Sunday, June 29, 2008

If it's FREE, it's me.

Looking for a cheap (even FREE) way to promote your next store event, new hours, buyback promotion, or author signing?

Try This web-based printing company offers free (yes, free) business cards and very inexpensive postcards, tee shirts, and other items. Sometimes they run free offers on postcards and such, too.

Here's the deal. You can get 250 business cards printed in full color using your choice of about 45 stock designs. Choose a design that floats your boat, use the text entry fields for the "business card" for the text you need to use for your event. The business model is based on upgrades to items they offer for free and the other items that they sell.

See the screen shot of the sample I mocked up on their site earlier today (click on the image for the large version). I went about it as if I was going to host a Poetry Slam event at the store. You could get the cards printed and sent to you and then use them at your registers and other places to hand out to customers.

Not a bad bit of promotion...considering it's free!

Tony Ellis, CAE

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Make 'em try it!

A younger friend of mine works at Old Navy. Since he's in their target audience, he (and other employees) are great judges of the styles, colors, prints, and fit of the clothing that Old Navy carries.

Yesterday he was grumping about having to try on clothes all day at work.

"What?!" I asked.

He replied by explaning that Old Navy is doing a company-wide evaluation of new styles that they just released to their stores. They have asked that every store ask a group of employees (in the target demographic, of course) try on the clothes in the new line and provide feedback to management. That feedback will be sent in, consolidated with other stores, and result in some outstanding information for Old Navy merchandise planners and buyers.

So you know what's coming next... .
- Do you have your student employees try on your new fashions?
- Do you involved your student employeers and customers in reviewing new styles in the vendor catalogs?
- Do you take students along to CAMEX and other buying events?

Just how involved are your student customers in your merchandise selection, planning, and evaluation?

If you want to meet their needs, you should start by talking to them.

If you want to engage them as customers...engage them as partners in the process!

Tony Ellis, CAE

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Picture’s Worth A 1,000 Visits

Retail is becoming more and more about providing engagement, entertainment, and memories. That notion has been around for years now and continues to gain traction.

Well, coming home from a business trip the other day I spotted a new “ad” for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Yes, Cleveland (OH) is the home of the Rock Hall—even though NYC always gets the limelight of the induction…but I digress.

This new wall-sized (think window display in your store) is set up to allow you to take your picture and look as if you're at the microphone in front of the Rock Hall and thousands of screaming fans. See the pic--click on it to enlarge.

I know it's not the best picture, but there were some little kids lining up for a pic of their own and I didn’t want to look like some kind of pervert stopping to take their picture. Besides, I took the picture on the fly so as not to delay claiming my luggage and getting home! :-) Still, you can tell that by positioning your camera just right, you get a fun souvenir pic!I’m not sure how easily this might transfer into the college store. But with today’s poster makers and fabric screen-printing—I could see some fun applications:
- Get in the Game (for big game days)
- Graduation?
- Pics with the Mascot for a spirit display?

Come on…you can come up with something! I’m just here to muse….

Tony Ellis, CAE

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Priority: Retail!

The NACS Education Committee and Board of Trustees both met for their summer meetings in the last few weeks.

In separate, but related, exercises to update and establish strategic direction, both groups agreed that Retailing should be a strategic focus for programs and information sharing from NACS to the membership during the coming years.

Speficially, they various discussions suggested the following:
- Understanding the student customer.
- Analyzing and implementing research on retail trends, etc.
- Staying abreast of retail best practices.
- Identifying new products and services to offer.
- Offering premiere customer service.
- Understanding and communicating the store's value contribution to the campus/communcation (a form of marketing and branding, if you will).

So, you can only imagine that my mind is spinning with ideas and excitement about all the things there will be to muse about this year.

The Retail Muse

Friday, June 20, 2008

Product Watch ~

Once again, David Crass, Associate Director of The University of Arizona BookStores, chimes in on the Muse to share a hot product.

This time, David pitches the entire category of non-emblematic, fashion-forward clothing as "Very successful!"

Thanks David!

The Retail Muse

Monday, June 16, 2008

It's all in a name... .

The focus on creating an experience and unique environments in retail continues. So much so that the National Association of Store Fixture Manufacturers (NASFM) is now the Association for Retail Environments (A.R.E.). Yes...there's an association for everything!

If you're in the market for fixtures, consider checking out this month's VM&SD magazine--The Fixture Issue. If you don't subscribe or have access, they're online at Subscribe online at

The Retail Muse

Friday, June 13, 2008

Boring no more.

How many front page web site have you glanced at this year? Hundreds? Thousands? Do you remember any of them? Usually boring lists of text in 8-point font and endless clickable links or, worse yet, obnoxious pop-up flash ads vibrating on your screen.

While many mainstream retailers have tried to make their sites a little bit more interesting with cool graphics and slick transitions, it seems like it has all been done before and, more often that not, I bet you’re like me and scramble to click the little box at the bottom letting you “Skip Ad.”

But wait – here’s a site that is fun, clever, smart and just makes you smile. Allow for it to load up when you go to

Hemo ( is a Dutch Department store with over 150 stores in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, and Germany. They have been in business since 1926. Watching and interacting with the front page I couldn’t help but notice that no matter how boring a tea kettle or garbage can (or textbook!) is, adding some fun and play to the product makes it that much more appealing.

Mark Patten