Karin Zaghi is Professor at the L. Bocconi University and Senior Lecturer of SDA Bocconi, where she coordinates the “Trade Marketing” and “Atmosphere and Visual Merchandising” courses. Author of Visual Merchandising. Orientamenti e paradigmi della comunicazione del punto vendita (FrancoAngeli, 2014) [Visual Merchandising, Trends and Paradigms of Communication of the Point of Sale], Visual merchandising e relazioni di canale (FrancoAngeli, 2013) [Visual Merchandising and Channel Relationships] and Atmosfera e Visual Merchandising (FrancoAngeli, 2008) [Atmosphere and Visual Merchandising], as well as numerous managerial publications, for years she has been a consultant in the field of marketing and visual merchandising.
A true expert on the subject with whom we have shared the new role of the point of sale, in particular in the market of optics.
Mrs. Zaghi, in your last book you discussed the subject of visual marketing and relationships with customers in depth: what is the role of the point of sale today?
Let’s start with a fact: the point of sale must offer value to the customer visiting it. It can no longer simply promise it. It is no longer enough. In short, it means completely or almost completely overturning a modus operandi rooted, widespread, prevalent in our product-based commercial culture.
Do you see this problem also in the optics industry?
Everywhere. We cannot deny this, even in the opticians’ point of sale there only appears to be product: glasses on top of glasses (sometimes in the real sense of the term) together with accessories, so many that they almost disappear. The proof of this is the fact that often when working with opticians, just ordering the display, avoiding several different brands from being displayed in the same space, leads to a significant increase in terms of both profitability and productivity, managing to assign space depending also on the margin.
At the same time, a more orderly and defined display makes it possible to improve the satisfaction of the customer who finally manages to see the assortment, evaluating clearly and immediately the individual brands which can thus be enhanced more effectively. Furthermore, the point of sale is not just about the product.
It seems that shops have remained slightly behind in terms of what the consumers expect. How can visual merchandising improve this relationship?
Today we need to change once and for all if we want people to decide to become and remain customers of a point of sale. First of all, we must communicate and emphasize the offer to consolidate an interaction with the customer, which now more than ever must go beyond the purchase. If the value of the visit rests in the experience, visual merchandising is its foundation. The space communicates, conveys, “sells” the image of the point of sale: an image that does not depend exclusively on the mix of products and services offered, but also on the atmosphere that influences the perception that customers experience, first when they see from the outside and then when they visit the point of sale.
An atmosphere that, therefore, identifies the very personality of the point of sale. Customers who enter and walk around the space must recognize themselves in a style made up of environment, circumstance and values. What the point of sale must transmit is the possibility of living the experience of the brands, by creating and conveying emotions. In the same way, settings that adapt to the decision-making criteria of the customer facilitate the choice, making it more stimulating and pleasant from the experience point of view.
And then, let’s admit it, who likes to visit points of sale where the entire operation is based on purely functional logic with the sole objective of selling? Points of sale where the person becomes a customer only if they buy something, otherwise they simply remain a visitor, and let’s be frank not welcomed much, because experienced as purely and simply a waste of time.
So you suggest conveying more emotion and using communication more to involve the visitors. Can we give a final advice to the opticians reading this?
For everyone, starting today, there must be a single objective: to create relational environments that are designed, planned and managed so that they become, above all, sources of pleasure. To experience a visit and purchase that is not only filled with stimulation, but also an opportunity to consolidate the relationship with the products, the brands and especially the point of sale.