Thank You, Come Again!

Bringing in a fresh assortment of accessories regularly is an effective way to keep customers coming back, bolstering foot traffic and increasing sales.

The consensus among lighting retailers is that consumers purchase lighting fixtures approximately once every 15 to 20 years — a statistic that makes it difficult to establish customer loyalty and repeat business. The remedy many showrooms are embracing is to add accessories and product categories such as wall art, mirrors, casual furniture, and rugs to their mix. Some of the SKUs are purchased to serve as impulse items while others are chosen to complement the lighting selection as potential “go with” suggestions. The goal is to encourage customers to return often when shopping for new pieces for their home.

Mark Okun, an independent Sales & Digital Marketing Strategist and former VP/General Manager for Restoration Lighting Gallery in Connecticut, is a big believer in offering accessories — and he was diligent about advertising the fact that the showroom offered much more than lighting.

“Some items were purchased for impulse sales – such as bracelets and candles under $30 – yet many customers would come in looking for gifts and accessories as we became known (thanks to the advertising and word of mouth) for unique items. We even sold special candles for over $350 each,” he comments. “The category must be promoted both in advertising and as part of the sales team’s planned presentation. Think of them as props to sell other items that also happen to be for sale.”

At Lighting Inc. in Texas, Gabriel Trinidad reports, “Hands down large wall art is the hottest accessory category for us right now. It’s about even between impulse buys and business from repeat designers. We buy for four locations so freight and shipping is easy. The challenge is to special order just one piece, because the freight [cost] kills you and more than likely it gets damaged. We try to sell what we have and avoid special orders.”

Lisa Dixon of Pace Lighting in Georgia has had a lot of success with impulse buys. “We want to bring people in with our accessories and give them a reason to visit us regularly, but right now accessory sales are the items they pick up while they are here looking for lighting and ceiling fans. In particular, large good quality, inexpensive art and tabletop items do well for us. Candles have been hit or miss, but we do well with them in the fall around the holidays.”

At The Lighting Studio, also in Georgia, Susan Erwin has discovered customers responding to the Magnolia Home license/brand. “I carry Magnolia Home rugs [from Loloi], and that has been a big draw to get people into the store who otherwise wouldn’t come in if they’re not in the market for lighting. The cool thing about buying into the Magnolia Home line is that you have full access to the logos and Joanna Gaines’ images, ” she notes, adding, “If I’m working with a lighting customer, lots of times they end up buying a rug or some accessories because they see them displayed.”

For Michelle Mailand of ES Lighting in Kansas, “Our best accessories have been the unique and funky, like bar accessories, entertaining items, or hostess-type gifts. Framed mirrors have been a good accessory for us, as well as handmade leather furniture; however, we don’t have a furniture store in town to compete with us. We buy the majority of accessories at the June Dallas Market and we sell through what we have.”

Okun is an advocate of shopping the Temporaries sections at the major markets, including Finds! at Market Hall across the street from Dallas Market Center, the Cash & Carry areas (for impulse items), and gift shows in New York and Boston. Another great source for what Okun refers to as “uniquities” is combing local craft fairs to partner with artisans. “For example, I found a local glassblower who made colorful glass pen holders that we sold for $40 each. We’d blow through all of them at the holidays,” he recalls. Similarly, the showroom had success with lampworked glass animals. “They were cute but expensive as heck — and we sold a ton of them,” he comments. In the store’s bath section, decorative perfume bottles didn’t just accessorize the vignettes, they were popular impulse items.

Merely having accessories in the store is not enough to move them out the door; the key is to have the sales staff talk up the accessories and ancillary categories. “We’d pick an Item of the Week and discuss how to sell it,” he states. “Nothing sells without a story.”

Accessories and tabletop items are ideal for freshening up the store. “Every Hallmark holiday, we’d re-do the front of the showroom and remerchandise to highlight the occasion (i.e. gifts for Dads & Grads, Mother’s and Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day),” Okun reveals.

Selling accessories in a lighting store will take time, effort, and publicity, but the commitment you make to the category should yield more repeat visits as well as new customers. 

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