Trade showrooms still play a vital role in the decision making process and are breaking down old stereotypes in a bid to attract a harder to please younger audience, a new study* reveals.

The research, which was commissioned by the leading British manufacturer of bi-folding doors and windows, Origin, found that 71 per cent of those interviewed would visit more than one showroom before making any final purchase decision, so the trade has to be at the top of its game to achieve that all-important sale.

Stereotypes and inequalities that once existed in showrooms are now becoming a thing of the past, with only 13 per cent of UK showroom visitors feeling they were treated unfairly due to gender. Only 8 per cent of those questioned had the preconception that showrooms are outdated.

Whilst many of these stereotypes have been overhauled, there are still improvements to make. Overall satisfaction scores averaged just 6 out of 10, and 16 per cent of those questioned assumed that a trade showroom would be too much of a sales focused environment.

The research continues to showcase the areas in particular need of work, with only 40 per cent of UK showroom visitors fully trusting the sales staff. Being more focused on pushing for increased budgets was the major downfall, with 37 per cent stating it was the main factor in the lack of trust. Other factors that were highlighted include visitors feeling as though they were not being listened to (24 per cent), sales representatives appearing to be ‘Yes-Men’ (21 per cent), as well as appearing to be uninformed (20 per cent).

Ben Brocklesby, Sales and Marketing Director at Origin, comments: “It is great to see that preconceptions of trade showrooms are gradually being broken down, with many of the old-fashioned stereotypes, including gender inequality, no longer present in the modern showroom. That being said, it is important that these showrooms do not rest on their laurels, as they continue to be a valuable customer resource and there are still lots of improvements to make.”

According to Origin’s statistics, the younger ‘digital’ generation, aged between 18 and 34, are proving far harder to please in comparison to those aged 35 and above (Generation X). When asked to rate their showroom experience out of ten, the ‘digitals’ only voted for 5.2, substantially lower than the 6.5 rating from Generation X.

One third of the ‘digital generation’ feel that having friendly and well informed staff is an important factor when visiting a showroom, whereas 70 per cent of Generation X feels it is. This younger generation also ranks having plenty of choice on show much lower than the older generation (28 per cent vs 45 per cent), and also consider touching and using the products as less important (31 per cent vs 44 per cent).

Nearly three fifths of those surveyed stated that having friendly and informed staff was the most important trait of a well-run trade showroom. Being able to touch the products in person (41 per cent), having well-priced products (28 per cent) and being left to look around first (30 per cent) were next in line.

Claire Cunnick, Sales Trainer at Origin, states: “Trade showrooms are so vital to our business, which is why here at Origin, we try to be as supportive to our customers as possible. We offer support and training to our trade agents that is second to none, helping them to keep their customers happy. This can be anything from sales and product training, through to marketing support, including the likes of website reviews, PPC advice and social media guidance. We also offer informative showroom collateral, as well looking into introducing technology into the showroom itself through things like point of sale.”

Brocklesby concludes: “I think that the statistics echo the fact that consumers are more sophisticated now than ever before, especially with the power of the internet, allowing them to conduct research before stepping through the doors. Showrooms have advanced significantly over the last few years, via better sales teaching, improved products and a more competitive marketplace, but there is still a long way to go. If you want to win the war for sales, you need to be at the very top of your game, and missing out of potential customers due to poor targeting, either by gender or age is not acceptable anymore.”

Top Ten Qualities That Make the Ideal Showroom

  1. Friendly and well-informed staff
  2. Being able to touch and work/use the products
  3. Functional, working products on display
  4. Easy access and good parking
  5. Being left to look around by yourself
  6. Good lighting
  7. Good value products
  8. Good quality brochures I can take away with me
  9. One-to-one attention
  10. Seeing products in a lifestyle setting, so I can visualise them in my home

Top Ten Reasons Visitors Would Be Put Off a Showroom

  1. Being badgered by staff and not given enough time to think
  2. Untrustworthy sales staff
  3. Staff using too much sales jargon
  4. Rude staff
  5. Uninformed staff
  6. The products being too expensive
  7. Being made to feel like the secondary decision maker
  8. Not being listened to by staff
  9. Not having many options
  10. Being ignored by staff

* Source: The research was conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Origin surveying 1,000 UK trade showroom visitors. Carried out online March 2016.

For further information on Origin, please visit www.origin-global.com