In June, as part of VMSD’s annual store fixture issue, you’ll read about the new spirit of partnership between fixture manufacturers and their clients.
These days, manufacturers are being asked to do more than manufacture. They’re being asked to solve problems, manage projects and know their clients’ needs and goals almost as well as the clients themselves.
I got a taste of how this partnership can work during a recent tour of Grottini Retail Environments in Porto Recanati, a charming little town in the Marche region of eastern Italy, on the Adriatic Sea. The fixture manufacturer not only has a thriving European business, but also a bustling business in the Middle East and Asia and is growing in North America.
Do they make a good product? Yes, they seem to. But they’ve taken the partnership idea even further. Here are just two examples:
● In an office above the manufacturing plant sits a group of architects and designers at their laptops. They can build a store from the ground up; put together a store planning format; or design specific merchandising systems, concept shops or visual programs – a sort of in-house architecture and design firm. But they can also be a partner to the design-firm industry.
And these aren’t just competent technicians who put on a different hat to fill a need. They’re experienced designers and licensed architects with knowledge of both retailing and current technology.
● A division called Grottini Lab has developed an on-shelf sensor system to track when product is getting low on the shelf or is out of stock.
Retailers need to know when product is low, or has been sold out and not replaced, to keep customers from getting frustrated and driving over to a competitor to do their shopping.
And brands can use the information to determine how and when their products are moving, and how well their retail partners are tracking shelf supply.
Ultimately, says Valerio Placidi, sales and marketing director at Grottini Lab, the benefit isn’t the simple snap-on sensor. It’s the information. The system will produce reports that can tell retailers and brands how well or poorly their products are selling; how they perform versus the competition; how they sell based on shelf position; how they sell when promoted; how they sell from store to store, or day to day, or day part to day part, or month to month, or season to season.
And, as any retailer will acknowledge, information is power.
Your fixture supplier may make a wonderful fixture. But is it a true partner? Grottini’s not the only one, of course, as the June article makes clear. But it’s certainly a model of what you should be able to expect. And the view of the sea is breathtaking.