Why Are Fixtures So Important

Nov 30, 2009

Why are fixtures so important? Amazingly enough, it seems I always get asked that question as the retailer is looking at the list of fixtures I have suggested and the price! “I can get these for free from my vendors,” as he points to a hodge-podge of fixtures that have no consistency, nor do they emanate a statement about what store I am in or create an inviting environment.

It seems to me there is a missing link. The retailer goes to trade shows where the venders spend gobs of money to display and entice the retailer to buy there product. The retailer buys the product and then fails to do the same for the end consumer. Presentation is just as important as product mix. As a matter of fact, if you fall short on presentation, the best product mix in the world won’t do you any good; the consumer won’t be exposed to that product mix.

Increasing Visual Impressions

Imagine all of the products you bought at the last trade show in one pile on the floor. You may sell a few things, the ones on the top of the pile that the consumer can see, but all the stuff on the bottom of the pile will, A.) Not be seen by the consumer and B.) Most importantly, not be purchased.

I know this is an extreme example, but my point is that consumers can’t buy what they can’t see. Fixtures allow the consumer to see the product; they create what I call a visual impression of each product. The consumer is able to see the product, get attracted to it and most importantly, purchase the product.

The more of these visual impressions you can make throughout your store, the more the odds are that the consumer will buy product. The correct fixture mix is like having the right tools to fix an engine. If the product is displayed in such a way that the consumer can easily see and become attracted to as much product as possible in the short amount of time you have them in your store, your sales will increase. You must remember, having the consumer in your store is becoming less and less a reality as the Internet swoops into our world. So, while you have their attention, give them what they are looking for.

Establish “Your” Look!

Invest in a base fixture style that speaks your brand, your store and the feeling you want to create in your store. That may be wood for the outdoorsy feel or metal for that techy feel or a combination of both depending on the product. I say invest because it is an investment in your business, and you should consider it as such. Fixtures are the vehicle that sells your product to the consumer, so just like anything else you invest in, put some thought behind that investment.

What lets the consumer know they are in your store as opposed to your best competitor’s store? Give them a feel; create a consistency so that their attention is on the product. The over all atmosphere of the store can be created with the correct fixturing.

Merchandising your store is about change, it should always be changing and the fixture system you purchase should have that capability. The system should be flexible, as what’s hot today may not be hot tomorrow, and your fixtures need to be able to weather the changing face of products. I always say put the store on wheels, and I’ll give you a new store every day. As much as possible, the store should always be fresh and changing, give the consumer a reason to look in new parts of the store and the best way to do that is to put everything on casters. It gives you flexibility, and it allows you to create that new environment just by switching fixtures around.

Vendor Fixtures and POP

The most important part of vendor POP is to call out a vendor’s product as special and to make it stand out from all of the other products. Of course every vendor wants you to do that with “his” product. This is a tricky area, and here is why: If you use all vendor POP you get that hodge-podge feel, and no vendor’s product stands out; it becomes a confusing mess. It defeats the purpose. If you create a base look for your store, i.e. the Sam’s Motorsport look happens to be wood, and you strategically place a few sparkly vendor POP in the center, they stand out, call out the product from the norm and do their job: sell more product!

So there is a double-edged knife to all those “free” fixtures. If you have too many of them, they dilute your look, and most importantly, they don’t do their job. The solution: As I mentioned, create your look with a base fixture mix and then very selectively represent those vendors that you want to promote and who have done a good job with their advertising and POP.

The purpose to POP is to tie into a good advertising campaign, so if the vender has done their job, the product is sold before the consumer walks in the door and all the POP is doing is closing the sale. No vendor should get precious foot print space if they haven’t done their job: 1.) a good ad campaign, 2.) POP that ties into the ad campaign and looks like or is familiar to the ads 3.) a good POP that holds a lot of product per square foot.

Promote Your Brand Name!

An entire article could be devoted to this but I feel it is important enough to mention here. Just like the vendor doing his job promoting his name, you need to do the same throughout your store.

Consumers are busy, and they forget where they are. If they come to the register and ask who to write the check out to, you have not done your job. Have signs made up with your logo and spread them through the store. Use the same logo that is on your business cards, yellow page ad and news paper ads. (I hope you are being consistent in all those areas, if not, you better start-¦one logo!)

Fixture Mix

There is nothing worse then a sea of fixtures. Guess what happens to your consumers mind when exposed to a sea of fixtures-¦it turns off! Having all of the same fixtures gives the entire product the same perceived value. While we are on that subject, certain types of fixtures give product a perceived value as well. Consumers are well trained; department stores and mass merchants have trained them to expect certain things. For example, a sea of chrome rounders means everything is on sale or a lower price. If you don’t want to give that impression, get those high-priced jackets off of the rounders.

Create focal points throughout the store so the consumer’s eye can bounce from one focal point to the next and not be overwhelmed. Focal points can be a large wall area or free-standing displays. The best height for most free-standing fixtures is 52″. This, mixed with a few towers and higher fixtures, creates an interesting variety. When creating a section, have shorter fixtures in the front with a few POP towers in the middle and a wall area behind it to pull the consumer through the product to the back.

Mixing fixture styles is OK too, i.e. you can have rich wood tones and wood fixtures in the clothing area and metal fixtures in the performance area. Just remember to invest in systems that work together. Slat wall hooks do not work on most grid wall fixtures. Let’s say you have a wood system in soft goods and a metal system in accessories. Make sure you can use the same hooks in both areas; it’s more cost effective. Most importantly, keep it simple and don’t get too carried away with to many different looks. You want to convey a base that speaks your name brand, feel and look. You want the product to pop and sell itself off of these silent salesmen.

Sometimes, it only takes a small number of one type of fixture to create a feel. Let’s say you don’t have the budget to change your entire fixture selection. Instead, try peppering your chrome clothing rack stock with a few wood fixtures; it changes the feel of the whole section. Likewise, if you have a bunch of metal gondolas, bring in one or two towers to break up the sea of grey gondolas.


As for the Internet, it is important to show pictures of your store. Make customers feel at home while shopping over the air; it may also entice them to come visit if they are in the area.