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A floor model traditionally is an item displayed as a representative example of a specific product that is or will be offered for sale. The use of floor models is widespread throughout several types of retail stores. The items featured as floor models tend to be electronics, furniture and appliances. A newer type of floor model is the retail sales associate, which some stores have taken to calling floor models.
The need for display floor models is a practical one. Some sort of packaging is practically a must for many items offered at retail, making it hard for a potential customer to see what he or she is getting. A floor model allows the item to somewhat sell itself. It gives the customer the ability to interact with the item in ways that would be impossible with a packaged item.
Most durable goods — consumer items that do not wear out — are shipped in packaging for several reasons. First, doing so assures they will not be dented, stained or otherwise damaged prior to a retailer offering them for sale. Second, packaging allows the items to be more easily stored and delivered; for example, boxed items can be stacked many levels high for transit. Third, boxes allow for tracking codes to be applied to the goods for the sake of security or to identify their manufacturing date or location.
Smaller items, usually electronics, are packed both for shipping and for loss prevention. Such goods tend to have a high value-to-volume ratio. Packaging can serve to ensure the item is much harder to steal.
Regardless of the reason an item is packaged, a traditional floor model is simply an item removed from its packaging and displayed in an attempt to sell more of that item. This can be done with multiple items but, more often than not, only one item serves as a floor model. Floor models are placed to attract customer attention and invite exploration by sight and touch. For a larger item, such as a washing machine, a customer might want to measure it or see what it looks like inside, while smaller wares such as cell phones may be presented so the customer can experiment with how the device works. In many cases, floor models of competing types or brands are displayed together for comparison.
A floor model also can represent an opportunity to purchase an item at a lower cost. Retailers often discount floor models, particularly when an item has been discontinued and the floor model is the only one left in stock. Floor models are frequently handled and can sometimes exhibit characteristics of a used item, such as wear or dirt, so retailers tend to offer price reductions on them.
While product-based floor models are a long-standing feature of retail shopping, a more contemporary version of the floor model is the retail sales associate. Some stores, especially clothing stores that market themselves to a teen or young adult audience, refer to their sales associates as floor models. Despite the name change, these employees handle the standard tasks of refolding merchandise, straightening shelves and racks of clothing, and assisting customers.
Whenever I got to an electronics or home appliance store, I always ask if any of the floor model TVs are for sale. There's almost always one brand that isn't selling very well, and the store is usually willing to sell the floor model TV at a deep discount. They realize a lot of people have been pushing the buttons and changing all the channels, so the set is obviously far from brand new.
I'll also ask about floor model appliances, but a lot of stores are reluctant to part with them. They'd have to assemble another one and bring it out as a replacement. It never hurts to ask, though. I did get a great deal on a floor model washer and dryer because someone ran into them with a shopping cart and left a noticeable dent. They would have had to move it off the floor, anyway.
A few years ago, my wife and I made resolutions to exercise more and eat healthier. I thought a home treadmill would be the perfect thing, since we both liked to walk around the block for exercise. When we got to a "big box" sporting goods store, however, we got hit with sticker shock. Most of the treadmills were way out of our budget.
However, the sales associate said he would talk to the manager about one of the treadmills we liked. He came back and said we could buy the floor model for less than $200, because they were going to stop carrying that particular brand soon. The manager found the original instruction manual and other paperwork in a back room. The floor model was already assembled, which also saved us some time and aggravation. We just had to find someone with a truck so we could take it home.
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