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With renovations and new construction moving at lightspeed over the past year or more, showrooms across the country have kept pace with energy and skill. Delays, supply chain issues and labor shortages have massively impacted the industry, but it has more than risen to the challenge.
On an individual scale, decorative plumbing showrooms have seen excellent growth as they support the continued demand from homeowners, designers and building professionals. While it is impossible to predict what the future will bring, one thing is certain — a showroom must look at ways to ensure its survival no matter what the state of the economy.
Renovating or updating a showroom isn’t something that only happens when business is slow and you’re looking to attract clients. In fact, this high point is the best time to evaluate the space you’re in and make the changes that will bring your showroom into the next phase. Investing in your showroom is investing in the future of your business. With this in mind, several trends and ideas to consider will truly make the investment worth it.
Our designers, who work with showroom owners across the country, see the kitchen and bath industry growing into a more consumer-friendly shopping experience. As showrooms update to respond to changing customer expectations, the designs are focused on clearly defined merchandise categories and interactive displays that give a real-life flair to the shopping experience.
Clean and Uncluttered
Showrooms are beginning to resemble stores such as Crate and Barrel, offering a vision of lifestyle and comfort to all kinds of homeowners and renters looking to personalize their homes. Taking a wide view, the overall look and feel of new showrooms is minimalistic, organized and open. Taking inspiration from the gallery look, which is clean, uncluttered and classic, new-style showrooms are not so much product-focused as experience-driven.
Ultimately, it’s about creating a comfortable and inviting environment in which clients can focus on getting the project of their dreams done right. To create this type of environment, the most recently renovated and built showrooms are using open concept plans with layouts reflecting the new ways people are interacting with products and retail spaces.
In these open, modern layouts, there is a mix of product displays, sales stations, design and consultation areas, and event areas. All these elements are seamlessly integrated into the space not just for design reasons but also because it creates a lower pressure environment for clients and sales staff.
Also, breaking the boundaries between sales and nonsales areas allows customers to spend more time around the products in a more relaxed manner — which increases the urge to buy.
Getting into the finer details in terms of color and style, we see how trending finishes in decorative plumbing fixtures are moving into the retail world of showrooms, with stone, metal and other textured and natural accents adding a touch of the unexpected to the traditional case goods and décor.
Some showrooms add subtle pops of color in pastel tones to displays and walls, reflecting trends in home design and inspiring clients to envision how the fixtures will look in a real-world way. Also, many showrooms are adding plants to the space or fully incorporating them into the design.
Think About Display
While design trends are worth considering, to really zero in on how to create the best space for your clients, it is necessary to think about what they want to get out of the experience. Aside from great customer service, consumers who shop in-store are looking for the best possible product selection and variety — and organized spaces in which products are easy to find.
These two elements of the customer experience should be addressed through smart merchandising that makes use of a thoughtful floor plan. Your best tools to accomplish this are your display fixtures, whether they are manufacturer-provided or custom displays, or a mix of both.
To address the issues of organization and an improved product selection process, displays must be placed strategically according to the layout of the space. Using the showroom design best practices detailed here will generate numerous benefits: they create an excellent first impression, control how clients move through the showroom, assist with product selection, and help your staff apply your unique sales practices.
It is necessary to use anything with height in a thoughtful way — such as wall displays (slat walls, faucet walls, shower displays) and tall manufacturer displays and towers. One best practice is to place walls and towers to the outside of the space to keep the showroom open and allow clients a clear view of the entire area. In other examples, tall displays are used to define special areas, such as sales or design zones or specific product categories.
No matter what, walls or taller displays must be used in sync with the floor plan, or you risk disrupting the overall look and feel of the space and making clients feel closed in. With taller display components optimized and properly placed, the center of the showroom floor appears more spacious and comfortable.
In the center of the showroom, lower displays are key. The usual suspects — low sink displays, tubs on podiums and low walls for toilets and vanities — are still popular. Podiums are a classic way to display new or top-selling items; however, based on a trend in retail design, we are working with a new way to use them.
Typically, podiums are simple rectangular boxes used alone to put the focus on items such as faucets and vessel sinks. Today, podiums are transformed into something truly special. Using different shapes, such as pyramids or cylinders, heights and colors, podiums offer a unique and flexible way to showcase products.
In recent designs, we grouped podiums of different heights to create spiraled and tiered effects to draw the eye. Another reason to implement podiums is to add color to the showroom. It’s not always easy to paint walls or large displays, but podiums can easily be customized for shorter-term product displays.
Look for Durability
No matter what displays you use, flexibility and durability are key to ensuring you keep clients’ interest and make your job easier. Displays must be able to stand up to heavy use, especially if they are working displays, and display elements that can be moved allow you to refresh the look without major effort. Given that product styles and trends change so rapidly, displays must adapt to make it easier for staff to replace products quickly.
Clients also want interactive displays allowing them to see, feel and try out the products. Showers and faucets are two of the top fixtures to place in functional displays, and it’s worth investing in a fully functioning mini-suite to show how a variety of products work. A working mini-suite or vignette also has the bonus of creating the lifestyle look that will attract and inspire your customers.
Showrooms focusing on improving their spaces for their clients will always have a leg up on the competition, whether they are competing brick-and-mortar stores or e-commerce sites. Spaces with a unique design that are easy to navigate and offer the chance to select products in a comfortable, casual setting are exactly what people are looking for these days.
Take the time now to update your showroom and show your clients you are keeping up with their needs, and that you are committed to their projects now and in the future.