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2007 Best Merchandising Ideas: Cookware Racks.

The period of kitchen "minimalism" is coming to an end and cookware racks are back in fashion. They are a striking complement to every new-home kitchen, or kitchen remodel in an existing home, providing elegance and artistic appeal. Not only are cookware racks a style statement, they also provide functional value. Cookware racks store, display and enhance the look of two of the kitchen's most valuable assets -- its cookware and essential cooking utensils.

Cookware racks are certainly not a new invention; in fact, they've been in use for over 300 years. Today, they are literally everywhere, helping professional chefs and people in homes across America organize their workspaces to make cooking more efficient and enjoyable. Available in myriad styles and sizes -- from Old World French to sleekly modern or traditional -- a cookware rack is available for every consumer's taste and every kitchen decor.

While hanging cookware racks are favorites over kitchen islands and peninsulas, kitchens are full of convenient and attractive places to hang or mount cookware racks on ceilings or walls. There are cookware racks that can hang creatively in sink areas, from high ceilings above an open space, near cabinets, islands, stovetops, and any other areas needing a fresh look and added utility. There are also free-standing racks for corners or open spaces in the kitchen.

Help consumers solve a storage problem. When you can identify the cookware rack most suited to their needs and style, you'll make customers feel as if their purchases were custom-designed for their homes.

Displays That Sell When setting up your cookware rack displays, don't position them across the store away from the cookware section -- they are perfect complements for each other and sell best when seen together. Additionally, do not install your displays high overhead out of reach and sight to most customers. Instead, mount cookware racks approximately 7? feet above the floor, allowing sufficient space to attach an eye-catching cookware set. If you can't accommodate an "aerial display," obtain a compact Retail Display Fixture or Display Stand from your vendor that showcases a collection of popular cookware racks.

The next important element in properly displaying your cookware racks is to never display them empty. Customers must be able to observe the product in use to appreciate its beauty and functionality -- they won't buy it if they can't see it.

To optimize sales, build prominent permanent displays of cookware racks with cookware combinations. Arrange collections of complementary products in kitchen-style vignettes featuring the different metals that are part of your pot rack selections. Cookware hanging from pot racks is a highly effective cross-sell combination.

For example, pair brushed stainless-steel and chrome pot racks with stainless-steel cookware, or display brass pot racks combined with cookware and utensils that contrast or complement the brass. Bring in the hammered steel pot racks and join them with cookware featuring a similar finish or provide a contrast in texture by using stainless-steel cookware. And, for the final touch, be sure to include copper pot racks with beautiful copper pots.

On every cookware rack display, be sure to attach a prominent hang-tag on the rack that tells your customers, "I am not a store fixture; I AM FOR SALE!"

DemonstrationA good way to sell your customers on the practicality and beauty of cookware racks is for them to see them used during regular cooking demos and classes in your store. Install the racks above chefs' work area sections (within arm's reach) to demonstrate easy access to cookware and utensils, convenience and functionality -- plus the beauty and charm they add to any kitchen decor.

Encourage instructors to be highly interactive between cooking equipment and cookware racks, and to articulate the convenience a cookware rack brings to the work area. Have the chef point out that because they hang safely and conveniently overhead, cookware racks help protect expensive cookware from damage and minimize workplace clutter. Your demos will not only attract attention to your cookware racks, but will also garner attention to your high-quality cookware and utensils, as well.

PromotionCookware racks are best promoted in combination with cookware because they're an integral component (the storage system) of a cookware collection. With every cookware purchase, point out the benefits of adding a cookware rack to safely store and proudly showcase a treasured cookware/utensils collection. If a customer is concerned about assembly and installation, explain how simple they are to assemble using easy-to-understand instructions, wrench and hardware included. If the customer still has doubts, as an added value, offer to arrange installation service.

It's also important to have your staff attract attention to the category and tell the story behind unique product qualities. Compelling benefits and features to point out include the strength of sturdy high-carbon steel, two-tiered construction, quality welds and fasteners, and choice of hanging points in the design of certain cookware racks. Other sales points may include high-quality hand-finishing, finish choices and meticulous craftsmanship. Oftentimes, vendor-provided sales and training videos can help your sales associates sell the category more effectively. To further excite your sales associates about promoting the category, offer incentives such as cash spiffs and store scrip for selling cookware/rack combinations.

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Publication:Gourmet Retailer
Date:Aug 1, 2007
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