A hot zone, as I call it, is a prime real estate area in your store where your customer, having made the decision to enter your store, will decide whether to keep shopping or turn around and walk out. It’s often located inside your front doors and it’s crucial for any shop, as it is often the first point of physical contact a customer will have with your merchandise.
Treat your hot zone like a window display, it’s the first impression that a customer has of the inside of your store. You must make an impression here in order to convince the customer to stay and shop.
What is the point of a hot zone?
Many retailers overlook the significance of this area and dive straight into bulk merchandising displays or fixtures packed with stock. Be very careful here, as I have seen retailers literally build a barrier full of stock, and then wonder why customers don’t come in (unless you are a supermarket or in the business of bulk merchandise, avoid having the front of your store look like a supermarket aisle).
Remember: The customer has just entered your store and if your hot zone could have a conversation with the customer, it would go something like this:
Welcome. I have an excellent offer for you today. A new arrival of Y product at X price in the following colours, which also can be matched with Z product and look here: We have it set up on display so you can see it all together and if you purchase two of Y today, you are entitled to Z for free. Oh and look right here again: ready to purchase? Please help yourself to as many Ys and Zs as you want!
A well-merchandised hot zone tells the story of product, price, promotion and presentation and it usually takes up approximately 10 per cent of your overall retail space. If you do not have this dedicated space in your store, I strongly recommend that you make space for it and plan it out.
How do I merchandise this area?
The very best of your products should be merchandised here. Treat the hot zone like another window – put your best foot forward here, with a mixture of things:
New arrivals, hot in-demand fashion lines, applicable seasonal lines and promotional lines. For example, this is where you would place your World Cup soccer paraphernalia and your Valentine’s Day-themed products. Look to merchandise one or two product stories at most. Remember to make a strong statement and avoid bits and pieces of product.
Use fixtures here that carry a decent amount of stock and that allow the customer space to shop from. Avoid cluny, old and out-of-date fixtures here. First impressions are key.
Props and furniture
These are optional. If you want to draw attention, add interest and further support the product display, relevant props and furniture are most useful in this area.
Signs, Posters and Tickets
The use of a graphic image, price tickets or marketing message in this area will only reinforce the product statement you are making.
This area is great for promotional merchandising, whether Christmas is around the corner or you’re going to celebrate Chinese New Year. Think of it like this: whatever is hot and happening in the marketplace or in your industry should be reflected in your hot zone.
This is an edited extract from Retail Revamp: The No-Nonsense Guide to Visual Merchandising and Display by Carol Bagaric.