1. Could you give us a brief presentation of HL Display Romania and what makes your company unique on the local/ international market?
HL Display is the global partner for brands and retailers for in-store communication and merchandising. We work together with our clients to create in-store experiences for customers, based on 61 years of experience, expertise and knowledge of the markets.
This is our mission; simple, yet powerful – we provide what is essential to grow the business.
What makes us unique on the market? Well, a typical business day for us starts in the far corners of Asia and ends in Western Europe. With Scandinavian roots, we grew over the decades and became a global leader in merchandising and in-store communication operating internationally in 44 markets. Again, this means we understand all sales companies, languages and each market needs, constrains and opportunities
We never compromise on quality and high standards. Our values as international leader are customer focused. We know we are essential for the success of our customers; we are confident and we give them confidence. This makes our company unique.
2. How were 2014 and 2015 so far in terms of business activity for HL Display Romania in comparison with your initial forecast?
Each year we forecast sales and activities greater and bigger than maybe we actually want to reach. And this is because it challenges us. We are bold in each activity we launch.
2014 couldn’t compare to 2015 and maybe the same will go for 2016. The market and the companies are really different from one year to the other and this represents many opportunities for us, because we can play with many budgets and create spectacular projects in partnership with our clients – both on local and global level.
As business activity, HL Display grew over the past 2 years. At the beginning of 2015 we went through an organizational change and now we have enhanced our Mission, Vision, Values, because after 61 years of experience and knowledge of the market, we now know what challenges our clients face and we better understand each individual business, vision, strategy and desire.
Locally, our team grew, globally now we have more distributors and invested in the development of our sales units all over the world.
HL Display thinks global, and acts local – for each market.
3. In 2015, we see an increase in consumption which helps boost the economic activity on the whole. How have Romanian companies supported this trend, by using innovative solutions, such as the ones offered by HL Display Romania?
This trend was, indeed, also supported by Romanian companies. And also, due to this increase, many companies have chosen our solutions. Companies increased the number of projects both on local and international level. We faced many challenges and strict deadlines because of this. This also helped us grew many businesses because we learned how to overcome the obstacles the local market raised.
4. As a multinational company, it is easy for you to see the similarities and differences between companies from your portfolio. Could you share with us some similarities and differences between Romanian business environment and CEE?
It might seem easy, but each time we come across with something that we might think we already know or have already seen, we notice it’s different. So, some companies may resemble in what concerns some needs or the desire for some innovations, but nothing is the same.
Now, above I was talking about our Romanian customers, in what concerns Romania and CEE, here we can talk more. Although we work with multinational clients, they also work differently in each market, because locally, the markets are different. In Romania, for example, there is a need of solutions for bulk products, whether in the CEE, bulk products are not that required.
5. What is the difference, in terms of costs and benefits, between ‘optimization of the selling space’ and ‘essential optimization of the selling space’?
In HL Display, we believe that profit depends not only on increasing sales but also on reducing costs. That’s why it pays to look at solutions from all angles. And here is when we come in, with expertise on and around the shelf based on industry-leading R&D, as well as over half a century of successful partnerships with customers worldwide.
So, we are essential for our partners from our position of experts in merchandising and in-store communication; we partner with them to create a more desirable shopping experience and enable their staff to use their time more efficiently.
Moreover, in terms of cost and benefits, we are talking about creating a place where the consumer WANTS to shop, we increase footfall, increase the conversion to sales, increase average check and of course, we create differentiation from competition.
Simply put, we maximize the sales by optimising innovation, efficiency and confidence.
6. International studies show that over 70% of the buying decision is taken by customers in the shop. How does the Romanian market stand in terms of the buying decision?
Products properly merchandised increase the chances of an impulse purchase or the purchase of a high luxury item. Segmentation and good navigation is important too, as consumers purchase more brand names or private label products if they can easily find them. Otherwise, they choose those products with the lowest price point. The Romanian market doesn’t look very different from this point of view. Efficient use of space increases sales. This applies not just to floor space but also to the horizontal and vertical surfaces of your shelves. It is common practice to leave open spaces between items on a shelf and sometimes the one above to allow staff to easily reach items furthest at the back. Naturally all of this empty space lowers efficiency. With a shelfing system that allows quick and easy loading from the front it is possible to eliminate these open spaces and fit one or two additional shelves in the same display unit. In some cases such a system might also make it possible to stack two products on top of each other. This means more products on the shelves, fewer products in the stock room and fewer problems with empty shelves and therefore gives an overall increase in store efficiency.
Romanians want to easily shop; to find the products; to easily reach them. Although they want things to work easily for them in the store, they want a shopping experience.
7. We soon expect a lower taxation for consumption, starting January 1st 2016. Lower prices might lead to higher competition. Are companies ready to invest more in order to increase the customers’ buying experience by using intelligent solutions, like HL Display provides? Do you have any examples to support this?
Yes. Companies are always prepared to face higher competition or always expect to face competition. And thanks to that, HL Display is the leading provider of intelligent solutions.
For both retailers and brands, the battle is taking place on the shelf. Retailers want more attracting selling space, excellent shopping experience for their customers, they want to provide all the necessary products and tools in order for their consumers to find products, reach products, and increase impulse purchasing.
In the same time, brands want higher visibility on the shelf, differentiation from competitors, higher market share.
So yes, companies invest in HL solutions, because HL is not selling products. We know what period our clients are facing, and we provide innovative solutions; so we sell solutions, benefits for the client.
For example, for one of our international accounts, we provided a long term solution, a solution that cannot be reproduced in a garage. This is the difference, the quality, the experience and expertise that comes along with HL professionals. Using a merchandising solution for this international account, we helped increase store efficiency by allowing the staff to use their time for proper and better customer service, instead of losing precious time in tiding shelves.
Moreover, we increased sales through better product display, use of space and we minimized labour costs while increasing staff productivity.
8. As we know, HL Display offers standard solutions and customized solutions. What are the tendencies for both sectors, in terms of dynamics?
Actually, the Romanian market is really playful. It is well known that we provide both standard solutions and customized solutions; so, thanks to that, all our customers get the same support in all their endeavours.
The tendency for retailers is usually the need of implementing standard solutions for in-store communication and merchandising solutions. Although we provide them innovating solutions, these kind of needs require standard options. Here we talk more about store efficiency and saving labour costs.
While the brands want more differentiation from the competitors, attractive selling space on the shelf, increasing sales and visibility of their products – they mostly want to bring the brand to life. And here is where we come in as essential partners.
9. What are your new projects for 2016?
For 2016, our major project is actually to continue what we started already, and of course, to enhance it.
HL Display is always partnering with its clients. Both retailers and brands. So we want to create more triangle projects, where we, together with retailers and brands, explore all possibilities in order to design the proper system that assures sales increase, essential optimization of the selling space, save labour cost and create differentiation.
To be precise and to give a short example, a triangle project means to enhance a product category – we are the bridge between the retail and brand; we are the professional consultants and provide the proper solutions in order to enhance that category.
This way, both brand and retailer communicate their needs, the way they want to work and what benefits they get by working together and aligning the strengths. HL Display is providing the standard and customized solutions in order to reach the results needed.
10. What is your message to the Romanian customers supported by HL Display to become more satisfied in terms of their buying experience?
We make it all about them – clients and customers. We focus on high impact solutions, and more important, on one essential – optimising the selling space.
We invest in standing out that always pays off. Whether it’s an eye-catching product display or a clear presentation that’s refreshingly easy to navigate, we help our clients to drive sales and create in-store differentiation. We partner with them to create amazing shopping experiences, trigger impulse buying and gain customer loyalty.
11. What is your message to the Romanian retail partners who are assisted by HL Display to optimize their customer satisfaction and business efficiency?
Think about it like this: a consumer is exposed to more than 3,000 messages a day. How does the retailer stand out? Like you also pointed out, 70-80% of buying decisions are made in the store. Is the retailer affecting decision-making to his highest advantage? These are the starting points in our partnerships with retailers. So, we assist them in driving success by innovation.
This is the only way forward in a time when the market is constantly changing and facing new challenges.