Nov 21, 2011
Looks Are Everything
Abby Heugel, Managing Editor

How to display costumes to drive sales

Successful retailers know you have to show it to sell it, and that’s especially true when it comes to costumes and accessories. There are plenty of tools at your disposal to help transform your store into a visually engaging costume gallery – including the tips and tricks below.

Floor Them
Kristen Meador, assistant director of marketing for Eldorado Trading Company, said the most popular retail displays are floor standing, and are usually versatile in terms of dimensions and style with the ability to hold and promote an entire product line.

“With slick design, graphics, lights, and video, these displays become a powerful lure for customers,” Meador said. “Coupled with product samples and accessories customers can try on, you’ve got a formula for bigger profits and satisfied, repeat customers.”

At Wally’s Party Factory/Card & Party Factory stores in Texas, they hang costumes facing out rather than perpendicular to the fixture.

“This allows the customer to see more costumes at a glance and spend their time selecting matching accessories than finding their costume in the first place,” said Terese James, visual merchandising manager. “We also clearly sign each category of costume to give customers additional help in finding what they are looking for quickly.”

In addition to the sensory impact floor displays create, they’re also a natural for up-selling. Keeping one brand or variety of product together allows for easy, clerk-free up-sells of product add-ons like wigs, hats, chokers, eyelashes and other costume accessories. Meador added that it pays to feature themed displays of costumes that show off multiple products at once.

“With a few mannequins this becomes very simple,” she said. “Dress one in a vampire costume and outfit the mannequin in various complimentary accessories like fake finger nails, coffin locket necklaces, a set of vampiress eyelashes, and of course, fangs. Do the same with another mannequin for a Steampunk ensemble complete with wig, hat, holster, aviator goggles, etc.”

At Wally’s Party Factory, they elect three of their hottest themes of the year and create “shops” which present an entire story to the customer that includes costumes, accessories, party goods and decor. The shops are placed at the front of the store and use a combination of shelves and pegboard.

“They can hold a large amount of product, which opens up space on the costume runs,” James said. “Finally, we create grid islands and huts to run down the center of seasonal aisle to pick up even more presentation space for costumes.”

If floor space is tight, taking advantage of counter P.O.P. displays is vital. Meador said counter displays are extremely effective in encouraging impulse buys, especially when placed near the cash register. These are ideal for moving less expensive or small accessories such as makeup, hair dyes or costume props.

“P.O.P. signs, video or LCD boards are all effective methods in getting your product noticed and bringing attention to your costume section,” she said. “They are also an economical and cost effective way to sell your message to customers.”

Visual Feasts
When it comes to generating retail sales, packaging and product presentation are very influential. As Meador said, “people eat with their eyes and they shop with their eyes,” which means it’s important to create a “visual feast” for the customer when they enter your store.

“If a product doesn’t look good in the store, it certainly becomes difficult to convince a customer it will look good on them at home,” Meador said. “Make sure you’re stocked with the highest quality merchandise with inviting and tasteful packaging. With more and more manufacturers offering packaged costumes, it becomes extremely easy to merchandise on slat walls in uniform modular planograms.”

James said they’ve developed a set of company merchandising standards that are partly based on the various types of product packaging and require that the largest items be placed toward the bottom of product presentations while smaller items are toward the top.

“Within a category of product, we also require that like headers are grouped together,” she said. “All of this allows us to use fixture space more efficiently, but also creates a clean, organized look with correctly distributed visual weight that a customer finds both attractive and easy to shop.”

Another option is interactive kiosks to provide customers a wealth of sales and promotional information right at their fingertips. Kiosks are self-service features that empower shoppers, while freeing up sales staff at the same time.

“A basic kiosk is a terminal connected to your website, and may also contain product demo videos, specifications, pricing and all other necessary details for your customer to make an informed purchase,” Meador said. “A kiosk allows you to show off all your products regardless of the amount of shelf space you have.”

She added that using a kiosk is also a perfect way to provide multimedia presentations, sales and upcoming in-store events and promotions. With today’s consumer being more familiar than ever with Internet and computer technology, most find in-store kiosks a convenient way to bolster their shopping experience. This is also a good way for some stores to sell to their risque costume shoppers without risking offending other customers.

James agreed that placement of adult costumes is key to avoiding such situations and they stress to their stores that this category should be set toward the back of the store.

“Our adjacency guide groups family-friendly categories together toward the front of the store, with the intention of the layout being that families can walk through these categories and find what they need without having to walk through the adult themes,” James said. “We also use signage within these categories that indicate adult supervision is recommended.”

But most importantly, James said they use customer service. Associates on the sales floor interacting with customers can steer families away from what they don’t want by helping them find what they do want – an engaging shopping experience they can (hopefully) tell their friends about.

Top Tips
1. Tell a strong story in your product presentation – Select products that will work together to present a clear theme to your costumer. It has to be able to state your theme or story with, or without, signage.
2. Make displays fun and unique and change them often to entice customers to come back frequently just to see what’s new.
3. Offer something extra to your customers in your displays by adding marketing materials. Flyers with party ideas using product in the presentation, costume combos, different uses for items in the display, etc. add value to product and help sell it. Also, clear signage and thorough pricing closes the deal. Even if the display and the product is great, the sale is lost if the costumer cannot easily find the price on each item.
-Terese James, Wally’s Party Factory/ Card & Party Factory

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