Micro Center's recently implemented strategy of increasing local advertising tied with several in-store merchandising changes made during the past year has generated some very positive results, the retailer reported.
Kevin Jones, Micro Center's merchandising VP, updated vendors at RetailVision, held here recently, on past and upcoming changes at the 19-store computer specialty chain. The improvements included advertising in local community papers, instituting a planogram for its stores, improving sales associates' ability to close sales and increase the number of entertainment and gaming SKUs.
The move toward small, weekly newspapers allows the chain to tap into smaller pockets of customers near its stores that are missed by the company's normal newspaper and direct marketing efforts, Jones said.
“We traditionally focused on direct mailers to our existing customer base, but now we are taking our ads down to a community level where we can dominate. This is much better than just adding another flyer to the Sunday paper,” Jones said.
Micro Center's research has found that 70 percent of the people receiving these small papers read the inserts and the papers have close to 100 percent penetration in the desired neighborhoods. The results have been an almost 40 percent increase in sales for the local Micro Center branch.
One of the more radical changes for the chain is implementing a planogram-based floor layout. Micro Center historically left a store's layout up to its general manager, but this was no longer proving efficient. However, the company did not want to totally dampen the GM's influence.
There are three levels of planogram being discussed: a product-specific version that states a certain product must be placed in a specific spot; an area-specific type that states certain products must be displayed in a designated part of the store, but the final layout is left up to the GM; and a store-level version where the local staff decides how to set up a product category in a designated place in the building.
A focus on closing the sale and increasing add on purchases has taken on a prominent place in the company, Jones said. In the past, giving the customer a great explanation of a product and its benefits was sufficient. Instead of simply letting a now very knowledgeable customer wander off to another store, the sales associates now push to complete the sale.
The final area Micro Center intends to continue to push is entertainment and gaming. The chain has expanded its HDTV product mix. Each store now has dozens of flat-panel TVs, all of which are connected to a PC to keep with Micro Center's computer heritage. More emphasis is also being placed on console and PC gaming, Jones said.