Monday, August 24, 2009

Sometimes a Great Notion - August 24

With Fall 2009 back to school rush hitting campuses right about now, The Retail Muse stands in some lineups, reads the NYT, wonders about those new discounts at Abercrombie, thinks about the campus tour, and pauses to consider voice recognition for finding textbooks. 

Shuffling through the long line, The Retail Muse practices some shadow puppets, to lighten the mood and keep all amused. 

Happy lineup notions! 

The waiting is the hardest part. 

You don't have to tell a campus retailer that the biggest challenge during rush, is managing the lineup and wait times. Still, according to the Wall Street Journal, the biggest, ongoing checkout lineups  continue to be with your local grocery store. And it's driving customers nuts. The biggest complaint mentioned by customers, outside of waiting time,  is fairness. No matter what line you take at the checkout, you will end up in  the slowest one. 

Now retailers are moving from individual checkout lines, to one large line. Just like banks, airlines, and College Stores! 

Buffing the price. 

After insisting that they would stand firm on  their pricing strategy, no matter what the economy was doing, retailer Abercrombie and Fitch has finally blinked. After a recent quarterly loss, Abercrombie is revisiting it's retail prices, and looking for ways to add value, and appeal to cost conscience buyers. Not sure if this is too little, too late, but desperate times calls for desperate measures, even in the buff world of A and F. 

Backwards, forwards. 

Colleges are looking at ways to improve the college tours says the New York Times. Besides focusing on more dialogue with the attendees, the biggest change for college tour guides is to walk forwards! That's right, auditors of college tours noted that being a tour guide, walking backwards all the time, resulted in a rather challenging conversation, and the risk of hitting trees. 

Sensible markdowns. 

BusinessWeek has an interesting article on the perils of discounting, focusing on the top three rules of sensible markdowns. Discount briefly, discount credibly, discount creatively. An excellent article for all buyers, merchandisers and managers to consult before slashing prices. 

The death of the textbook. 

It must be August, when the media goes to print with the latest and greatest ideas to avoid purchasing textbooks. The New York Times has an exhaustive article on publisher direct textbook rentals, while a recent article from canwest news service voices enthusiasm over the virtual textbooks as convenient as a students' iPhone. 

Speak to me. 

If customers are getting lost in your store, searching out the required titles for this fall, then this might be for you. Ace Hardware is rolling out a pilot program to tell customers where in the store items are located, via their cell phone, and voice recognition software. The customer says the name of the product, and then, the system tells the customer where the product is located in the specific store. Presumably this will make shopping for nuts and bolts that much easier, but imagine if this worked for your textbooks! 


Only the cold hearted dislike bunnies and shadow puppets. US Cellular has just launched a new ad that has nothing to do with cell phones, but everything to do with charm. you can check out the video below, which should put a smile on anyone's face. 

1 comment:

Newsfop said...

Sadly where I work, all of our back-to-school supplies came to the sales floor literally 2 seconds before schools let out for the summer. Talk about your summer bummer. It's often very hard to avoid depression when you're working in an environment that is constantly 4-6 months ahead of its representative holidays. Craft stores are particularly harsh with jumping the holiday gun. Our Christmas ribbon came out on July 31st.