Mary Ann Kelly, President of Platinum Lighting Concepts in Cranberry Township, PA, is brutally aware of the threat online e-tailers pose to her small lighting showroom. But Kelly understands that her brick-and-mortar store has something the Internet does not: the power to build a connection with customers and to become an expert they know and trust — one that’s worth traveling a distance for.
“I feel very strongly that lighting showrooms are a destination business,” Kelly says. ”The huge changes that are going on in our industry right now with light bulbs alone have made us relevant again, and we need to earn our customers’ trust through sharing our knowledge with them.”
To help her put her ideas into motion and to position her store as one that folks will go through hell and high water to get to, Kelly turned to retailing expert and past American Lighting Assn. (ALA) Conference speaker Jon Schallert, whose Destination University boot camp has become a popular program among lighting retailers.
“The lighting business is unique in that it’s an extremely competitive industry with products sold across multiple channels,” Schallert says. “At the same time, the selection is so diverse, and new technological advancements are constantly changing [the landscape]. I truly believe there is unlimited growth potential for lighting stores that can master the destination concept and turn their establishment into a valuable resource [to which customers come] from miles around.”
Kelly attended Destination University in June 2012, and her store has already made some important strides.
One of the biggest things Kelly has done since attending Destination University is plan a series of in-store educational events that bring in customers from far and wide.
“For our first event, we invited builders and electricians in to show them some of the new LED products available and to educate them on the installation and application,” Kelly says.
With one successful event under its belt, Platinum Lighting Concepts is gearing up for more events that highlight its staff’s product expertise.
“I know that turning our store into a destination is the right move for us, and thanks to these events and some other things we’re doing like capitalizing on social networking and website optimization, our sales are up, and I see that trend continuing,” Kelly says.
Sales are also up for Doug Monckton, co-owner of Texas Bright Ideas and another recent Destination University alum. After attending the retailer boot camp, Monckton has focused his efforts on creating high-impact in-store displays that customers won’t see anywhere else in the area.
“For example, right now we have a portable lamp display right when you walk in the door,” Monckton says. “You can’t miss it, and we change that display out monthly. We also do an amazing crystal display. We’re the only store that does that in our area, so customers will come to us from the surrounding towns for crystal.”
His efforts seem to be paying off.
“We have two showrooms in Harker Heights and Georgetown, and there are a lot of smaller towns in between and around us,” Monckton says. “To ensure the success of our business, we need to draw these folks in. Jon Schallert’s direction to really focus on wowing our customers with our displays has been right on. We’re getting some great feedback and seeing an increase in traffic.”