A 'robust' retail push

Medtrade 2012 Retail Design Center larger, more detailed than last year
Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Retail sales can be a very strong business for home medical equipment providers and it is time they started flexing their muscles, creators of the Medtrade 2012 Retail Design Center say.

To demonstrate the enormous potential that retail sales can have for the HME industry, this year’s exhibit has been expanded to 4,500 square feet, up from 3,000 square feet in 2011. Conceived and assembled with the help of VGM and KC Store Fixtures, the center is a simulated home setting that showcases products with vignettes of a bathroom, bedroom, stairway and family room.

“A picture is worth a thousand words, and a three-dimensional model you can walk through probably says 10,000 words,” said Kevin Gaffney, Medtrade group show director. “Even providers with limited space can likely take away valuable nuggets of information.”

The accessible home model worked well last year, says Gaffney, but the 2012 edition shows “the time is right for a more robust retail emphasis.”

Visiting the center also gives Medtrade attendees the opportunity to meet with consultants who can analyze, evaluate and recommend ideal store set-ups, Gaffney said.

Rob Baumhover, director of VGM’s Retail Programs, says the larger space reflects how retail has grown in importance for the HME industry. By including more products and details on the importance of cash sales, the exhibit effectively shows how “the more control you have on your margins, the better off you’ll be in the long run,” he said.

Retail has long been a focus at Black Bear Medical in Portland, Maine. President Jim Greatorex has been a prominent voice in the call for HME companies to shift away from Medicare and into cash product sales.

“Diversification is our savior and in most markets, the retail opportunity is still quite viable,” he said. “Very few markets have two companies doing it, so the market is still evolving. You just have to recognize that it is different from the rest of the business we do.”