make custom lengths.

Use it to highlight promotional or high-end items. Also use it to light up your logo or store name so that your customers know who you are.

The flexible LED tape light is available in different color options including neutral white and warm white. The neutral white is a pure white color while warm white has a yellowish tint. There is also an RGB (red, green, blue) option that will allow you to control colors and give you a large variety of hues to choose from. With the RGB version there is also fade and jump options that allow colors to be faded in and out.

Meanwhile, LED track lights are the new, hot setup for the perimeter of your store. They are not cheap like old-fashioned low-voltage or line-voltage halogen lamps. But they burn cool, bright and last a long time.

The jury is still out on the cost savings of life and energy use versus the cost differential. But the new styles and sizes of LED lights are definitely cool and will modernize any showroom.

Floor design

High-gloss floor tile called Tuffshield Diamond can be used to create a highly reflective floor surface throughout the showroom, or to highlight a specific area. It’s perfect for attracting attention to a promotional area or to build a platform for a show vehicle.

Its modular design allows you to create custom-shaped designs and the optional edge trim pieces add a finished look to the job. The tiles are very easy to install and a snap to keep clean.

Also, floor graphics are an inexpensive way to build your store’s brand awareness with customers. Use them to advertise your logo or slogan. Or, design them to lead the customer to a specific display or promotion.

You’ve seen them used by large retailers, but the truth is that they are available to anyone who can supply digital artwork to a professional printer. Many printers can assist you with a design, as well, and also create window and wall graphics. When you want to change messages, the graphics are easy to remove with little or no residue.


Yes, I do love that word. And while there are literally thousands of nutty things that you can install in your showroom, many of them offer little or no value to you, the merchant.

If it doesn’t hold merchandise that’s for sale or broadcast your company name or branding, then it shouldn’t be there taking up space. But sometimes a contraption has some merit.

A good example is the countdown clock. We all grew up with a countdown that meant something was going to happen – and urgency was related. Hopefully it was something good; but it served as a reminder and therefore demanded scrutiny.

The countdown clock is always popular and can be custom-designed with your message, reminding customers of a recurring promotion, a sponsored event like a race, an upcoming holiday such as Father’s Day or Christmas – you get the idea. Graphics can easily be changed for different events, and the systems are easily installed and UL-approved. It’s a gimmick, yes, but one that can start conversations and lead to sales.

The end? No way – this is just the beginning. There are scores of simple and inexpensive merchandising tools and devices that are designed to kick-start your selling season and reintroduce customers to you.

Use these ideas to keep moving forward toward capturing more customers and higher profits.

Until next time, Good Selling!