Thursday, November 30, 2006

Wal-Mart names Roces to head ‘Store Experience’

Home Textiles has a brief blurb about the appointment:

Wal-Mart Stores is creating a new organization it calls “Store Experience” to delve more deeply into store planning, space management, and the retailer’s store-of-the-community initiative.

Santiago Roces, who was most recently Wal-Mart’s Korea president, will be leading the initiative. He is relocating to company headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. Roces’ promotion is one of several appointments that make up Wal-Mart’s recently restructured marketing “dream team,” explained John Fleming, evp and chief marketing officer, during Wal-Mart’s presentation Wednesday at the Morgan Stanley Global Consumer & Retail conference here.
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Luxury auto dealerships invest in good design

While consumer retail garners the most attention when it comes to in-store media, a lot is going on in the retail automotive sector that deserves some commentary as well. My company has been working in that space for about four years now, installing both interactive kiosks and digital signs into hundreds of US dealers, and big chains like AutoNation have also invested in chain-wide digital media networks.

USA Today apparently noticed the trend, as they published this article about the lengths that luxury retail auto dealers are going to in order to bring their dealerships up to snuff. They note:

At Fletcher Jones Motorcars, customers stroll through a gallery of Mercedes-Benzes, linger at the cappuccino bar, tap balls on the putting green or go for a pedicure.

A couple of blocks away, Newport Lexus boasts marble fireplaces, Oakley and Tommy Bahama beachwear boutiques — and a flat-screen television, tuned to ESPN, of course, mounted above the urinal in the men's room.

The two dealerships are pouring on the fancy fixtures and service extras as they vie for a larger share of one of the nation's most prosperous luxury-car markets, coastal Orange County. But even far from "The O.C.," auto industry officials see the sprucing up of luxury-car dealers as a sign that the high-end market could finally be brightening.

I don't know if I'd particulary want a pedicure from my auto dealer, but it's certainly interesting to see that retail design is being used as a gauge for market performance.

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Uniqlo injects Eastern design into western retail

Japanese clothing retailer Uniqlo falls into the same category as H&M for me -- a trendy-looking store that I'd never actually buy anything in, but is visually appealing and shoppable nonetheless. Apparently I'm not the only one to think so either (well, the looks cool part, anyway, I'm sure these stores are heavily shopped), since BusinessWeek decided to do an article on their approach to retail design a few weeks ago. Semi-famous retail architect Masamichi Katayama designed the New York flagship store that's getting all the attention, and in the article he describes the store's "Japanese-ness" as "seiriseiton, " which he then further translates into "simplicity" and "orderliness."

While spartan layouts and stylish fixtures have long been present in tiny boutiques and haute couture specialty retailers, Uniqlo is trying to blend their casually trendy offerings with a high style, dare I say upscale retail design that oozes with simplicity and orderliness. From what I've seen, I certainly think they've met their design goals.

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Making an emotional appeal with in-store media

Note: I've cross-posted this to the Digital Signage News blog, since the subscriberships seem to be somewhat different (and unrelated).

Institutions spend too much time focusing on the science of shopping, rather than the art of shopping. So says The Integer Group's Meg Kinney in her article "The Art of Shopping," featured in the November/December issue of HUB Magazine. While that sentence might not appear to make a lot of sense on the surface (since when is shopping an art or a science, anyhow?), Kinney looks at the growing number of retailers who are focusing on ways to enhance the in-store experience, and comes to some interesting conclusions about what needs to be done to bring in-store media up to snuff in today's experiential retail environment.... Read the full article: Making an emotional appeal with in-store media

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Supervalu aims to surprise and delight shoppers

Fresh off of their recent acquisition of the Albertson's grocery chain, Supervalu CEO Jeff Noddle announced an ambitious plan to spend $1 billion in the coming years to remodel existing stores and build a few new ones under a new program called Premium Fresh & Healthy. The goal, according to Duncan Mac Naughton, EVP of Merchandising Marketing, "is all about surprising and delighting the customer," which will apparently include things like:

[expanding the stores'] produce, meat, seafood, bakery and deli departments. Stores remodeled or built under the new plan will also have an area for international foods, since 24 percent of Americans eat at least one ethnic meal a week, Mac Naughton said.

Supervalu is also pushing to focus on natural and organic products, which have become quite popular for mainstream grocers in the past few years after the rapid growth of specialty chains such as Whole Foods Market Inc.
While it certainly remains to be seen exactly how the chain expects to delight their shoppers, I'm hoping that they'll introduce some new innovations for making grocery shopping faster and more convenient (and you can always spot the good innovations because they spread through the whole industry like wildfire :)

Tags: digital signage, store experience, retail media, in-store media, merchandising, retail marketing, advertising, visual merchandising

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Inside retail stores, it's all about the 'message'

I don't like stealing other people's titles when summarizing an article, but this article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette really hit the nail on the head. You don't normally see a lot about retail media or the retail experience in mainstream newspapers, but clearly there's a lot going on in-store, and with the holiday season nearly upon us (or already upon us for a few weeks, if you're some retailers), perhaps some people are starting to take notice of their shopping environments. The article notes:

Every retail space has to handle merchandise shifts. At the beginning of a season, racks of hanging clothes may be full. As they empty, the walls might adapt to hold shelves or make the most of a shirt on a hanger. Color choices in carpet and paint can't clash with the latest fashions. "Flexibility is really important in retail," said [Suzan Lami, of Lami Grubb Architects]. Architects hoping to create something for posterity should be aware that in retail, change is not just embraced, it's required. Some of Ms. Lami's clients' leases require their stores be remodeled every five years, whether the existing design was a good one or not.
Consumers are more fickle and ad-shy than ever, and with the echo boomer generation coming into their own as an educated, mobile and media-savvy consumer demographic, stores are having an increasingly hard time combating poor advertising performance and Internet shopping options. By making the in-store experience more interesting and enjoyable, brick-and-mortar retailers are able to offer shoppers something that can't (yet) be had online.

Tags: retail media, store experience, store environment, advertising, retail marketing, merchandising

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

When is a store redesign really innovative?

There's an interesting discussion going on at RetailWire right now about OfficeMax's recent announcement that they'd be trying some new things in their stores to stimulate sales. Among their innovations were brighter, more colorful stores and signage, an in-store TV network, and the addition of a coffee bar at some locations. Interestingly, all of these things have been tried before (though not necessarily in the office supplies category, as some commenters at the site are quick to note). In fact, as Mark Lillien at RTG quips, "what will the LAST retail category be to offer coffee bars? Funeral parlors? Storefront Medicaid mills?"

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Women say: no time for ads, it's time for CROPing!

The Wise Marketer is covering a survey by public relations firm Ketchum about what influences women's purchase decisions. There were four trends that came out of the results, which focused on women aged 25-54, with the most interesting (perhaps) being the advent of CROPing (looking for CRedible OPinions) before shopping. By getting the opinions of trusted friends, experts and information sources (like trusted web sites and magazines), women can cut down on the amount of "actual" shopping for a target item by eliminating universally panned choices and focusing on highly selected ones. According to Ketchum's synopsis, other key findings include:

  • Consumer-Electronics Shopping Is Easy, But … - Three of four women say that consumer-electronics shopping is “very” or “somewhat” easy, but some aspects frustrate them. Forty percent get frustrated when talked down to while shopping for consumer electronics and a quarter of women voice confusion over whether to buy a warranty (28%), product complexity (27%) and too many choices (26%).
  • Product Research Rules, But Impulse Buying Is Still Popular - Seven in ten women do research before making big purchases (72%), but only 35% “rarely” buy on impulse. A quarter of women say they are the first to try new products and services.
  • Health is Part of the Definition of Success - Eighty percent of women surveyed feel that being healthy and having healthy children (82% and 81%, respectively) are the top qualities that define success. Other leading factors include having well-adjusted children (79%), living in a nice, safe community (77%), not having debt (77%) and having a strong marriage (77%)
Of course, all of this research and CROPing seems to indicate that women are making more buying decisions (or bigger parts of the decisions) before they enter retail stores, which could be a problem for in-store advertisers hoping to influence buying decision with retail media like POP displays and digital signage systems.

Here's a podcast of the synopsis.

Tags: retail media, store marketing, retail marketing, digital signage, CROPing, purchase decisions, in-store advertising, out-of-home media