Cash Sales Merchandising
Showcasing Your Wares
Sponsored by: Transcend
As threats to Medicare funding have ramped up,
retail sales have grown to become a pivotal way for
providers to regain lost revenue. But, while retail
sales represent an opportunity, they also represent
a set of new lessons to learn. As providers dive into
cash sales opportunities, they are realizing that the
waters aren’t necessarily as shallow as they initially
Now, HME staff must learn new ways to work
with patients to determine their retail needs in more
of a sales fashion, while still maintaining a collaborative
approach. Similarly, they are learning how
to foster the sorts of customer services skills that
will ensure long-term client relationships. HME
businesses are also increasing their retail marketing
efforts so that they better understand their patient’s
and local market’s retail HME needs, and then
reaching out to those constituents with not only the
right product, but at the right prices and using the
most effective messages. Moreover, they are learning
how to integrate their retail operations with their
funded operations, so that inventory, patient records
and other “back office” systems mesh with one
And one of the key lessons providers are learning
is merchandising. In the mainstream retail world,
merchandising is a unique skill set that at the highest
levels is its own job title. Top merchandisers possess
abilities that fall somewhere between science and art
in terms of increasing sales revenues.
What Is Merchandising?
Chances are you have heard of merchandising in the context of how products
are arranged within a store, or how a storeroom looks, but merchandising
encompasses more than simple arrangement or aesthetics. If anything
merchandising represents some considerable strategic thinking.
Effective merchandising attracts and invites a shopper to enter the store,
then it convinces them to interact with it and truly go shopping by moving
through the retailer’s wares to investigate what is available. Signage, displays,
arrangement and shelving all contribute to the merchandising process.
A key element to any successful merchandising strategy is displaying the
product. Retail clients need to see how the product looks, how it works and
want to be able to interact with it so that they can see how the product will
benefit them. So, products must not only be shelved in an organized way, but
they must be “presented” to customers. The idea is to come up with ways to
engage the patient. A great way to do this from an HME perspective is to display
items in such a way that they look like a room from any home. This gets
the patients and their families and caregivers thinking about how that DME —
and the related cash products — would look in their homes.
Also point-of-purchase displays are an important element in merchandising.
Not only can they help the retailer add an “impulse buy” to a
customers purchases for that transaction, but they can also educate the
patient on the product.
Signage is an important tool in merchandising. When a new or even existing
customer comes into your store, there is no possible way for them to be
familiar with your inventory. Signage is a powerful tool to attract buyers to
new offerings, direct them to things they are looking for, and perhaps get
them to consider goods they might not have had on their shopping list.
They might have come in for compression garments, but they might leave
with a couple grab bars thanks to some attractive signage.
It is important to keep your signage fresh and news. In the same ways
companies constantly change out their advertising on TV, in print and
on the web, providers need to change up their in-store signage to keep
attracting patients to products. Fresh imagery and message are key, and
a great way to do that is through seasonal changes. You can not only use
seasons and special dates to conduct marketing and special offers, but also
use them to create a fresh “feel” to the store through new signage.
Creating the Right Mix
Being that providers are trading in both funded and retail products, they
must consider carefully how to create a good mix between their funded
products and their retail products. It’s very important to have products
placed near complementary items. This is why cereal is located near milk
in grocery stores. So, for providers, sheets and mattress covers are ideally
placed with beds and mattresses, for example.
Moreover, merchandising plans for retail HME not only must incorporate
pairing retail and funding products for display in the showroom, but also
need to keep things fresh. This speaks to creating new shopping “experiences”
for longtime customers. Rearranging what is in the store every three
or four months is a great way to get patients coming back, and perhaps
Points to take away:
- Merchandising is a key element in successful HME retail sales efforts.
- It represents offering the right products, in the right arrangement, and
presented ways that get customers to explore and buy.
- Signage and displays are critical in this. They help the patient not only
navigate the store, but attract them to specific products and consider
- Mixing retail and funded products is critical.
- Signage, displays and showroom arrangement should be changed on a
regular basis to keep customer interest fresh.
Call your vendors. Many manufacturers in the HME space not only offer
marketing tools for reaching out to referral partners and patients, but also
offer a wide rage of merchandising tools such as in-store displays, brochures
and signage that are perfect for retail sales efforts.
This article originally appeared in the June 2012 issue of HME Business.