Completing your store furniture displays with accessories can woo customers and increase sales.
Story by Susan Morrison • Photography by Christine Hamilton
There’s nothing worse than encountering row after row of sofas, chairs or dining tables when you’re shopping for furniture. Not only can the selection feel overwhelming, but it also makes it difficult for customers to envision those pieces in their own homes.
Stores that successfully sell home furnishings make customers feel right at home while they’re shopping. They do it by featuring displays of entire room settings that look warm and inviting.
Tanner Dipple, a designer at Adobe Interiors in Fort Worth, Texas, finds that accessories make any display look better and help customers understand how pieces can fit together to complete a room. When that happens, the chances of selling multiple items increases.
“Accessories add up,” Dipple says. “They’re good for bringing in those extra sales. I’d say about 20 percent of my sales each month come from accessories. Some can be pretty expensive. You might have lamps that are $300 to $600 each, and table runners from $70 to $200. When you start adding that together, it makes a difference. And you want to sell as much as possible to that customer.
“Why let them walk out with only a dining table if they also need an area rug? They’re going to buy it somewhere, and it might as well be from you.”
When arranging store displays, Dipple follows five simple rules.
1. Start with a core piece.
“You always want to start with a main piece,” he says. “In a bedroom setting, for example, I’ll start with the bed, and work everything else around it. If I’m working with a customer and they like a certain bedding, I’ll start with that. Whatever that core piece is, build around it.”
If a customer picks out one special piece of furniture, Dipple will add to it, and he isn’t afraid to rearrange the store displays to suit the customer.
“If someone likes a sofa but not the lamps displayed with it, I grab some different lamps,” he says. “We do that all the time. We’ll completely strip down a setting and change it so the customer can see something different.”
2. Complete the Room.
Every setting should look as much like it’s in a home as possible, he explains.
“If it’s going to be a living room setup, you want to include things people would really have in that living room,” Dipple says. “You want lamps, end tables, a rug, a sofa table, a console for the TV, and art. You want to have it all set up on the showroom floor.”
Seeing what is essentially an entire room makes customers look at items as something of a package deal, even though they are sold individually.
“This way, when someone comes in looking for a sofa, they might say, ‘Oh, that piece of art looks really good with it.’ It’s an easy way to upsell,” he says. “People are really visual, so if you can create that visual experience for them it really helps.”
3. Light it well.
“Always use lamps,” Dipple advises. “People always have lighting in their rooms. And you want to turn on the lamps so customers can picture them in their homes.”
That includes lamps on nightstands in bedroom displays, and on end tables in living room displays. In a dining room setting in Adobe Interiors, customers will find chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and smaller pendant lights in groups to show what an impact lighting can make. It not only warms up the display, but also gives shoppers a good idea of how it will look in a home setting. And, its placement simply makes sense.
“You want to place accessories strategically, including lighting, because if it’s somewhere random it can be overlooked,” he says.
4. Don’t overdo.
While Dipple is big on accessorizing displays, he also is conscious of each piece of furniture and knows when one needs to sell on its own merits. Adobe Interiors offers many unique and custom items, so Dipple wants to be sure they remain in the spotlight.
A bar-height table in the store, for example, is made of wood with the bark showing on the edges, and is inlaid with turquoise.
“On a piece like that table,” he says, “there’s a lot to it, so you don’t want to be too distracting with your accessories and have them draw attention away from the primary piece.
“You want to use accessories as an accent to the piece, so they complement it and don’t take away from it.
“When you have an unusual piece, keep the accessories as simple as possible.”
The designer says he often uses runners on all varieties of tables, but is careful not to hide the table itself.
“On a copper table, for example, if you put a big runner on it you’ll take away from the table by covering it up, and customers aren’t going to notice it,” he says.
5. Change it up.
One of the easiest ways to let accessories work for you is to move them around.
“You can change the whole look of a setting on the floor just by shuffling the accessories around,” Dipple says. “This works especially well if you don’t have the crew or the room to move the furniture often. When someone walks in the store, even if they’ve been in before, it looks like a lot of new things.”
For example, to draw attention to a sofa that’s been on the floor too long, he will give it a new look by changing lamps, using different art or a different rug.
“I might even change the end tables or cocktail table,” he says. “Even just using different pillows can give that piece a different look.”
This article was originally published in the Spring 2016 issue of WLR.