August 1, 2016
Any Atlantan knows that the best high-end shopping happens in Buckhead, the historically upper-class section of the city. When a showroom moves to this part of town, it marks that company’s objective to offer both a personal and a luxurious shopping experience for kitchen and bath clients.
“We chose this particular area to gain more visibility among customers seeking high-end brands and a personalized shopping experience that allows them to see and touch the products before they purchase,” said Kate Bailey, director of showrooms for Ferguson Enterprises.
The Perfect Spot
While the company has been in Atlanta for more than 14 years, its previous location on Miami Circle was not fitting its growing space. The Shops at Buckhead Atlanta allow for more foot traffic, exposure and more of the clientele the company hopes to attract.
“Shoppers who prefer high-end luxury clothes, jewelry and cars also value high-end luxury products in their home, since the products are an extension of their lifestyles and personal tastes,” said Bailey, adding that the area is also one of great economic growth.
Once clients walk into the 13,183-sq.-ft. second-story space, they are greeted at a front desk and offered a beverage. Five consultants are on hand throughout the open, high-ceilinged space. While they are not designers by trade, each consultant has years of experience working with designers, builders, plumbers, remodelers and homeowners on many projects and are considered “product experts” by the showroom. There is also a conference room where people can meet, and contractors can bring clients to specify different types of can lighting that are displayed around the perimeter of the room.
“Contractors are very excited about this, because it allows customization,” said Kara O’Donnell, the area showroom manager, who added that many customers leave the showroom educated and confident on the process. “If homeowners do not specify, they usually end up getting a can light they do not want.”
The showroom refers to walk-in customers as “idea gatherers.” According to O’Donnell, these customers tend to use the showroom to get a hands-on sense of what’s available. Once a representative meets with them and explains what all is possible, the walk-in is more likely to make an appointment to work with the showroom because of the one-on-one time they received.
Method to the Displays
The consultants use the layout and the interactive displays to explain and educate these clients. Using a blend of vignettes and universal product displays, the showroom is divided into the core areas of appliances, bath and kitchen.
“Our products are grouped by trends and styles so consumers can make side-by-side comparisons and select products that best meet their needs,” said Bailey.
The vignettes – scattered throughout the space – are meant to give customers a full range of possibilities. The universal vignettes – like a freestanding wall of faucets – are interspersed within more decorative sets to create a sense of continuity and to tie the showroom together. They also showcase the smaller products, like fixtures, in a way that easily facilitates decision-making and eliminates an overwhelming feeling for clients.
“We aim to focus on the product, not the construction materials, and paint a picture of how our knowledgeable products experts can help bring a project to life,” said Bailey.
While most of the showroom is grouped by style, the kitchen displays are grouped by brand, including Sub-Zero, Viking, Bosch, Thermador and GE. This is so customers can see how an entire suite of appliances looks and functions together. According to Bailey, consumer research and buying behavior teaches that brand is the most prevalent determining factor in appliances selection, whereas consumers tend to purchase fixtures based on side-by-side comparisons.
Seeing and Sensing
Above it all, lighting is clustered by style and trend and displayed all throughout the showroom to demonstrate how different styles can be used in different places. Lighting is now a major focus for Ferguson – it is displayed in more than 150 of its showroom locations.
To assist customers with their lighting choice, the showroom features an LED lighting lab where associates can demonstrate how different light temperatures change the look of an area. This space, which doubles as a conference room, gives associates the ability to educate and help clients visualize.
“Then there’s the shower wall that we use to demonstrate the tactile effects of various showerheads, rain heads and body sprays,” said Bailey. “Many consumers are concerned about how the water feels when it hits their skin, and this working display allows us the ability to show, tell and demonstrate to our customers the effect of the products.”
In addition, the working kitchen also allows for the consultants to showcase technology like induction cooking or connected devices, plus it gives them the ability to bring in live chefs, host events and offer cooking demonstrations ideal for the upscale area.
“What really makes this showroom unique is our positioning above Hermès in the heart of the Shops Buckhead Atlanta,” said Bailey. “While the interior of the space mirrors what we’re doing in showrooms across the country, the exterior of this location is nestled in a highly visible retail location among luxury fashion brands.”
Photography: Ferguson Bath, Kitchen and Lighting Gallery
Victoria + Albert