Best ways to implement new technologies into spa merchandising

Written by Linda Cahan for Spa Retailer Magazine
Customers want what they want — and they want it for the same
price as on-the-floor units. Remember buying a car and adding
goodies one-by-one rather than buying a package? Customers now
want to do that with their spas.
Combine that need for control with integrated sound systems, jet
and water-temperature controls, and sophisticated circuit boards, and
you get customers who want everything they saw online.
Electronics allow you to customize the visual shopping experience
for your customers as well. Nothing says “future” quite like electronics.
The spas in your stores are becoming more complicated and
electronically sophisticated. But are you adding electronics into your
stores as well?
Brian Dyches is a partner with OpenEye Global, a leading Digital
Experience Design Agency in the United States. Well-versed in the
pool and spa industry and as a designer and consultant, Dyches has
worked with numerous retailers around North America. He designed
an award-winning Hot Springs Spa store and worked with Dimension
One on its retail brand program. He has also spoken frequently in the
industry on retail design and digital branding. Dyches suggests that
if you’re adding just one digital element, start with a monitor behind
the service desk or cash wrap. The other ideal location is if you have a
dedicated soak room with a wall. You have a captive audience in this
A good 50-second (looped) presentation will showcase your work,
increase the believability and authenticity of your brand and begin to
build customer engagement while creating loyalty. Make
sure you tell a great visual story. This is your in-store
advertising. The actual technology needed is a digital
monitor and a media player. These give you the opportunity
and ability to create digital content on your own.
Anne Marie Luthro, owner of AML Insights, has
spent the last 20 years focusing a critical eye on all
things retail- and shopper-centric. She has spent two
decades studying the environmental factors that influence
purchasing decisions and the psychology of shopping
behavior. This research has earned Luthro a reputation
as a leading authority in the industry of retail design.
Luthro loves in-store video as well and knows it
makes the shopping experience very contemporary. But
she prefers to see it on tablets in a minimum of three to
four locations around your spas. She stresses how visually
entertaining and important a visual guide on a tablet can
be to showing how a spa unit looks in different environ-
ments. The content on the iPad/tablet can sell not just
your products but also your expertise, installation and
other services you provide. For example: This is how this
unit looks in a gazebo, in the home, the backyard, with
a built-in deck, etc. This type of content helps put
the shopper in that experience. This also gives you an
opportunity to upsell accessories as well as any unique
installations your company offers.
Both Dyches and Luthro say content is king. If you
do something amateurish, it will downgrade people’s
perceptions about your ability to sell, knowledge of your
products, and your ability to successfully install and
maintain what you sell.
Another important thing to note: This isn’t a Best
Buy (or other local or online retailer) purchase. These
units need to be commercial grade or they won’t last for
any length of time.
Luthro says a poorly running digital display will kill
sales and customer confidence. “Can you do the due
diligence to keep the monitor and program in 100
percent working order?” she says. “If not, don’t do it.
A poorly running digital display shows you can’t handle
the technology. If you can’t handle a monitor, how can
they trust you handle the complicated technology that
goes into their spas?”
Luthro also says it’s not just about the monitor, but
it’s also about the entire presentation. That means it’s a
360-degree display — especially for your female shoppers
who notice everything. No one wants to see the back of a
screen, USB and power cords hanging down every which
way. To look professional, it’s got to have a clean look.
Digital signage is rarely used to its fullest potential.
Both Luthro and Dyches suggest customizing presentations
on tablets. Dyches advises creating a content strategy
where you key in a command to jump to images relevant
to your customers’ desires or questions.
Luthro looks at timing. For example, during the
weekdays, if the bulk of your customers are not at work,
they may be retired. If so, it makes sense to have various
images on your monitors to appeal to different generations’
needs and wants. On weekends, you may be getting
families. If so, images that reflect the fun the whole family
can have with a hot tub will appeal to those customers.
Keep track of the average ages of people coming into
your store by day and time. That information will give
you what you need to customize your media for your
I asked both Luthro and Dyches what they thought
of a large digital screen in your window. Both said it
depends on your drive-by and walk-by traffic. If the
screen can’t be easily seen, it’s a waste of money. But if
you have a store near the street, and cars stop at a light
in front of your store, you have an opportunity to create
an experience for these drivers: images of people enjoying
hot tub life. This is your chance to sell them the fantasy.
You have 40 seconds at most, so skip the words and go
straight to the images.
Luthro talks about “info-fueling,” which is when you
give a shopper enough information so they can ask an
intelligent question. Knowledge is power, and people hate
appearing uneducated — but only you and your staff are
the experts. An FAQ page on each tablet gives customers
the opportunity to learn quickly and figure out what they
need to ask. But, Dyches and Luthro say, you don’t want
only fact sheets on the tablets. Make sure each tablet is
geared to the units nearby and has visuals that inspire a
Written and Interviewed by Linda Cahan.
Linda Cahan is an internationally known expert in visual
merchandising strategy and store design. She gives seminars,
workshops, trains and consults for chain stores and independent
retailers. Along with SpaRetailer, she writes for several other retail
magazines, and is the author of two books and seven corporate
visual standards manuals. Cahan lives in West Linn, Ore.