Merchandising Incremental Products

Posted on: August 23rd, 2017 by Rob Baumhover

 

Why Merchandise? 

So far, we have discussed how to select the right incremental products and the importance of a fully trained staff for the success of selling cash products. Now, let’s dive into the merchandising of those products and how merchandising does, in fact, help sell a product.

Many customers are focused on store experience, merchandising is one element that aids in creating a great store experience for your customers. Customers today expect to come into a clean and well-organized store, and when they don’t it really turns them off. I would be willing to put money on some of you, as customers have even walked out of a store because it didn’t meet your expectation. I know, I have. Studies show, the more comfortable someone feels in a space the more likely they will spend there, and the longer they stay in your retail store, the better the chance you have to maximize sales. Let’s maximize those sales and look at a few tips and tricks around merchandising your space, so you can better catch your customer’s attention and make them feel comfortable and welcome.

Tip: 

Merchandise all like products into categories (ex. all CPAP items together), this creates a “mini store” or what I like to call, “a store within a store.” By organizing your store like this, it makes it easier for your customers to identify quickly where they need to go for specific products. Next, it also gives your customer a chance to snag related products, effortlessly, in one location.

Next Steps:

Once all products are allocated together, creating a store within a store, retailers should focus on displaying their products. Here are a few tips centered strictly around visually appealing displays.

First, you will need to determine what you display your products on. Do you have the proper fixture or should it be something you invest in? Don’t use whatever fixture you have or one you picked up at a sale, make sure the products fit the fixture. It’s a complete eyesore if the product doesn’t fit the fixture it sits on and your customers will definitely notice too.

Secondly, you will need to rank the items from best to worst sellers. If you do not have any numbers to go off of due to a new product or product line, use your resources! Vendors, or us, at VGM Retail, are usually readily available to assist. The reasoning behind ranking your best and worst sellers is to give yourself a starting point for the layout of your the space. Remember, place better sellers towards the top of a display, followed by the middle sellers, and then lower sellers at the bottom.

Third, the fun part! There aren’t too many wrong ways to place a product, some people may strip the sections, others may block. Stripping the section means you’re going from top to bottom vertically while, blocking means from top to bottom horizontally. There is also what is called a tiered or waterfall effect, here you start with the smaller items at the top and as you move downward the items get bigger. I personally use all the techniques and believe it’s okay to use all throughout your store.  Just remember to obey the most important rule, always keep your best sellers at eye level.

Fourth and finally, make sure to always merchandise any add on’s (ex. batteries), next to the anchor product. Feel free to display an item or two if space allows. This will give the customer a chance to touch and feel the products. However, make sure not over display a section, as this can cause a cluttered section. I try to keep it to 3-5 displays per 4′ section. To finish off the section, always have a category sign. This will make the section visible to the customers to see and locate quickly. Lastly, do not forget to price the products because there is nothing more frustrating than not knowing the price on something and having to ask.

It’s a Wrap- 

Thank you for reading my latest blog on merchandising. I encourage you to be on the lookout for the final blog in this series highlighting ways to market your new incremental products.

For additional questions, please feel free to reach out to me using my contact information listed below: 

Rob Baumhover

Director, VGM Retail & Vendor Programs

rob.baumhover@vgm.com

855-831-8470

 

Incremental Products: Employee Training

Posted on: August 10th, 2017 by Rob Baumhover

Hello Again,

We last talked about how to find the best incremental products for your DME. Before your staff can sell new products, they need to be trained and comfortable with them. It would be nice if everything we brought in would just sell itself (and some will), but the majority of the time it will need someone knowledgeable to educate the customer. To position these incremental products correctly, let’s talk about staff training and some tips to properly train and keep an employee trained.

First, get the employee(s) input and feedback on the products you plan to carry, as discussed in my last blog. It’s weird but when it’s their idea or even if they were part of the conversation, they seem to get a little more excited about the products and back them more.

Second, as soon as the products come in, allow the staff to test out the items personally (if applicable). There is no better training than hands on training. This also gives the employee a real life testimonial they can use when they are talking with a customer.

Third, set up a time where the vendor who you ordered the product from can come in and give an in-store training on all the features and benefits of the products. This visit is good for a couple reasons, (a) it allows the employees to receive proper training right from the experts themselves, (b) it also allows time for questions and answers, (c) it builds excitement around the products differently than you saying we need to sell these items. “You can only bring home the next best item from a trade show so many times before they look at you and say here we go again.”

Fourth, set up and discuss expectations and any incentives, this way each employee knows exactly what’s expected of them and the team from the get go. There is no bigger let down to an employee than them finding out later that they should be selling x quantity when they were under the assumption that y quantity was great.

Fifth, set up an on-going training program, this should be a mix of vendor training pieces, (could include a webinar, online videos or educational courses, or even a question and answer session over the phone) and in-house training like roleplaying. Roleplaying is a great tool, but typically not a fan favorite out of the gate because it makes folks have to step out of their comfort zone.  This tool will truly give them the best real life scenarios that they will encounter every day. Looking back they will be glad they practiced with friends first.

Thank you for reading my latest blog. I encourage you to be on the lookout for blog #4 highlighting how to properly merchandise/display the products to gauge customer’s interest and help sell.

HOW TO USE ADWORDS

Posted on: August 9th, 2017 by Staci Langel

 

Let’s Break it Down: AdWords

Now that you’re on the AdWords bandwagon – if you’re not, read WHY JOIN THE ADWORDS CRAZE (click this link! ) – now let’s talk about how to set up and manage your AdWords account.

Set AdWords Goals

What are you hoping to get out of your AdWords campaigns? Leads? Sales on your e-commerce site? Brand awareness? This goal affects how you structure your campaigns, the keywords used, the content of the ads, and any other features you use.

Determine Audience

Who is your ideal customer or viewer of the ad? What information are they looking for? Creating a customer persona will help you narrow down what you want your ads to look like and do.

Conduct Keyword Research

Keywords are the words or phrases that are used to match your ads with the terms people are searching for. Selecting keywords that are relevant to your campaign helps you reach the right customers.

Set Budgets and Bids

This is where the money comes in. For each campaign, you set a daily budget and each ad group you set a max cost per click, which will play a role in where or if your ad ranks. We will talk the details of how bidding, quality scores and ad rank work in a future blog.

Relevance is Key

To help you create targeted and specific ads that your customers want to click on, AdWords always suggests for you to make multiple campaigns, multiple ads within those campaigns, each with different goals and target viewers. Making each campaign and ad laser focused will make each dollar and click more effective.

Put on your Creative Cap 

The first step is getting your ads seen. The second is getting people to click on your ads. Writing ads that are compelling and relevant will get people to click on the ad and move to the next step in the process.

Beef up your Landing Page

Your landing page is wherever the ads direct people to. It could be a page on your website, a social media platform, or a data collection form. Relevance comes into play here again. Make sure the landing page gives the information promised in the ad and the information the viewer wants to see. This the difference between conversions and missed opportunities.

Track

Google AdWords provides a plethora of data. It can be daunting at first, but even the information AdWords automatically shows in the default dashboard can give you a good idea of how your ads are doing. Then the more comfortable you get the deeper you can dig.

Optimize

Even the smallest adjustments to campaigns, ads, keywords, bids or content can have a huge impact on the success of your AdWords. Constantly make tweaks and adjustments to see what gets you the best results.

And Finally – Profit!

That’s all there is to it, simple right?… AdWords is a marketing platform that when given the right attention and commitment can be very effective.

Next week, don’t forget to check out my next blog in the series: BIDDING, QUALITY SCORE, AND AD RANK…OH MY!

 

Cash Products & Insurance Driven HMEs?

Posted on: August 4th, 2017 by Rob Baumhover

 

Hello Again,

We last talked about the benefits of carrying cash or incremental products in your store, today I’m going focus on the how-tos. The first thing we need to know is what products should we be carrying? Let’s first start here.

What Should Providers Carry?

There are a few reasons I hear on why providers don’t get into retail, one of those reasons is because there are so many products in the market, providers are overwhelmed about what to choose first. Another is the unknown if and what products will actually sell. Depending on who you ask, every item out in the market is the best, right? Let’s simplify the process, so it’s a no brainer for you to carry incremental products and diversify more of your business towards “CASH”.

To start the process you will need to analyze your numbers to verify your best category. Find the category that brings in the most customers or generates the most revenue, “your bread and butter.” This one shouldn’t be a huge surprise to you.

Now that you have confirmed the category, we will need to identify at least 5-10 products that go with or add on to the item or items you sell the most of in that category. My recommendation here would be to talk amongst your employee base and discuss what they think will sell and what their customers have been asking for. You could also reach out to a trusted vendor partner or a retail expert (I just so happen to know of a few), as they know what is moving in the market place.

Once you have identified some nice incremental products, ordered them, received them, merchandised them, and trained the staff (all topics we will be discussing in upcoming blogs), you’re now ready to recommend/educate every customer on the products. After you build some momentum with this first category, you can then feel comfortable to branch out into other categories and build a very nice profitable cash business.

The Process by Example (See the attached PDF) 

Here’s an example: Let’s say your top category is CPAP. The following items are some great incremental items that we are seeing generate profit. Some products include CPAP pillow and cover, CPAP wipes, batteries, cleaner/sanitizer, hose covers, bedside holder, and a travel/portable machine.

One of our why’s on carrying incremental products was to increase our revenue. All these products have margins between 20%-50%, creating a nice stream of new “immediate” revenue. By carrying these items, it also gives your staff the correct tools they need to truly assist the customer. Customers now have everything they would need to improve their quality of life. In turn, these products make you a customer’s trusted partner, and them a customer for life.

Incremental Sales CPAP PDF: IncrementalSalesFlyer_CPAP

Looking ahead…

Thank you for reading my latest blog. I encourage you to be on the lookout for blog #3, which highlights how to properly train your staff so they can feel confident recommending the new incremental products.

 

You Tell Us!!

Posted on: August 3rd, 2017 by Claire Young

 

We want to hear from you!

As a team, we are always looking for new ways to improve and innovate. Which is why we want to hear YOUR thoughts, our valued readers, related to our VGM Retail Blog. We work for you – with every blog post, we work hard to provide you with content you’re interested in, insights to propel your business, and information to help you navigate the new and changing Caretailing world.

Please take a minute to participate in a short (we promise it’s short) survey about our VGM Retail Blog. Let us know what you’re interested in reading, how we can improve and anything else you want us to know.

Please click the link below and thank you for your time! We look forward to hearing from you.

VGM Retail Blog Survey:

https://vgmgroup.checkboxonline.com/Blog-Survey.aspx

 

 

Why AdWords?

Posted on: August 2nd, 2017 by Staci Langel

WHY JOIN THE ADWORDS CRAZE

Google. AdWords. Geo-targeting. Retargeting. Hashtags. Impressions. Reach. CPC. PPC. SEO. SEM. SERP. CTR. Have I lost you yet?

The ever-changing world of online advertising can be scary and confusing, which is why many people don’t take advantage of the powerful online marketing tools available like AdWords. But AdWords doesn’t have to be scary and can actually have major positive outcomes.

Still not convinced AdWords is for you? How about these four reasons:

AdWords is Measurable

If you’re not into things like graphs, charts, data, or ratios, then AdWords won’t be your cup of tea. If you like knowing how your marketing efforts are performing and how your money is being spent in real-time, you’ll love AdWords. AdWords has endless amounts of information and reports you can run to analyze the success of your ads. But even spending five minutes looking at the default dashboard created by Google, you can learn more about the status of your ads than most other marketing channels.

AdWords is Flexible

Name another marketing platform that you can customize what it looks like, how much you spend on it, who sees it, when they see it, what happens when they see and be able to change all that at the drop of a hat with no penalties or extra costs. Even social media marketing isn’t as customizable as AdWords.

AdWords are taking over Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS)

Go to Google and search the term “Women’s Tops”. How many of the results on the first page are ads or sponsored results? If your results page looks anything like mine, the top four results are ads and the entire right panel features sponsored shopping ads, taking up the majority of my first screen.

Good or bad, AdWords is changing the game of search engine results, and the best way to get noticed is to play the game.

AdWords sync with other marketing efforts

Because of its customizability and fluidity, AdWords can be used in conjunction with several other marketing efforts. The easiest to visualize (and implement) is syncing your Google AdWords account with your Google Analytics account. When these two Google applications talk to each other, you can follow a person through their entire behavior flow – what term they searched, what link they clicked to get to your site, where on your site they traveled, how long they stayed there, and so much more. This allows you to optimize popular areas of your site with great content and design so visitors can find what they’re looking for and more.

AdWords may be overwhelming at first, but don’t give up. The pay-off in the end could be more than worth it.

Stay tuned for my next blog where I’ll talk about how to get your AdWords set up and best practices for managing it.

Understanding Facebook Insights

Posted on: July 26th, 2017 by Staci Langel

ANALYZING FACEBOOK METRICS TO IMPROVE MARKETING

Does your company have a Facebook page? Who manages the page? Are they analyzing (and understanding) the metrics provided by Facebook?

If you answered no to the last question, you’re doing your Facebook page and your company a disservice. Facebook Insights is full of powerful data that can help you make strategic posts that people want to read. We’ll stick with the basics in this article to get you started.

Download Your Facebook Page Insights Files

When on your profile, click Insights on the top navigation bar. In the Overview tab, click the Export Data link.

A pop-up box will appear with three available data types: Page Data, Post Data, and Video Data. We’ll only be using the Page Data report for this conversation, but the other reports contain valuable insights as well. Select Page Data and the date range you’d like to look at (by clicking the drop-down menu). Make sure your File Format is set to Excel, and click Export Data.

Analyzing the Page Data File

When you first open the excel file, you’ll notice Facebook gives you an overwhelming amount of data – don’t panic! The file will automatically open a tab labeled Key Metrics. We’ll stay in this tab for today, but valuable information lies in the other tabs as well.

  1. Likes and Unlikes

Columns B, C, and D show you the total number of people who like your page, the number of new people to like your page each day, and the number of people to unlike your page each day, respectively.  Not only are these the basic stats for you to know if your page is growing in popularity (or decreasing if that’s the case), but also can be a check for peaks on certain days. If certain days stand out, look to see what posts were published on those days. If these posts had good responses, they may have earned you a few new fans.

  1. Reach and Impressions

These two metrics are very similar and are the most often confused. Reach is defined as the unique users who saw your post while impressions are the total views of the post. So a user can scroll through their newsfeed and see your post for the first time, they get counted once in as a reach and once as an impression. If that same user is scrolling in their newsfeed later in the day and they see the same post they saw earlier, they do not get counted again as a reach but they do get counted again as an impression. Your impressions should always be higher than your reach.

  1. Engagement – Comments, Likes, Shares

Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm prioritizes posts based on many things, including the engagement the post is getting. Meaning if your post is continuing to get clicks, likes, comments, or shares, Facebook will continue to place it on more people’s newsfeeds so users can see more of what their friends and family are engaging with. Because of this, engagement is an important metric in determining the popularity of your content.

In column E, you’ll find the number of people who engaged with your content each day. This gives you a general idea of how many people are coming to your page and interacting with your content. It does not, however, tell you what these people were doing (liking, sharing, commenting), only that they did something. To find out what they did, you’ll have to look in a different report.

Now as I’ve mentioned, these data points are only the beginning of what you can learn from your Facebook insights page. All the data that Facebook makes available can be useful in making a strategic posting strategy.

Cash Products? What’s the Buzz?

Posted on: July 25th, 2017 by Rob Baumhover

Introducing Cash Products to an “Insurance Driven” DME.

You’re probably asking yourself why would I add more inventory or a new element to my current business model, and I propose the question back to you WHY NOT? To answer this why, I will be doing a mini blog series with information geared towards introducing cash products into an “Insurance Driven” DME. To start we have to talk about the basics, this first blog will highlight the benefits you and your business will be rewarded if you make the choice to carry cash products in an insurance driven HME.

The Benefits

  1. The 1st benefit to your business is how cash products increase your revenue and bottom line. Now, who doesn’t need or want to increase their bottom line, especially after some of the cuts the industry and you have received? These cash products bring high margins and immediate dollars to the business.

 

  1. The 2nd benefit; by adding incremental products you now offer your customers everything they would need to make their new experience with that product they came in for easier, safer, and convenient. This is achieved by having all their options in one place vs. making them go elsewhere (most likely your competition) to find these same items that your store should be initially carrying. Consumers like options, it’s why we typically don’t buy the basic model when purchasing a vehicle, educate and show customers their options. Cash products promote experience, adds to consumer trust and gives a reason for customers to be lifelong shoppers.

 

  1. The 3rd benefit ties back into benefit 2, by adding and offering additional incremental products to your business, you are providing top-notch customer service. Service that most customers rarely see anymore, especially in the big box world who now carry many of these products. When your customer receives this exceptional service, they will appreciate it and typically pay it forward, either by, making additional purchases or recommending you to a friend or family member.

Now that you know why you should be caring incremental products, be on the lookout for additional blogs on the “How-to Tips” of introducing Incremental Products into an insurance driven HME. We will be looking at everything from, where you should start when choosing the right incremental products, to training the staff on the new products, to product placement, to even how you market them.

In closing, your customers and I believe every HME should be carrying a select number of CASH products in their buildings, stay tuned for my upcoming blogs explaining how to do it successfully.

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“Be careful what you wish for…”

Posted on: July 21st, 2017 by Maria Markusen

“Be careful what you wish for…” is supposedly a very ancient Chinese proverb. Apparently, people have said it since the beginning of time.  Lately, the retail team is secretly mumbling this ancient wisdom under our breath.  Why you ask?

For years the VGM Retail team has said, “Great looking stores are important.   But, great looking stores only matter if you have customers.  Success depends on driving traffic to your stores with a solid, consistent marketing plan.”

Here’s the good news: some of you are paying attention to our saying! Some of you created a marketing plan.  A solid one.  A plan specifically targeted and based on your existing patients and customers.  And some of you even targeted people who you don’t know you yet.  You have been aiming for the customer of whom, you want to show up in your store, so you can wow them with your products, your store environment, and your superior customer service.

You’ve created a real plan. A multi-faceted, multi medium plan.  One that uses a combination of print, radio, tv, direct mail, social media, a solid website and SEO planning.  One that’s tracked daily, weekly, and monthly.  A plan based on data, competition, demographics and the marketing mediums that matter most to your customer in your, specific market.

If good plans are being created, then what’s the problem?  Why again are you VGM Retail people mumbling? You ask, “We’re doing what you told us to do? Sounds like a Goldilocks moment to us.”

Not only have you created the marketing plan, now you’re asking us the hard questions.  The questions marketing experts and professionals ask.  Questions like: What’s the expected return on our marketing investment?  How much should I budget for marketing?  How do I know if my marketing campaign is successful?  How do I prove the numbers to my boss?   How do I know that our marketing spend has value?  Where and how often should I be marketing?  What should it cost me to acquire each customer?  All excellent questions.

So, here’s the conundrum:  we don’t have all of the answers about marketing outcomes yet.  The market place is changing.  And it’s happening fast. Healthcare is the ultimate unknown right now.  What worked before, doesn’t necessarily work now.  And many of the tools we use to market aren’t tested.

Why bother?  Why get expertise?  Why spend 5%, 7%, 10% of expected revenues to generate revenues and drive traffic? Why use social media?  The answer is this:  In an ever-changing environment, the only choice is to do the homework to know your market. Create as much buzz, excitement, and awareness as you can.  Test stuff.  Be thoughtful about the amount you spend.  Budget.  Spend with a laser like focus.  Make sure your website is solid. That people can find you with a search engine.  Budget and track your results. Know that what works in your market, might not work in the next town over.  The only certainty you have is that you won’t have all the outcomes and information for a while, maybe ever.  And finally remember, If you do nothing, you’ll get nothing.  Results and proof are always good.  But right now, that might not be fully possible.

Need a place to start? Read our blogs that focus on marketing tips and trends. Lastly, always feel free to reach out to any of our team members! 

Cattle, Teenagers and #Caretailing?

Posted on: July 19th, 2017 by Maria Markusen

 

Learning from the Unexpected

It turns out, teenagers, like elevators and airplanes can tell us much about the human condition too.  Last week I lost my cool, big time, for the first time, in a long time.  Jim and I spent five days with five 17-year-old boys plus a 12-year-old tween.  One morning we woke up after a heavy rain storm to find hundreds of dollars of fireworks drenched with rain.  Left out overnight.  Ruined.  The drenched fireworks definitely bummed me out. But what got me on my soapbox was the comment that followed, “Well, I mean, can’t we just go get some more?  It’s the 4th of July.” I instantly became an adult.  “Of course not.  Do you think we are made of money?  You guys need to show me you can be more responsible before I buy you anything else.”  The boys sulked.  Jim reminded me, “Not everyone, especially teenagers, agrees with you or understands your values and reasons without some coaching.”

A couple of days later came the next challenge to my values.   It’s the two year anniversary of the word #caretailing.  Greg from Medtrade Monday wrote an article about the anniversary.  He celebrated the reasons why we caretail, what it represents and how retail in DME is evolving.   I was excited.

It turns out not everyone shares our vision though.  Not long after the article was published, I received this message via email, “I am not trying to be obstinate on a Monday, I just continue to try to understand what #caretailing really means.”  To make it worse, it came from someone I really respect.  I started to question the value of the term.  Are we wasting our time with a silly term? Are we actually making any headway in the industry?  Is retail in healthcare really that different?

The Meaning behind Caretailing

We define caretailing as, “The act of providing customer service and expertise to consumers willing to pay cash for health-related products that improve their lives and are beyond the usual scope of Medicare and other third-party payers.”

At the time we created the term, and even now, retail in our industry isn’t fully defined or developed. It’s the Wild, Wild West.  We don’t have one defined store type or process.  We don’t know what retail in DME will look like long term. There are multi versions of retail in DME right now.  Some stores are retail only.  Some stores are combined with related 3rd party business.  Some are owned by hospitals.  Some stores are wildly successful.  Some traditional retailers are trying to get into the business of healthcare retail.  Others fail quickly. Some are successful as soon as they open.  Others take a while to ramp up.  As an industry, and at VGM Retail, we are testing and trying and learning.  Trying to get the model right.

Early in my career, I was an agricultural lender.  One of my wise customers taught me about the cattle herding pause.  One day I described the struggle and slow growth of one of our startups to him.  I was frustrated by the testing, the trying and the learning.  He told me that building a business is like herding cattle. Every once in a while the herd will stall and need to mother up.  It turns out that the calves get separated from the mothers.  And the mothers hold back from following the herd, making sure the calves are safe and close to them.  The herd gets stalled, distracted and fragmented.  The cowboys pause.  Help redirect.  And wait for the herd to form again.  And then move on.

The whole purpose of creating the term #caretailing is to give retail in our space, which is in flux, some real definition.   An attempt to define what makes us different. To focus on the nuance of patient and customer care. To define our values as an industry during a time of change and uncertainty.  To better communicate with our particular consumer.  It’s our cowboy pause.  A constant reminder. A center point.  A place to come back to when we get stalled, distracted and fragmented.  Yes, caretailing is probably similar to good traditional retail. And maybe we won’t need the term forever.  But we haven’t figured out the exact way to make it work yet on a large scale.

To Wrap Up – Challenge and Be Challenged

Just as my teenagers reminded me of my values, the email challenging #caretailing was the best gift of the week.  It propelled us as #caretailers. It redefined our values as a division.  And gave us reason to move forward.  We hope it can do the same for you.