Archive for the ‘Social Media in Retail’ Category

Jerry Birnbach & Associates Announces they are the First Store Planning Firm to incorporate a mobile app to provide clients real time updates on their design and construction projects.

Monday, February 8th, 2016

Now our clients will be able to review on their smart phone or iPad at any time the design drawing, schedules, budgets, planograms, correspondence, quotes, contracts, and other vital information on their store projects while on the go.

“With the ability to see the entire new store design and construction information” said Jerry Birnbach Partner, you now can will be able to receive and post updates immediately. This feature enables store owners to stay on top of their projects to what any degree of detail they require. The bottom line results to the retailer will be cost savings, time savings and an overall outstanding solution to their new stores renovation or start up projects.

Jerry Birnbach & Associates believes that a client who can capture all the facts and figures of their store project will realize the importance of daily interaction with the project criteria and dynamic factors and benefit greatly from the application.

J C Penney announces they will be testing Appliances. Say it ain’t so Joe

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

J C Penney announces their latest cry for help, We’re selling Home Appliances

I have been close to the JCP culture since Mr. Johnson had, what I considered, a
well conceived plan to turn the business around. The rollout of the idea was difficult to execute due to funding and a commitment by Vendors to dig in and support the effort.

Johnson was relieved of his duties and the old regime became the new old regime. In their tenor multiple law suits for misleading advertising among others continued to blemish the brand name that for years was gold. JCP was conceived to be the Department store for middle and remote America and was good at servicing that demographics.

Of recent JCP has continued to slip into an abyss due to a lack of creativity and a playing field including online sales which are proving to be too strong for them to ward off. Now out of the blue, the retailer mainly known for Home accessory products and apparel, some branded departments come out with “we are selling appliances” as a test.

Let’s see what is involved with this idea based on my firms experience in this field.
Space, a commodity in retail estimated at 36’ x 30’ (1080 square feet) that once housed soft goods that had a five turn projection, with an average gross profit margin of 45% product which generated $300 per s.f. on a yearly basis is giving up $324,000 in sales. Now replace soft goods with Appliances that have maybe two to three turns a year, with a gpm as low as 15% generates does not come close to meeting the dollar profitability of the prior item. Maybe if the Hair salon is replaced with appliances, there is a chance to beat the prior departments total profit and impact to the bottom line.

Competition, Well Sears has been selling appliances since appliances were invented. They have support, trained sales staff, maintenance, and years of doing it right. With the Kmart acquisition they expanded their dominance in the category. Home Depot and Lowe’s have every piece of the equation well greased and generating vast profit. Zero finance for two years a big plus, comes with Home Depot appliances.
In addition, all the accessories that are required with appliances are found under the same roof. The internet is loaded with price driven, inventory intense, quick delivery and branded offerings which low overhead allows for price to rule the sale.
Unless JCP has a lease department with a group that can provide all of the services that the rest of the retail world provides. What are they doing in this category? Bring in a new demographic?
In my opinion, another concept that will not get past a test unless they have a new concept of selling that will set the world on fire. The handwriting on the wall indicates yet another life preserver designed by Svengali to keep them afloat.

Ahrendts’ luxury background shapes Apple store changes

Wednesday, December 9th, 2015
As a student of Retail having designed stores for over 30 years I look to Apple for the ground breaking ideas. Usually I am quick to draw an opinion based on my experience if the story and concept makes good business sense.
I applaud Apple to go into test mode. We all are familiar that most of Apples innovative ideas were met with sceptisism by many when they were first introduced, only to have to eat “crow” once the sales figures came in.
This test may not be about sales figures but yet another great item to experience and draw in curiosity seekers. I am not sure that the Apple formula of $5000 per foot will be met with this product having a 2.5 turn ratio. I would guess that space is a commodity and whatever item will be consolidating to make room for this item will not suffer as a result of the move.
I do find it interesting that Ron Johnson who had a great success record with Target and brought that knowledge onto Apple moved on to a soft goods JCP. His tenure was short and his concept was actually innovative but did not fit the JCP financial position, and put vendors in an awkward position. I was intimately involved with this concept through vendor participation and was not surprised when the concept could not be executed. One could conclude that when you go from hardwoods to softwoods the playing field is way different.
Now what happens when Softwoods Burberry goes to Electronic hard goods? Are we going to see a disappointing results? Time will tell, but my bet is that Apple has the ability to fine tune any dilemma or opportunity as Sam Walton would position a challenge.
I look forward to the test roll out and progress because Apple is one of the few companies willing to try, willing to fail, and willing to get right back on the horse and continue to look for opportunities.
Apple Executive Seeks a Touch of Chic at Retail Stores – The New York Times
Apple Executive Seeks a Touch of Chic at Retail Stores - The New York Times

Jerry Birnbach Interview on You Tube by

Monday, December 7th, 2015

53Recently, A.R.E. Designer member Jerry Birnbach Assoc. A.I.A. was interviewed by Jerry is the owner of Jerry Birnbach & Associates a Top 40 Retail Design Firm.

In addition to his Store Planning services Jerry provides Expert Retail Witness opinions for attorneys nationwide with their retail liability cases.
His interview addressed how manufacturers are often challenged to value engineer the display cost which often opens up liability issues due to cutting corners.
The interview was posted on You Tube and the link is

“Our industry is in need to establish safety issues at store level and display manufacturing and A.R.E. can provide a valuable service to assist in this mission.

design:retail magazine simply the best

Monday, November 2nd, 2015
Announced 11-1-15 design:retail selected best magazine in retail industry
design:retail, simply the best was not simple to achieve. Before the internet the only source for retail updates and suppliers came through three to four magazines catering to the industry.
It was critical to subscribe to these journals in order to remain current. Today times have changed and design:retail remained ahead of curve by keeping up with relevant ways to communicate with the retail industry. As a contributing editor in this magazines former life I appreciated and still do the amount of work required to get the story right and offer productive insight. Congratulations on your recent accomplishment and wish you continued success.

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.

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.

Apple Stores are set to revamp their store design

Friday, June 19th, 2015

I cannot think of being so excited since the announcement of the Beatles White Album. Anyone who has followed Apples evolution has to be amazed at how spot on they have been in thinking out of the box, often with the response of “why didn’t I think of that?” As a Store Planner for many years I have learned by looking around and understanding the reason behind the idea. Apple Stores work, and now all the wanna be’s may have to dip into their pocket to keep up with progress. I thank Apple for the next chapter in innovative thinking.