Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Things that make you go ‘hmmmm’

Inspiration often comes from unlikely places. I suppose that’s part of what makes it ‘inspiration’. Well, actually, I tend to have something more like flashes of excitement about random quotes or statistics that I run across while reading industry publications, trade journals, or retail rags.

Yes, I’m in bad need of hobbies.

That aside…there have been a number things lately that have peeked my interest. I’ve left them smoldering in the back of my mind (or piled on my kitchen table) in hopes that they would combine, combust, and create a robust, flowing entry for The Muse.

Alas, no flames. No eloquent, inspirational narrative to thread them all together into a witty and insightful commentary on campus retail or retail at large.

So, I resort to brain dump. You get a list of random quips that tickled my fancy. A TOP FIVE list of things that made me go “hmmm”.

1. Community and partnerships is good for everyone.
The Association of College Unions International (ACUI) is all about college unions and student activities programs creating partnerships and building community on campus to both support student learning--maximizing their own relevance to the institution along the way. Sounds like something we’ve all been talking about. What relationships and partnerships does your store have going on with these “community builders” on campus? Might be a great way to enhance your connections to students, faculty, and the campus community as a whole.

2. Paint by numbers
A regular installment in the NRF Stores publication lists ‘numbers worth counting’. They are often interesting…sometimes staggering. Sometimes they combine to paint an interesting picture of what’s up in retail. From the June 2007 issue, consider:

- 4 : credit cards carried by the average American
- 13% : Consumers who say the Internet has not improved their in-store shopping experience.
- 22,000 : SKUs of grocery items now offered by
- 251 million : Number of broadband households worldwide.
- $15.73 billion : Estimate of the amount spent on Mother’s Day gifts.

3. You going bananas yet?
Also in a recent Stores magazine—Bananas!

The average American eats 28 pounds of bananas a year. It’s the #1 fruit in the country and a breakfast favorite. Chiquita Brands sold nearly 2.3 billion pounds of bananas in North America last year…mostly in those bunches you grab at the grocery.

But consumer convenience has again ‘inspired’ a market innovation. Enter the Chiquita-to-Go program offering individual bananas in more than 7500 convenience stores in the U.S.

As if the convenience and potential market weren’t enough—Chiquita has designed a P-O-P “box” that’ll just drive you bananas. Why not visit and get some general merchandise to go with?

4. More numbers
Did I tell you how much I LOVE the “Retail Figures” from the NRF (May 2007 Stores). Get a load of these and think about the impact on your business, products you should be considering, or just the sheer brilliance of knowing:

- $6 billion : Size of U.S. natural/organic personal care product market.
- $1.3 billion : Value of organic beverage sales last year.
- 4,000 : Number of retail locations selling smoothies.
- 70%/50% : Women/Men who say they are trying to eat healthier food these days.
- 15% : Individuals who have visited a health clinic inside a retail store.

Bonus Stat!
- 4 minutes: The longest that 80 percent of shoppers will wait in a checkout line before expressing dissatisfaction.

5. What REALLY matters!
No surprise…it’s our people. Data recently compiled by BIGresearch indicates what frustrates shoppers most when browsing stores. The top three?
“Uh, I don’t know.” (Employees don’t know/care: 21%)
“Anyone…Anyone…?” (Understaffed store: 21%)
“That’s not my department.” (Bad customer service: 20%)

So there you have it….
Random thoughts that, sadly enough, have nagged at the back of my brain for weeks now.

Perhaps they will give you pause. Maybe they’ll give you ideas. If not, I promise more inspiration and less rambling next time we meet.

Tony Ellis, CAE

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

New Blog for You!

In our unending effort to inform, delight, and amuse...we link to other blogs that you might wish to follow.

At the bottom of The Retail Muse site, you'll find our meager, but growing, list.

Just added: Omnibus.

The official blog of the ABA, this blog is "a regular update on bookselling, retail, authors, culture, technology, and ... ."


The Retail Muse