Archive for July, 2015

Can the Amazon generated Sale day become a trend in retailing?

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015


Retailers have often said success is about location, location, location. When if comes to internet retailers, in my opinion success comes from credibility. Although a brick and mortar have so many factors that must be successful and well planned as a Store Design Firm we know if you build it right, they will come.

In the case of Amazon, they have written a new chapter in the retailers guide to success. The fact that it took an online retailer to come up with an event that generated such success is an eye opener. The fact that Walmart followed the concept is a wake up call that brick and mortar retailers are up against some worthy competition and better not fall asleep at the switch.

What makes the Amazon July 15 event a success is that it was credible. There were no rain checks, the product was viable and appealing in spite of some customers comments that the product resembled a garage sale.I for one based on my experience with Amazon fell hook line and sinker for the sale.

The smart tv that I ordered at a very low price and high quality arrived in my house 18 hours after the item was ordered. The bottom line is they made a promise and kept it. This ingredient to success is essential for any retailer because with that trust is the ability to create special days and get this kind of response.

In conclusion, Brick and Mortar invented Black Friday and allowed that to be the great contribution for two decades without another innovative idea. I do not consider Xmas set up on Oct 1, or Halloween starting Sept 1 a great concept or innovation. So apparently it is up to the online retailers to pave the way forward to capture customers attention and dollars, while traditional retailers scratch their heads and wonder where they went wrong. So yes Rob, this is the next craze.

The Benefits of a Store Audit

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

111It is common practice for all of us to visit a doctor once a year to validate how we feel, any new issues to concern ourselves with and should something suspicious appear, that it is investigated.
Retail is no different but all too often the retailer is concerned about the product cost and sell pricing and spends little time looking at the store through a customers eye.
The practice of Retail Audit goes beyond the product only. America loves the words: new, just arrived, special, updated, and essential. When the store takes on the spirit of these words you provide change and interest to the customers shopping experience. Beyond the words are the actions you take. Product change over time and a display that properly showed the item a year ago may need an adjustment to accommodate the update version of that item. If you allow time to pass without addressing this issue you wind up with a square trying to fit a round hole.
For the bottom line the yearly audit should review the lighting and determine if an investment into new LED efficient lighting will over time pay itself back with energy savings on your monthly bill. Electric is often one of the biggest monthly line numbers in your expenses and a reduction in cost equates to an increase of profit.
In conclusion, retailers you owe it to your store to provide a yearly physical to insure it is healthy, you remain wealth and wise.

For Bloomingdale’s, Container Store Or Gap – Service Still Makes The Difference

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

Although my expertise is in designing stores, I could not agree more with Mr. Loeb regarding service. There are so many factors that come into play today as a result of technology, which has created parity. Competitive price checks, availability, brand have become a constant among several retailers serving the many sectors of demographics.
The shopping experience, which is spearheaded by service, could be the biggest single factor that allows one retailer to survive while others continue to close their doors.
I am very sensitive to service and find that the big box retailers have a much more difficult time providing quality associates that customers can rally around. My guess is salary plays a part of this low standard of service. This service area of opportunity allows the mom pop retailer a way that the can out perform the big box retailer.
We all know good service when we see it and unfortunately the retailer is starving to cultivate this caliber of staff member so they are forced to promote the good associates to a higher position. This promotion often leads to creating a hole where the store meets the customer, with the end result of losing customers due to poor service.
As soon as the retailer put more time and priority into labor training and selection, the bottom line will improve itself through happy customers. Needless to say it is all about the product, but when product no longer plays the key role in securing customer loyalty, service is the next factor to drive the business.

Department Stores are heading in the wrong direction.

Sunday, July 5th, 2015

This Outlet strategy goes against the main reasons for the department stores success and preserving loyal base customers. In addition, you have the issues at the outlet level, lower paid service associates, vanilla store design and presentation, more chance for negative shopping experience due to budget factors and you have lowered the core department store business as a result of guilty through association. Does it make sense to give your establish customer a reason to not shop your Department store and go to another location to shop. Retailers strive for multiple sales, and this approach will not work to that initiative.

What is the right strategy? Allocate an area with the core department store which takes the product residue, the off season items and create a permanent section within the store that would simulate the off price store concept. Why? Because is brings a new customer in, and perhaps over time that price driven customer becomes a trade up customer, which improves the quality of shopper within the department store. Off price retailing is basically depending on price to drive the business. Customers accept items that are not in their size, out dated fashion, a basic shopping experience and that works for that customer. But the department store is walking faster at an outlet level just to stay in place. Department stores are do not represent the numbers that a TJX and Marshals, Ross Stores provide product vendors, who are stuck with product. Having been involved intimately with licensing of brands, believe me when I say, the surplus, first dibs on good product goes to the biggest retailer. Prestige, which department stores represent, does not factor in obtaining the best of the worst. So department stores force to buy into their new outlet stores because space allocation requires they fill up the store to give a sense of being in business, must depend on the department store assortment sale items to be directed to the outlet. The cost of the transfer, probably gets written off on the department store and not into the cost of goods for the outlet store, thus presenting a false vision of success.
You cannot be all things to all customers, you have to live by the sword and die by the sword because this alternative outlet solution will be working against the odds due to the competition who invented the concept.

Lastly, we all have made the observation when shopping an outlet store similar to the high profile Gap retailer, that the product found in the Gap store, never saw the light of day in that company store. People now believed that most of the off price product was really a ploy that its origin was a company store, but the reality is it was outlet store bound from the purchase order inception. Customers caught on fast which watered down the credibility of the outlet concept from great product at great prices, to good prices only.

Not everything you read is the truth. This advice is off the mark.

Friday, July 3rd, 2015

Retail Design is one of the few interior design disiplines where the design impacts a bottom line and determine the success of a business. The most important aspect of store design was not addressed in this article which is baffling as the color of the store is the last factor to impact the bottom line.

A Retailers success is a simple mathematical equations. If your Staff, rent, electric and other operating costs require a store volume of $300,000 how much product do you have to sell to make that volume requirement?

If you make $20 as an average on each item you sell and your average turn is 10 times a year, you need to sell 1500 items ten times over a one year period to break even. If your store does not have the capacity to hold 1500 pieces of inventory, you might as well not open your doors and certainly don’t worry about the color of the walls.

The biggest mistake made by interior designers and Architects is that they do not understand nor lived the dynamics of retail. As a result of this lack of understanding, year after year the design award stores go out of business because they looked good but could not meet the basic requirements to stay in business. As a Store Planner for almost 30 years, Form follows function and that is the bottom line after you do the math. Color, finish materials are secondary. Displays that properly hold the correct inventory level, in the best flexible presentation is critical. Lighting comes in a close second because of the cost of electricity and the color renditions impact on the product color.

All of the above are the essentials of store design.

Jerry Birnbach F.I.S.P.

Should fixture type be the ultimate method to related to your customer?

Friday, July 3rd, 2015

Commenting on updating your fixtures to accommodate the Millennial population. I have always been a believer that in retail design you must ” Design with merchandise in mind.” Product dictates fixture function and a 4 way is a 4way first and then it can take on the color or finish or ornamentation. I do find the use of retailer in the article a little misleading because not every product category can be narrowed down to the millennial customer. Clothing,entertainment, or shoes are much easier due to fashion elements to narrow the assortment down to Millennial appeal. Sporting goods, Drug Store, or Mobile Device stores in order to survive need to have a much wider range of customer demographic and need to convey their brand in a more one size fits all solution. Regardless of category, it is all about the product, and then how you identify your category of product to the consumer.

Trump and Confederate Flag go down in a blaze of glory

Friday, July 3rd, 2015

trump 2Two brands or iconic symbols shot and now missing in action this week.
First the confederate flag became a topic that most retailers and media dropped like a lead ballon. Why?
The topic has been debated back and forth by many this week.
Perhaps we need to revisit the American Flag and remember “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the U.S.A. And to the Republic, for which is stands, ( and goes on to define what it stands for )
Now here comes another flag,a symbol of another nation who at the time had a specific “for which it stands “ and for over 160 years our nation has worked to put that behind us. Any reminder of that mentality apparently promotes feelings in the ignorant individuals that cannot get over the fact that they lost the war and the “one nation under god” got the help from a higher power which assisted in the victory. So retailers, I salute you for a quick and decisive move to eliminate one more reminder of what should not have been and to support what we are constantly striving to achieve in our society “for liberty and justice for all”.
As for the Trump brand, well that is another story. Can’t argue honesty is the best policy. Can’t take away anyones right to say what they believe to be true. What concerns me and remains a gray area, is that several high end apparel designers recently came out with anti gay and anti transgender comments which were meant to be hurtful. Yet D&C, and others are still on the shelves of certain retailers in spite of crossing the line of decency. So why was Trump removed. Having been actively involved with Licensing and Brands, it could have been the easiest way to get out of a non lucrative contract due to poor performance. Just a guess, because the world in truth will not miss seeing Trump product in the stores. What will become interesting is if by some weird set of circumstances if a peanut farmer could win, Trump could win the White House. If Trump wins will retailers make bottom line decisions disguised to be made for hot topic and will this product find itself back on the shelf? My guess is yes.