Retailing 120: How to Create an Extraordinary Tennis Retail Shopping Experience

A great store environment, including display fixtures, lighting and outstanding displays, are essential to attracting shoppers to your specialty tennis retail store today, but they are only the beginning. Here are some tips to bring your store environment to life and help you create an “extraordinary” specialty tennis retail shopping experience!

* Entry—the Neutral Transition Zone: Research shows that shoppers walk faster when their brains can actually process the surroundings they are in. The mistake many retailers make is placing merchandise displays right inside their store entrance—so shoppers blow right by them because they simply can’t process what they are seeing. Make sure your entry has a neutral transition zone immediately inside, even if your store is small, so shoppers have time to slow down, and for their brains to catch up and get oriented to your store’s shopping experience. (The “research” we refer to here is from Paco Underhill and his book “Why We Buy,” which we strongly recommend to every tennis retailer.)

* Seating Shows You Care: Space may be tight, but providing ample and comfortable seating in your store shows that you care, and just as importantly, you provide a comfortable place for your shopper’s significant other to sit and relax … so the shopper can focus on shopping.

* Kids Go Everywhere: Provide an area in your store for kids to play, and maybe even to try out some of the 10 and Under Tennis racquets and balls, while the adults shop.

* Turning Right: Research* has shown that after consumers enter a store they will turn to the right if they can, so if your store has a natural right-hand turn, design your space to locate a “power display”—that is, a big, well-lighted eye-catching display in shoppers’ line-of-sight as they walk to the right. If you don’t have a natural right-hand turn, you will still want to locate a power display in your shopper’s line-of-sight as they walk into your store.

* Signage Sells: Shoppers need to understand where they are and be comfortable with the journey through your store, even if it is small. Being able to navigate through effective signage is important to the total shopping experience, and you should use both navigational signs to help shoppers journey while in your store, and to educate and inform about the merchandise they will find on their journey. And remember, shoppers walk in at least two directions, so make sure your signage is facing your store’s shoppers no matter what direction they are walking.

* Older Shoppers See Differently: Your in-store signage needs to incorporate type size, print font and colors that will stand out and are easy to read and understand. As we age, the way we see colors changes, and this means certain colors in background, text and lighting will be much more legible to older baby-boomers and seniors. How do you find out? Ask them.

* Nylon Shopping Bags: Make it easier to shop and purchase more by providing a convenient way to carry selections while continuing the shopping experience; another small but consumer-centric way to make your shoppers comfortable in your store so they stay longer.

* Aisles and Strollers: In laying out your store aisles, keep them wide enough to accommodate two adult passing each other without touching, and that often shoppers have kids in strollers—even if you have a small store. Aisles, even if you only have one, are the walkways and paths that guide shoppers through your store environment, and they need to be carefully laid out.

* Change Your Displays as Frequently as Your Best Customers Visit Your Store: If your best customers visit your store every two weeks, change your displays every two weeks. Just getting new fixtures doesn’t mean you change your displays once or twice a year. Research shows that after one or two visits your best customers won’t “see” your displays, or the merchandise featured anymore. This is basic human hardwiring, and you can’t change it…so change your displays to present something new and interesting every time your best customers visit—and you will also increase your store’s average transaction value and the number of transactions you have with your customers.

* Making Your Store “Sticky”: Research also shows that the amount of time a shopper spends in a store actually shopping is perhaps the single most important factor in determining how much he or she will buy. Making shoppers as comfortable as possible while in your store, and providing a pleasing and enjoyable shopping experience, is all about keeping them in your store as long as possible.