Sunday, June 7, 2009

Retail Operations Need A Revolution

Over the last 2 days I've been in Costco, Whole Foods, Target and Macy's. I've been struck by how much floor layout and store design make it hard to find what you're looking for compared to the web.

At Macy's, few brands actually fit so I want to go straight to that brand, look, try on or not and leave. This is a "sort by brand strategy", and easy on the web. A brand map at each entrance would have accomplished this. However, I had to wander around in search of the brand with no clues as to how the brands are organized. Why is Jones of New York here and Ralph Lauren there?

At Target, they already understand this. In the shampoos sections, they have signs sticking out in the aisle facing you so you can read them while you're pushing your card looking straight ahead. In large arial font the signs say "Tresemme" or "Aussie". It's easy to go to your brand directly and not be overwhelmed by the plethora of options.

I've been to my nearby Whole Foods store about 6 times now and I still don't grasp the layout. WF has divided the fruits and veg section into "Conventional" as in "may have insecticide" and "Organic". However, the Conventional sign is hanging over displays that have only organic food. So, is there no conventional fruit and veg in the store?

Don't even get me started on Costco. Food sample stations on a Sunday clog cart traffic throughout the store. This complication is double trouble because people already struggle as soon as the roll into the store. They suddenly lose their "other" awareness, if they had any at all, and park their carts across the aisle so that no one else can pass even without the demo stations. They lose their minds, literally.

Confusing store design drives me out of these places without purchasing as much as I would have. Expectations of how things should work in the physical world have changed as a result of our experience shopping on the internet and brick and mortar stores need to invest and improve as a result.

BTW this also counts as Day #13 BBB Challenge: Visit a Mall.
For links to other BBB entries visit Day #11: Come up with 10 Post Ideas.

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