Retail expansion: Evolve your showroom experience

Monday, December 1, 2014

We know that retail sales demand for HME is soaring. But how can providers both big and small fully utilize the opportunity?

The market drivers

The explosion of the health and wellness category has expanded into the mobility segment of the HME industry, and for good reason: Demographic data is coming to fruition. As of Jan. 1, 2011, America’s 78 million baby boomers began turning 65 at a rate of one every 10 seconds. That’s 262,800 individuals per month, and the wave continues for the next 18 years. Combine that with the average U.S. life expectancy of 78.7 years—up eight years form 1970—and you have a clear culminating trend. There’s tremendous HME opportunity in these active individuals wishing to stay fit, active and mobile. 

Translating data into sales

For providers in the HME space, this demographic translates into more “cash sales.” As it becomes increasingly difficult to receive reimbursement for products or as all the red tape frustrates consumers, they or their caregivers are more willing to pay out-of-pocket. Too often, some providers still think the person walking in the door will have a physician’s script for a particular product. We need to change this mindset and look at that person as a retail selling opportunity. Even if they do have a script, there are hundreds of opportunities to increase the sale via adds on, bundle packages and bump ups. Don’t overlook the opportunity to incentivize your sales staff by offering a commission on cash products and accessory sales. Many manufacturers have identified the trend toward cash sales and are offering an increased selection of non-coded cash products to meet this need. 

Meeting the market

In marketing effectively to this demographic, providers must prepare to meet consumers’ expectations by following retail best practices. A few examples of retail best practices are location, advertising, showroom merchandising, product selection, name brands, employee knowledge and excellent customer service.  

The showroom is your opportunity to make a first impression. It is the opportunity to create an image or lifestyle for the consumer as to what products may suit them and their home. This can be accomplished with lighting, furniture, plants, throw rugs and artwork. The showroom needs to be well planned, allowing the consumer to easily maneuver among the different products you offer. If you offer scooters, power chairs, manual chairs, walkers and rollators, have an area where consumers can test drive or use the product to determine if it is the right product for them.

A well-merchandised showroom needs products, period. Selection sells. Consumers want choices and options, especially when paying cash. Historically, top lift chair and scooter retailers have the largest selection of product and options available. A retail best practice is to always start with high-end products and work down, if needed. Using lift chairs as an example, consumers want to experience different sizes and fabric offerings. Plush feels good, and when consumers can feel the benefit, they’re more likely to buy. Having higher-end chairs on the floor allows consumers to experience the comfort and makes an easier sale. 

Of course, traffic flow in and around merchandizing is vital. Have you ever noticed that the most honed pharmacy chains feature a very deliberate traffic pattern lined with merchandizing displays between the entrance and the pharmacy counter? Customers enter for what they need, but they are compelled by unexpected merchandise that also ties into their demographic. This principle holds true for HME showrooms. Have products like lift chairs, for example, amid the traffic flow where consumers will naturally touch them and sit in them as they pass by. Any time consumers are in proximity to engage with a product, they’re much more likely to buy it. 

Make no mistake, HME retail sales are just that—retail sales. By understanding consumers and building a showroom environment that ties into their instincts, you’ll see sales flourish.

Andrew Pyrih is a 20-year veteran of the HME industry and senior vice president of domestic sales for Pride Mobility Products.