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Integrating Backdoor Living

How to display outdoor products in a hot tub store

When you barely have space to show your spa selection, where can you carve out more for a backyard-living area? Choosing between two floor units or a new display area can be tough. But outdoor living spaces are the newest trend in home design; every shelter magazine is showing them. Having one could make the rest of the store look more interesting and current.

The front decompression area of your store is where the customer walks in, stops, scans the store then chooses which way to walk. If you watch how your customers navigate your store over a week, you’ll know their preferred route. If they turn right, carve out space along the right wall in a focal area. A wall is helpful because you can work off it as in a real house. For example, add shingles to the wall to indicate it’s part of the house. Make sure to cap both sides of the shingles so the area is contained and the shingles look finished.

Once the side of the house is created, figure out what to add based on what you are selling. Outdoor furniture, fire pits, grills — both built-in and portable and accessories — will generate additional sales for your store. Adding furniture doesn’t mean you have to carry a bunch of lines; choose one and the items within that line. If you want to show a built-in outdoor fireplace/grill, against the wall may be your best option.

In the actual outdoor living area, the décor should be simple and elegant. Only show accessories that an upscale customer would have in their home. The more accessories you display, the fewer people see the big items you want to sell.

Figure out a color theme for this area. Taupe is the way to appeal to most people. Yes, it’s used to death in every model home — but you can give it life with colorful accessories. If the furniture is all shades of taupe and beige, and the hot tub is a darker taupe along with a grey/stone fire pit or barbecue, add graphic black and white pillows along with a colorful polypropylene rug. If the rug has some taupe, black and white plus a bright color, put one or two pillows of that bright color on the couch along with the black and whites. It will look very current and chic. Black and white plus a bright color (red/yellow/orange/hot pink) attracts the most attention. Pillows and rugs are your go-to accessories to give life to the beige world. Sell them or change them out to make the display area feel fresh.

Add good-quality potted trees or bushes to this area, too. They add color, texture and the feeling of being outdoors.

Low shelving units can comfortably and neatly hold a lot of pillows. Never display them on the floor; they will be perceived as dirty even if your floor is clean. Tiered tables or other low, matching shelving units can hold accessories. On the tops of the shelving units, show a grouping of accessories from the shelves below that work together. That will encourage multiple sales. Place a strawberry-print pitcher with matching glasses on a red tray. Add a few good-quality fake strawberries in some of the glasses for extra pizazz.

This area will visually influence the rest of the store, making everything feel more interesting and creative. The impression often lasts throughout the shopping experience, as long as the rest of your store is neat, clean and has décor elements that evoke the outdoors. These could be towels that match a major color in the new area (other than taupe), or similar trees or bushes. Keep the display area elegant, restful and appealing, and people will spend more time in your store, giving you more time to create relationships and sales.

Mix round or oval tables with a square seating layout to create better flow. People are unconsciously uncomfortable around sharp corners and edges. Add outdoor-type potted flowers instead of indoor flowers. Make this as realistic as possible.

If you sell accessories, don’t mix and match; pick one matching group to show in the outdoor home area at a time. Keep colors and patterns matching, too, so as not to distract from the larger merchandise.

Built-in kitchens are also a major trend for outdoor living areas. You don’t want to sell what you don’t make money from, so this would only work if your company built them, sold prefabricated versions or partnered with another company. If you are showing a lot of appliances, it makes sense to get money for these either from the company loaning them for this display or partnering with you. Don’t just buy them for show. Make money off everything on your selling floor!

Rather than having a wall with photos, I prefer a photomural — think rolling hills with a far-off mountain — showing the outdoor view from this kitchen. A painted mural would be just as good, if not better. Even if someone is installing an outdoor kitchen/living area and the home next door is 20 feet away, this is about illusion and aspiration. If they see it in your store, they’ll perceive it will look that way in their home.

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