MORGAN HILL, CA (BRAIN)—Specialized Bicycles will be unveiling its new Core Retail Lab at this year's dealer event.
The Core Retail Lab, which contains two different size retail environments, was constructed within the walls of the company's global headquarters in Morgan Hill, California—inside its warehouse area (see blueprint picture).
“Within the space we’re building, there are separate 1,500 and 4,300 square foot retail spaces to give us some perspective on how the things we create translate into real world stores,” said director of global retail services Joe Wheadon. “We’ll use it in retail services to see how our fixtures, graphics and merchandising ideas work, and the product people can even use it to identify and address issues that might come up from their end as well.”
Aside from allowing the retail support tools created by retail services to better meet dealer needs, the Core Retail Lab will also be a showcase for best practices and help promote retail excellence.
“By providing a space that dealers can see, as an example of how a high end, organized look in their store can boost their customers’ perceptions, we are helping them see how their business can be at the leading edge in their markets,” said Nichole Perrin, USA retail services manager.
"We’re also looking to utilize the space as a laboratory to test how new marketing support tools for our dealers, and to have photo shoots, allowing us to create 'how-to' pieces for merchandising those pieces in stores.”
While the project started as a major investment to ensure its dealers are receiving the best merchandising and retail marketing support in the industry, the lab is also helping elevate some of Specialized’s dealer training resources.
“SBCU is really excited about the retail lab. It’s a fundamental training tool for our new three-day Masters Merchandising course, which covers store layout design, vertical merchandising, building window displays and creating signage so that Specialized dealers can offer the best retail experience,” said Andrew Hammond, SBCU program manager. “The space will also offer dealers a super-realistic role-playing experience during the Friedman Group-led sales training during the Core Plus class that we’re offering for 2012.”
While the project might be beyond the scale of what many have previously seen in the industry, Wheadon said it’s the best possible way to ensure the work the company is doing to support dealers is well-spent.
“This type of 'mock shop' is found in so many other industries–Apple, Disney, Microsoft–most high-end retail stores have a lab-type shop where they illustrate their best practices. It may be unique to the bike industry, but it’s no longer the future. If you’re looking to set the bar and win at retail, this is the best way to do it–no matter what industry you work in,” Wheadon said.
The project will debut on day one of the 2012 dealer event in early July, as dealers are welcomed to Morgan Hill on their way to the main even held in Monterey.