Despite having a store network of more than 300 stores, Topps Tiles recognises that its shoppers are browsers first and foremost – preferring to research via the company’s online store before visiting a showroom in person. To this end, how well the company merchandises its products online is vital. More than 75% of the retailer’s customers use the website at some point and 99% visit a store, so an innovative merchandising strategy that embraces both channels is crucial to the company.
In a 2014 report, Topps Tiles had already boasted of rolling out its latest display and merchandising treatments across its entire estate – including new natural stone displays, extended use of image boards, new counters and navigational signage, accessory displays, and clearer pricing and POS materials. In September, it said it was trialling further merchandising changes in-store.
Online, the company is also seeing continued success with its online room Visualiser. The online tool was initially launched in April 2015, and allows customers access to multiple room sets and more than 1,3000 tile choices. The tool allows customer to select a blank room to decorate, choosing the products and grouting of their choice. They can make further edits, such as rotating tiles or changing laying patterns to make a more informed buying decision based on how a room will look. Users are also able to email, print or share their decorated room via social channels – enabling them to get the all-important peer feedback that could cement their buying decisions. As well as being available online, the Visualiser is also available via in-store iPads, which have been rolled out to Topps’ entire store network.
“Visual aids are a staple piece of kit for many tilers and tradesmen, so that they can show customers how their bathroom or kitchen will look before they are confident in their choice of tiles,” said Sian Austen, head of online for Topps Tiles in April. “But increasingly, we’ve seen that consumers want to fully visualise and experiment for themselves too, whether embarking on their own DIY projects or specifying their own tiles. The Visualiser lets the individual become the designer, and play with different styles and ideas within a great virtual space before they buy.”
However, the Visualiser wasn’t the only merchandising change at the time. It accompanied a wider online makeover, which saw the creation of a style and inspiration section on the company’s website, designed to better show off products and inspire customers. The new section launch included a new blog featuring hints and tips from top interior journalists and stylists, a Topps Tiles look book, customer images and a selection of how-to videos – the latter an increasingly important option for retailers looking to inspire customers in the field of DIY.