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Retail playbook for caretailers, part 2: Creating a better retail experience

Think about the retail stores you enjoy visiting. Maybe it's a small boutique that welcomes you. Or a big-box retailer that's clean, well lit, organized and carries many options on its shelves. Maybe it's a space where you are always offered help.

No matter what attracts you to a retail space, a pleasant experience typically tops the list.

When it comes to home medical equipment (HME) retailers, an environment that focuses on wellness and health is a great start. Keep your customers returning with a welcoming, well-lit and organized space.

Here's how you can offer your customers a great store experience in your HME retail space.

Go for a modern store aesthetic

Most important: Keep your retail space tidy. That includes regular dusting, vacuuming and decluttering floors and counters. Keep signage fresh and bold. Create different layouts, displays and window décor based on seasonality and new products.

Invest in modern point-of-sale (POS) hardware and software systems, so your checkout process is quick and modern.

Keep an eye toward a color's psychological effect

Research shows our minds associate color with emotion.1

White has a clinical connotation, whereas black can feel intimidating or uninviting, so best to avoid either. Shoppers tend to associate dark, rich colors with high quality so a navy or burgundy would work well.

Use a color scheme that attracts customers and provides the feeling you want for your HME store. For instance, yellow feels happy, warm and optimistic. Red attracts attention and may be too bold for an entire store but perhaps would work for an individual display area. Green has nature-like peaceful overtones and blue evokes trust so these are top go-to colors.

Use natural light, ambient lighting & spotlighting for emphasis

Don't underestimate the importance of a well-lit store to energize your retail space.

Brighten dim, dark corners that are less appealing for your customers and employ ambient lighting, which is natural lighting from windows as well as overhead general lighting from ceiling light fixtures, recessed overhead lighting or chandeliers.

Consider aspects like ceiling height to create an open feel, and the size and location of windows to let in natural light. If your space doesn't have high ceilings you can create the appearance of a higher ceiling by painting trim and baseboards all one color, using tall skinny shelving running from floor to ceiling and drawing shoppers' eyes upward with signage hung high on walls.

Select the right flooring

Evaluate the style and branding of your space and install durable flooring that is functional yet matches your retail aesthetic. Hardwood planks may give you a down-home feeling, while white ceramic tile can look clinical. Perhaps gray tile or a light oak-look laminate makes more sense. Vinyl may hold up well to regular washing, but it can look dated. Consider hygienics, style, traffic and upkeep carefully when selecting flooring for durable medical equipment retailers.

Display items on the right cases, shelves, tables & displays

A mix of slat walls, free-standing fixtures, platforms, table displays, shelving and window displays is a must to draw visual interest and display items well. Small items such as dressings or personal protective equipment (PPE) items may hang pegboard style from hooks, or are suitable for table displays to draw the eye downward. Use platforms for heavier or bulkier items like bathing or mobility aids to allow easy access to these products.

Display bestselling items at eye level. Just because you're not offering boutique clothing doesn't mean an eye-catching window display isn't warranted. Getting creative with the use of mannequins and creating a window scene with popular or bestselling products can draw shoppers.

Cultivate the right environment

When customers feel like you're meeting their healthcare needs in your store, you're likely to see increased sales and repeat visits. A Salesforce State of the Connected Customer report found 91% of customers are more likely to make another purchase if they have a positive experience.2

However, your messaging, store aesthetic, marketing materials and product selection go a long way to creating a lasting impressionable experience. The feeling your customers get from shopping at your store helps them consider your retail space worth revisiting again and again and become loyal shoppers (thus increasing traffic and revenue) — or go elsewhere.

Customers buy from HME retailers because of their expertise and personalized service. One-third of consumers say they would become repeat customers following a personalized shopping experience in preference to cheaper or more convenient options, according to Segment's 2021 State of Personalization report.3

HME retailers have the upper-hand over big box stores such as Amazon because they have the power to provide personalized service, answer questions knowledgeably and even recommend items based on your preferences or purchase of previous items.

Sway buyers with the rule of three

You can also display items with the "rule of three." Merchandizing studies show that display groups of three get shoppers' attention and are more visually engaging than when items are not grouped in threes.4

Rules for grouping display items in threes also suggest showcasing three different sizes, to pair like items with like items and to display items with the middle item higher than the side items. This creates a highly effective visual that draws the subconscious mind to consider a display more carefully.

  • Match categories together
  • Create three pairings

Insights for Professionals reported that a focal point boosts sales up to 229%.5

Another experience must for your HME store is having samples or "hands-on" merchandise that encourages customers to touch, feel, sample or even try a product, such as squirting on a wound care cream or sizing and trying a wheelchair from a selection.

Typically, if products are available, an open and accessible display item should be available for customers to touch, pick up and check out.

What's more, according to our retail playbook creating a better retail experience must also have a people-first philosophy.

This includes:

  • Store messaging and displays that encompass a healthy lifestyle
  • Customer assistance that values customers is helpful but not hovering and creates a comfortable environment
  • Support that provides choices and encouragement in finding the right products and solutions

A host of best practices regarding aesthetics, the feel of a retail space and the support offered all go into creating a better durable medical equipment retail experience for your customers. 

Continue your reading. Our complete ebook, Think bigger: A retail playbook, goes into more detail on this and other ways to channel traditional retail ideas to help grow HME retail profits.


1: https://austinpublishinggroup.com/business-administration-and-management/fulltext/ajbam-v1-id1001.php
2: https://www.salesforce.com/resources/research-reports/state-of-the-connected-customer/
3. https://segment.com/blog/announcing-the-state-of-personalization-2021/
4: https://study.com/academy/lesson/the-rule-of-three-in-visual-merchandising.html
5: https://www.insightsforprofessionals.com/marketing/ecommerce/visual-merchandising-tips

© 2021 McKesson Medical-Surgical Inc.