Skilled merchandising comes down to style, scale, color and function, said Abby Craighton of Dwell Home Furnishings & Interior Design.
HIGH POINT – When a customer walks into a store, spots a fully outfitted living room vignette and wants to buy the whole thing, that’s great merchandising. And home accents and accessories play an important role in any retail merchandising strategy.
“They’re the icing on our merchandising cake,” said Scotch Kurtenbach, owner of Timber & Fieldstone in Chatsworth, Ill., Which specializes in a mix of vintage and antique pieces and modern farmhouse décor. “Many times, accents and accessories are what pulls a look all together or finishes it off with just the right touch.”
The most popular items are the always the ones that the customer can visualize in their own home, Kurtenbach added. Many people love decorating their homes but aren’t confident in how to do so, he said, and walking into the shop and seeing something styled in different ways and as part of multiple displays helps them.
“In a furniture store, you are screwed if you do not have accents since they show customers what homes can truly look like,” said Mary Liz Curtin, owner of Leon and Lulu, a 15,000-square-foot lifestyle store in Clawson, Mich. “A furniture store without home accents is sad and probably selling on price only. Accents and accessories make the customer feel at home or represent the home they want to have. It’s aspirational. ”
The accents and accessories business has been playing a more important role in retail merchandising recently, according to Steve Riley, a retail consultant and a former merchandising executive for Nebraska Furniture Mart and Macy’s. “The past year or two has been a boon for the furniture industry. You want to romance the product and accents and accessories make a significant difference in the eyes of the consumer. ”
Michelle Lamb, founder of The Trend Curve, said she sees many more retailers bringing decorative accessories front and center. Her theory is that while so many people wanted to update all the furnishings in their home during the pandemic, not everyone had the resources to do so. “Instead, consumers opted for accent pieces that can change a room’s character quickly,” she said. “Retailers began placing more emphasis on these categories, understanding that decorative accessories can both update and personalize, increasing their value for shoppers.”
Creating bountiful tabletop schemes by layering and stacking a collection of objects from a variety of vendors with a common thread has been a winning formula for Mallory Fields, whose 5,000-square-foot showroom in Johnson City, Tenn., Also offers interior design services.
“We think it can give importance to smaller items that would otherwise be visually lost to the consumer,” said David Mallory, co-founder of the store with Todd Fields.
“A shopper can not retain all that they are experiencing in a store or showroom, which means that if a piece is not selling where it is at, then move it to a fresh new spot,” said Brad Priest, a principal at Garber’s Interior Design in Elkhart, Ind., Which offers a large selection of home décor and gifts in addition to interior design services. “We had this beautiful handmade glass art piece that was being overlooked so I brought it front and center as you enter our store and within a week this gorgeous piece sold.”
With more online competition than ever, retailers with brick-and-mortar locations have to work harder to capture consumers’ attention, with vibrant, eye-catching displays in front windows as well as throughout the store.
Beyond the vignette
Sometimes product categories need to be treated individually, and there is a range of ways to show an assortment of lamps or rugs.
“Any answer about methods will always depend on the goals of the display,” said Lamb. “Is the idea to send a trend message? If so, a vignette focused on a single trend style really offers the best approach. If instead the idea is to highlight a color – consumers almost always shop for color first – a palette-based or single-color-driven display makes the most sense (and will provide the highest impact). ”
Vignettes are a great way to display accents and accessories, said Mallory, but shelving units and free-standing pedestals are great space-saving solutions for displaying categories of product.
To maximize limited floor space, these retailers suggest incorporating accent pieces and accessories within vignettes, as well as using a category wall.
How do you bring accent and accessories add-on sales to the online world?
“The most important thing is to make sure your links work,” said Lamb. “Then do not forget to suggest a companion piece. I love how some online apparel retailers recommend several outfits built around the one piece you’re looking at. The same concept can be utilized for toss pillows or portable lighting. ”
Schwartzkopf, who often works with Lamb on retail merchandising presentations, added, “Curation and personalization is also a great idea. … Suggesting relevant builds is a great way to provide a solution and generate additional sales. But they can not be random. There needs to be a thoughtful, purposeful rationale for the recommendation. ”
There are so many areas of home décor and accents that Timber & Fieldstone does its best to group complementary categories together online, said Kurtenbach. It features stock photos of the products on its website but adds photos of the product featured in the store with other products or cross-merchandised in a vignette.
And it frequently updates its featured products online with items that can easily be paired with other featured items. “It helps increase sales and move product,” Kurtenbach said.
“Not only do we want our displays to be attention-grabbers in-store, but we want displays to photograph well, too,” he added. “Better photographs being posted online not only by our social media accounts but by customers creates an uptick in new followers, new shoppers in-store and encourages organic word of mouth recommendations of our store.”
Whether online or in-store, great merchandising sells product, retailers and experts agreed.
“The way you display is everything,” said Mallory. “The environment you create, the way you mix and arrange things, should create a mood. It should make the buyer want to be a part of that story. Besides the display, lighting, music and fragrance are all part of what I call ‘the seduction.’ ”
Editors Lauren Roses, Anne Flynn Wear and Thomas Lester contributed to this report. Home Accents Today is a sister publication of Furniture Today.