Tips for selling more timber

DIY Week magazine, May

Published: 20/07/2009 00:00

Merchandising in its simplest form aims to maximise the sale through effective product presentation and timber can sometimes prove to be somewhat of a challenge to merchandise.

In-store tactics can increase the potential of a sale – improving volume and therefore having a positive impact on profitability. Timber landscaping products such as decking, deck kits, pergolas, arbours, gazebos and log cabins all present their own unique challenges for the retailer. A few simple measures can help to improve the chances of a sale.

1. Identification
Various tactics can be employed and it is worth reviewing the store’s navigational signage, display labelling, ranging, pricing and the promotion of a product’s features and benefits. These basic principals integrate with one-another to encourage the customer to find what they need, generate a purchase and potentially secure a return visit.

Having sufficient literature on hand in dispensers fixed to the racking or the display itself generally works well and a common sense approach, placing clear and informative labelling on display products will reduce the demand put on staff to answer simple questions whilst helping to make the buying experience enjoyable and memorable. 

2. Memorable Displays
Delegating the responsibility of merchandising a display and maintaining it is critical and there’s nothing more eye catching than a well-presented themed product display.

Sell the lifestyle. Decking can be extremely inspirational and designs are becoming increasingly creative, incorporating new deck finishes and innovative balustrading options.  Well-presented decking displays show off the product’s quality and versatility.  Simple props like real plants, furniture and maybe a water feature can liven up a display.

However, size of the display can often be an issue and it is not always possible to show off a selection of larger items like log cabins. Getting creative and using a blend of online, printed literature and in-store merchandising units can all be used to the same advantage.

3. Create a virtual shop window
Larger items are difficult to display in store. Directing customers to an in-store website where they can view the range provides a way of making that shop window infinitely bigger.

At this point, taking advantage of supplier websites can save time and expense. Some are cleverly geared to drive potential customers into their nearest outlet and feature for example, virtual 3D tours, component calculation tools, build guides, price lists and optional extras.

4. Hit the books
Product literature is a traditional way of talking a potential customer through all the options, to help them through their purchasing decision. Providing a handy reference point in store with a good set of product literature will highlight the overall quality of products together with the all-important list of features and benefits of the range. Aspirational photography helps to bring products to life, inspiring customers to realise their own garden designs.

5. Link the sale
It is clear that positioning related products near to each other is an effective method to stimulate the cross sell.  However, ensuring that staff are fully briefed to recognise the opportunity of a sale is also vital to ensuring no opportunity is passed by. In this way staff training should become an important part of the merchandising mix, supporting all the marketing collateral in the store with knowledge about their products’ benefits. 

Supplier training on the aspects of linked and cross selling can help to raise awareness so that staff ask the right questions of customers. For example, if a customer is purchasing deck boards to perhaps rejuvenate an existing decked area, they could also be interested in the addition of a balustrade or other accessories such as a pergola. Where they are interested in a log cabin, have they considered enhancement products such as decorative flooring, insulation and security for it too?

At point of purchase, it’s worth promoting fixings, treatments and accessories such as lighting – these can all add to increasing the value of the sale and help to boost margin.

6. Add value
For many consumers there is a logistical issue with purchasing larger items such as timber landscaping products and in particular garden structures. By offering a direct home delivery service this problem is removed and therefore the sale can be eased by passing confidence onto the customer that their new items will be delivered, at no additional cost, on a date and time convenient to them. 

For the retailer this can be done in partnership with a product supplier that offers an efficient and professional home delivery service. This means that when a customer places a cabin order, the supplier manages the fulfilment enabling the retailer to concentrate on their business, with none of the hassle or handling and delivery costs.

Finally, merchandising is an art, if it doesn’t work, then change it. Gain feedback from your customers and develop new ideas on an on-going and regular basis.

1. Erect navigational signage 
2. Clear labelling of product 
3. Inspirational displays 
4. Knowledgeable staff 
5. Literature and other support material 
6. Cross sell opportunities identified