Auto Service World
Feature   September 1, 2001   by Auto Service World

Market Feature: 10 Tips On: Effective Lighting Merchandising

Lighting products fall into two general categories: replacement lighting and accessory or upgrade lighting.

While standard replacement bulbs are suitable for self-serve setups, the difficulty in displaying many lighting products is compounded by the need to provide some sales assistance.

Here are some tips to help you do just that, and get the sale:

1) Lighting products are not always self-explanatory. Even replacement bulbs can cause some consumers difficulty in deciding what is right. A lighting display should be positioned so that a counterperson can easily assist the consumer.

2) Wall displays are particularly effective for showing off accessory lighting products. Some manufacturers have powered displays that are very effective at showing the difference in lighting products. Failing this, a handy counterperson could wire up a safe, effective 12-volt display, but don’t settle for a slipshod result.

3) A minimum selection of lighting upgrades is probably a half-dozen. These would cover fog and driving lights from the $50 range up to $400 and more with the advent of gas-discharge (HID) lighting options. Selection of the right assortment should be based on your customer base first, not just the inventory investment dollar.

4) Price the product. While some jobber/retailers may feel that leaving the price off means the customer has to talk to them–giving them a chance to begin a sales pitch–there is more likelihood that the customer may just walk out of the store. If the concern is over price updates, consider that the margin was already considered into the original price when it was purchased by the store. Any increase in that part’s price that you do manage to post on the package or display would be in addition to that.

5) Position the display in a highly visible location, possibly right beside the counter. This helps a busy counterperson be aware of a customer’s interest in the lighting products, and helps to discourage the five-finger discounts. Even some bulbs can be quite expensive, and easily concealed, so pay particularly good attention to how you display the expensive items. The higher priced items should be located higher up on the display, above shoulder height. This puts them in a good location to be viewed by the customer, and you.

6) Customer profiling is an important step in both selecting the assortment to display and in engaging a customer in a discussion. As early as possible, determine what the primary concern is for the customer. If he is looking for lights to mount below the bumper on a modified Honda Civic, he is likely more concerned with how they look than what he can see. Still, this should not stop you from briefly discussing the higher-quality options (“These are really fabulous lights, and they work great. They’re $200 a pair”), as long as you’re aware that the customer may not opt for them (“But these ones look good and are pretty popular. They’re only $60 a pair”).

7) Help customers understand that there are many options for accessory lighting beyond what is on display–have clean catalogs handy–and that mounting options have been developed for most vehicles, even with the proliferation of molded plastic bumpers.

8) Customer discussions should involve as much handling of the product as practically possible. It may even require a counterperson to walk out to the customer’s vehicle with sample product to show him what it might look like when installed, particularly for any high-end product.

9) Older customers may be prime prospects for lighting upgrades, whether as added lighting units, or upgrade bulbs. Night vision deteriorates as we get older and the added cost of the upgrades is not much. Make it a habit to suggest the option either verbally or with strong display signage.

10) It may seem like an old clich, but when selling replacement bulbs, sell them two at a time. If one headlight bulb has worn out, the other may not be far behind. Consider special pricing for pairs. Even if it means taking a bit of a hit on your percentage margin you’ll increase your dollar margin. Considering that the chance the customer will come into your store the next time a bulb burns out may be close to zero should help to clarify the issue.