Compared to traditional brick-and-mortar retail stores, permanent showrooms represent a significantly smaller but important segment of the retail industry. Like the tradeshow industry, permanent showrooms primarily target wholesale buyers who are searching for the latest and greatest products to offer in their retail stores. However, permanent showrooms typically feature year-round, fixed locations with long-term leases which requires a markedly different approach than the temporary, event-driven tradeshow industry. Irrespective of whether a showroom is targeting wholesale buyers or retail consumers, effective merchandising together with the right store fixtures is critical to creating a successful showroom.
Permanent showrooms span multiple product categories such as furniture, fashion/accessories, lifestyle, gift, jewelry, home furnishings, kitchen and bath, and automobile. The most well-known showrooms can be found in major metropolitan markets such as Las Vegas, Atlanta, New York, Dallas, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Unlike mainstream retail which represents a blend of destination and impulse purchasing, permanent showrooms are typically optimized for destination buyers who are on a specific procurement mission within a specific product category. Without the need to stock inventory for sale, showroom operators can focus on creating a hands-on, highly experiential shopping experience.
When delving into how to make a showroom successful, one can look at the example of the types of store fixtures that we designed and fabricated to create a compelling showroom environment for Milgard Manufacturing, a leading provider of custom, energy-efficient windows and patio doors. The millwork fixture package designed for Milgard showrooms is modular, configurable, and customizable- all of which make it work for the company’s product line and diverse showroom locations.
Milgard’s patio doors and windows are shown below in a simple, minimalistic support structure that features two vertical pillars with a connecting cross member. All of the graphics are interchangeable and are designed to promote the Milgard brand while highlighting some of the key features and benefits of the product being displayed.
The support structure is also easy to assemble and disassemble, which makes it simple to modify the showroom layout or reconfigure the product mix as new products become available. The support structures are typically assembled onsite, and then the windows or doors are installed into the structure.
Multiple support structures can be attached together in a variety of ways to form different shapes that fit within the layout of the showroom.
We created the product information fixture below to display Milgard’s product literature. The lower cabinet is designed to hold product brochure backstock.
We also created an alternative, smaller footprint product brochure tower which features brochures on 1 side and a full-length graphic on the back side.
The swinging window display shown below is a very space-efficient way to display windows. The lower cabinet provides bonus storage which always comes in handy in tight showroom environments.
We created the configurable hardware board shown below to showcase Milgard’s window and door hardware. This framed fixture features 9 independent panels that can easily be changed out and configured in any order. We mounted the hardware to each panel and added an acrylic sleeve to identify the product. The top PVC header is also designed for interchangeable graphics.
Milgard showrooms include many types of signs. One example is the ceiling-mounted cable sign shown below which is a simple, clean, and space-efficient way to reinforce the Milgard brand.
Showrooms have some clear differences relative to mainstream retail stores, but they share the same need to have well-branded, space-efficient, and effectively merchandised store fixtures.
Jim Hollen is the owner and President of RICH LTD. (www.richltd.com), a 35+ year-old California-based point-of-purchase display, retail store fixture, and merchandising solutions firm which has been named among the Top 50 U.S. POP display companies for 9 consecutive years. A former management consultant with McKinsey & Co. and graduate of Stanford Business School, Jim Hollen has served more than 3000 brands and retailers over more than 20 years and has authored nearly 500 blogs and e-Books on a wide range of topics related to POP displays, store fixtures, and retail merchandising.
Jim has been to China more than 50 times and has worked directly with more than 30 factories in Asia across a broad range of material categories, including metal, wood, acrylic, injection molded and vacuum formed plastic, corrugated, glass, LED lighting, digital media player, and more. Jim Hollen also oversees RICH LTD.’s domestic manufacturing operation and has experience manufacturing, sourcing, and importing from numerous Asian countries as well as Vietnam and Mexico.
His experience working with brands and retailers spans more than 25 industries such as food and beverage, apparel, consumer electronics, cosmetics/beauty, sporting goods, automotive, pet, gifts and souvenirs, toys, wine and spirits, home improvement, jewelry, eyewear, footwear, consumer products, mass market retail, specialty retail, convenience stores, and numerous other product/retailer categories.