Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sometimes a great Notion - September 14

This week the Retail Muse talks marriage. The marriage of IPhone and textbooks, DVDs and vending, smart screens and shelf tags, billboards and tote bags, and of course, dollar stores and wedding vows.

Happy wedded bliss notions!

There's (not) an App for that.

Randall Stross, Business instructor at San Jose State University, took a hard cold look at reading textbooks on the apple Iphone. Using the apple Iphone app etextbooks, developed by CourseSmart, Stross found that reading a traditional textbook, on a small six square inches of display, was tiresome and tedious. The traditional paper book still wins in his eyes. While he sees some benefits of Kindle applications for textbook reading, until the price drops, he doesn't see students swooping into ebooks in big numbers.

Publishers who founded CourseSmart, sell up the convenience factor of etextbooks, but Stross points out that as a practical application, there is not an app for the textbook / Iphone marriage.

Cranking out the DVDs

Every few years in the retail landscape, someone comes up with a new vending machine that will change the world. Most fail or never live up to expectations, but Redbox might be changing that. Redbox is an Illinois company that rents DVDs through a fully automated vending machine, charging $1 for the rental. By the end of the year, Redbox plans to have 22,000 machines placed in supermarkets, WalMart and convenience stores.

Redbox is not the only player in this opening market. DVDPlay and MovieCube are two others, with Blockbuster, about to launch their own version of vending movie rentals. Citing convenience, ease of use, and a wide range of popular titles, consumers are gaining acceptance of this fast form of rental. Retailers see this service as a way to draw regular traffic into stores.

Seems like campus stores would be a great place for a Redbox or two.

Epaper Shelf Tags.

A Seattle natural food market will begin testing the latest invention, the epaper shelf tags from ZBD Solutions. Instead of paper shelf tags, the tags utilize small LCD displays to broadcast price, description and promotional information. While the company is touting this technology innovation as an environmentally friendly solution, the other major benefit is the ability to update information quickly and easily. The tags are clear, easy to read and a size that is perfect for all that textbook course information. Something that most campus retailers pull their hair out trying to manage.

Tote a billboard

Target is always a clever and ingenious retailer with an artistic flair. Pairing up with designer Anna Sui, Target plans to reuse their Times Square billboards into trendy exclusive tote bags. Certainly a great recycling of otherwise disposed of advertising material. The totes will be sold in target stores nationally, beginning January 2010.

99 cent vows.

The Hollywood, California (well where else?) Cents Only dollar store wins the prize for best in store promotion ever, inviting nine couples to be married in their store for the princely sum of 99 cents. After the 5 minute wedding ceremony, behind dented cans of chicken noodle soup, the newly married couples attended a reception, entirely made up of 99 cent lunch items, and then were whisked off to a luxury hotel for the honeymoon.

Over 500 entries were received for the promotion, so it seems that the pursuit of frugality knows no bounds these days. No comment on what exactly the buffet was with 99 cent luncheon items. We'll leave that to your imagination.

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