Insights and OpportunitiesCrash Course in Creativity Fall 2012 By: Ericka Sanders
This week’s assignment was very exciting for me because I had an opportunity to check out stores andmake critical observations regarding my thoughts, feelings and insights on them. Since I am a fashionPublicist this was the perfect opportunity for me to look at stores from the eyes of a publicist to thinkabout the image of the stores as a publicist and make some suggestions on what the store owners coulddo to enhance customer appeal.I decided to check out six stores that I have shopped in and have had indifferent feelings about them inthe past. This was the perfect chance for me to zone in on some of my favorite stores. Aldo, NiemanMarcus, Von Maur, Macys, Lord & Taylor and Target were the stores being observed for this assignment. Observation 1 – Aldo Shoe Store : ‘Impulse Items Misplaced’Insights: Most Aldo shoe stores have an identical or vary similar store arrangement. Generally, they looklike the pictures below. Usually, the store has glass double doors in the middle of two very large visualdisplay windows. The display windows usually advertise the most recent trendy inventory available andthe windows display major promotions. The inside of the store has women shoes on the left side of thestore and men’s shoes on the right side of the store. Before you make it to the checkout counter you seea rack of jewelry (impulse item) and at the checkout counter there are other miscellaneous items.Observation: The impulse items are cosmetics and nail polishes on the counter with the cash registerand credit card kiosk additionally, if you look straight ahead there is a ceiling to floor display of purses(Approximately 3 per shelf). While the locations for these items are very creative and clever it can be abit overwhelming. At the counter I was a victim of impulse shopping and I purchased a lip gloss. BecauseI am a real stickler for cosmetics I was a bit irritated that I had to ask the cashier various questions aboutthe gloss before I had purchased it. To take this a step further, there were other customers in line.Opportunities: Because I bought the lip gloss and really like it, I believe that they should incorporate a‘cosmetics’ section/area to their store layout. Adding this would allow customers to really have theability to try on products and potentially answer their own questions about the products. While impulseitems are intended to be placed in areas that make you buy them at the last minute, if the products are
of quality it would be beneficial to the customers if they had the opportunity to touch feel and try on theproduct. Also, this made me feel that I had to rush and buy the product and take it as a lost if theproduct didn’t live up the expectations I had set forth. Observation 2 – Neiman Marcus : ‘Service’Insights: Neiman Marcus is a high-end department store providing customers with luxury brand apparel,shoe wear, Jewelry, cosmetics, luxurious décor and distinctive gifts. Because this is a store that usuallycaters to a certain niche of people, the customer service experience will be different than other stores.When shopping at stores that cater to individuals that indulge in luxury brands as a customer spendingtop dollars you expect a certain level of customer service.Observation: I entered this store through the men’s department (because I was with an uncle) andproceeded to look at shirts. While my uncle was searching for his size an elder woman who was anemployee approached my uncle and said , ‘ Sir, just tell me what size you need and I will look for it foryou. You don’t have to look for your size, I will do it.’ If you are accustom to shopping in this store thisbehavior is expected and demanded in some cases. The women found the size that was needed, askedif we wanted to look for additional items and upon ‘no’ being the answer she proceeded to take theitems to the checkout counter. As the gentleman behind the counter began to ring up the purchases hemade casual small talk and completed the transactions. Upon completion, he walked from behind theregister and handed the items to my uncle instead of passing them above the counter . This was a greatexperience until we proceeded to the women’s shoe department!I decided to browse and spotted an item that caught my attention. I proceeded to take the display shoeto try on. I walked around in the one shoe, looking at It in the mirror only to realize there are 4 womendressed in black that work in the department and none asked me if I needed help. It wasn’t until eyecontact was made with one of the sales reps that I was asked if I needed help. Where is the servicehere?Opportunities: As a retailer that target a specific niche of people that have no certain color, size, shapeor figure they should be mindful of the service that they are providing. This is an opportunity foremployees to take additional training on service and how to treat customers In order to maintain thegrowth and sustainability of an organization. Observation 3 – Macys : ‘Visually Speaking ’Insights: Macy’s is a mid - range brand department store specializing in the latest trends in accessories,apparel, shoes and home goods. Macy’s is a very large store with items for your home and family.Because observing every department in the store would overwhelming I decided to zone in on the shoedepartment.
Observations: The shoe department has been completely renovated and the changes are great. Theydecided to transition into a larger open floor plan that made viewing the merchandise easier and gavethe employees additional room to assist the customers with trying on shoes.Opportunities: Though renovations and enhancements have been made I saw the opportunity for themto remove some of the merchandise (shoes) from the display. Because the shoe department layout islarger and wide open, over populating the display tables with pairs of shoes can be very overwhelmingfor the customers. I believe when you have an open floor plan, it isn’t grounds for additional productsbecause from a far it appears busy. I would suggest removing some of the shoes from the display(especially the shoes that are available in multiple colors). Observation 4 – Tiffany’s : ‘Sometimes With Years of Experience Comes Understanding Customer Wants and Needs ’Insights: Tiffany’s is a premier jeweler chain that sells special designs with quality craftsmanship. Thisjewelry store has been in business since 1837 and has had the ability to connect individuals with theirtimeless pieces that speak volumes to any women when they receive that pleasantly awkward bluecolored box.Observations: Though I had visited tons of stores, there were no stores that topped my experience atthis premier jeweler. Upon walking into the store I was greeted by the security guard who gave mevaluable information and enhanced my observations of the store. He explained the layout of the storeand reasoning behind it, it was able to give me insights on their customers, why working for thecompany has been a pleasure the past fifteen years and how they pride themselves off treating eachcustomer that walk through their doors with respect.
Opportunities: This is the first store that I really enjoyed! I enjoyed the customer service of the staff, thewillingness of the security officer to voluntarily explain the history of the jeweler and of the companyand most importantly I felt very comfortable in the space, there was great energy. Observation 5 – Von Maur : ‘See Touch Feel and Expand!’Insights: Von Maur is an upscale department store chain specializing in apparel, accessories and shoes.Von Maur is one of the only department stores that offer a charge card that is free of interest. This ispossible because they do not have an advertising/marketing budget. They have decided to opt out ofmarketing and advertising in efforts to provide their customers with something more valuable. Somemay wonder how this is possible; this is possible because Von Maur looks to their dedicated customersthat shop in their store despite ads that may run on television or coupons that are available in a circular.Von Maur prides them off knowing they have customers that are dedicated to their business.Observations: This department store appears to cater to a sophisticatedly elder niche of customers.There is not an occasion that I have visited the store and the number of elder aged people didn’t outnumber other individuals in the store. Aside from the customers, this is a store that prides themselveson the quality of the clothing that they are selling. This is exemplified through the signs that are picturedbelow. Von Maur is looking to capitalize off of their customers and I believe this is great. While theoverall community of the store feels very personable and encourages you to return, it is important thatthe appearance of the store doesn’t convey a message about the store that may hinder customers fromreturning. Nevertheless, it is understood that because they have dedicated customers therefore majorrenovations are not necessary. Consequently, I did observe that while there is a women’s ‘back room’sales there are no sales for men.
Opportunities: I believe that the strategy that Von Maur has works for them and their clients. However, Ido believe that a ‘back room’ section for the men customers would be a great gesture so that they couldindulge in shoe sales. Observation 6 – Target: ‘Make The Idea Permanent’Insights: Target is the second largest discount retailer in the country; serving communities as a one stopshop for anything needed inside a house for a family. Target is best known for once being associatedwith Marshall Field’s (Presently Macy’s).Observations: Target has a very wide floor plan with all departments conveniently sectioned offaccording to their function. I noticed that the illuminating lights light up the store beautifully and makescustomers feel that this is a store that you can feel comfortable browsing through even if it isn’t itemsthat aren’t being searched for intentionally. They have partnered with Pizza Hut and Starbucks toprovide the modern mother the option to buy popcorn or pizza for their child while they indulge oncoffee for themselves.Opportunities: With the multiple lanes of registers, I believe that Target has the opportunity of usingthe extra registers to make it possible for customers to not have to wait in lines and to increaseunemployment.