Let Your Customers Turn On the Lamp

By MARK RIFFEY, for the Flathead Beacon.

What’s the first thing you do when deciding which lamp to buy?


Recently I visited a office supply box store because, among other reasons, no locally-owned store carries the oddball item I needed.

While there, I took a quick glance at the desk lamps on display. None of the lamps on display worked. Why? Because none of them had power.

A quick glance at the shelf left the impression that no power was available at that location, though it’s possible that a breaker was blown or a not-visible power strip was turned off.

The reason for the lack of power doesn’t really matter. What’s important about this is that none of the lamps worked.

Would you buy a lamp that you could not turn on? Maybe. Maybe you’d wait. Maybe you’d go elsewhere.

Would you be more likely to buy a lamp that you could turn on? Probably so, and you’d also be more likely to get the lamp you really wanted or needed.

Build a picture in their mind

When I visited this store, lamps were scattered in every direction on a narrow metal shelf.

When you look at lamps on a metal shelf like this, it isn’t in the normal environment for a lamp. Result: It’s hard to visualize them on your desk and thus more difficult to choose just the right lamp. You might just leave and buy nothing, which is not what the store wants you to do.

A desk lamp’s natural habitat is (obviously) a desk.

What if the unboxed lamps were on a desk (maybe even two per desk if the number of desks is limited) with a computer monitor and other items you’d normally find there.

Ideally, that desk would have a chair and you could sit down, get comfortable like you do at your own desk. You could move the adjustable lamps up, down and around to decide whether a particular model would work for you, and/or slide the non-adjustable ones around to see if they’d meet your needs.

Imagine how easy it would be to create this setup in a store with office furniture and different sized computer monitors…just like this one has.

The difference between your store and theirs

It’s unlikely that you’d find this “lamp on a desk” scenario in a national box store whose store layout is driven by plan-o-grams sent from the corporate office, but it’s exactly what a locally-owned store could (and should) do.

Even a corporate-owned chain store could do this if the management is given the flexibility to do whatever it takes to make it easy to buy – but that isn’t always the case.

Give your customers the opportunity to see your products in a place that makes it easy for them to buy. In the case of a lamp, seeing that item in their home or office is easier with a desk setup to mimic the lamp’s “natural habitat”.

Yes, it’s common sense. Yes, it’s simple. How many times have you seen this done?

But I don’t sell lamps!

Ever buy a snowblower? It’s a bit of a crapshoot until you get that beast home and use it to tackle the next big dump that blankets the Flathead. Sure, a demo model will take a little bit of abuse, but how many blowers would it sell if your customers were able to test it in the parking lot? If it’s good enough for a Chevy, it’s good enough for a Briggs and Stratton.

While it’s unlikely that a national chain would go for this sort of thing, a locally-owned store could do it.

Better audio stores have done this for years. While their gear might not take the kind of abuse a snowblower could, they still have to deal with damage. Yet they know that a viewing/listening room helps customers visualize that gear in their own home.

Bottom line: Make it as easy as possible for your customers to make the right choice based on the right information so they can take home the thing they really want and need.


Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a business, operations, or marketing problem? See Mark’s sitecontact him on Twitter, or email him at mriffey@flatheadbeacon.com.

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