Tuesday, June 22, 2010

From Loss Prevention to Iggy Pop

The Muse found a few interesting nuggets from the giant world of retailing that might be of interest. Loss Prevention, Texas IKEA Gen Y speak and a little bit of Iggy Pop. What more can you ask for as Summer officially begins:

Whole lot of Loss Prevention Going on
An interesting article from an NRF Retail blog, described how two companies made modifications to their returns policy in order to combat ongoing fraud. Making simple changes, such as asking for Identification, and asking questions about the return, was a couple of changes these companies made, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process. It's worth a read, and to think critically about your store's return policy now, in anticipation of the upcoming Fall "Rush" period.

Conversely, a story in the New York Times describes the practices of stores in the NYC area where detaining shoplifters, displaying shoplifter photographs, and demanding payment for stolen goods, is infringing on people rights. It's a cautionary tale of what NOT to to when confronted with shoplifting, and once again is a "rush" focused reminder for you and your staff.

Big Hat / IKEA Cattle.
A curious article appeared in the Houston Chronicle concerning the newly renovated Houston IKEA Store. Besides the fact that Swedish meatballs are $1.00 as a grand opening special, I was struck by the news that IKEA was modifying it's furniture offerings to be more "country" focused. 30% of the products are now country style compared to the contemporary Swedish style we have all come to expect from a typical IKEA store. I guess that is what people like in Texas?

An IKEA spokesperson stated that the company does a fair amount of adapting to the local market. This was a bit of a surprise, as I have never noticed this. Perhaps I live in a Swedish friendly town?

As an aside, note that IKEA is continuing it's focus on college store dorm room solutions. Ideas to take back to your own store! I also like that IKEA is shifting production into the US rather than off shore. Good to see a big corporation seize on the "made in the USA" idea these days.

It Smells So Good.
All along I thought that the smell emanating from my local Abercrombie and Fitch store was coming from the shirtless dudes spritzing cologne throughout their shift. Turns out I am wrong. There are many companies that scent the whole building for you. From apartment blocks to retailers (including Abercrombie), they supply an "ambient scent" process to bring customers in, and provide a relaxed setting. It's a growing industry, and is the latest and greatest retail environment craze. Much simpler than getting your staff to spray your campus cologne over the heads of customers standing in line...

Wearing Heritage and Nostalgia.
A fascinating article, again from the New York Times, points out the burgeoning trend of nostalgia and heritage clothing items. Eddie Bauer is re-introducing the WWII airplane pilot bomber jacket. Janzen is introducing a swimsuit modeled after 1940's pin up girl fashion, and L.L.Bean is revising a hunting shoe from a 1911 catalogue.

All of this heritage couture is an attempt to appeal to customers on an emotional level. Trading in on our nostalgic thoughts of a simpler, gentler time. It made me think that while retailers are combing their back catalogues for inspiration, perhaps college stores should be doing the same thing. Checking out graphics and logos from the forties and fifties, and refreshing them for today. Creating a private label line of iconic nostalgia wear.

Talk Gen Y
Plan on your customers speaking to you in a language you don't understand. But no fear. Now you can brush up on some Gen Y slang for this fall. The link here gives a quick overview of some new slang to know. I particularly like OMLG (Oh my Lady Gaga), to replace OMG. The article also suggested checking out urbandictionary.com - a great resource to while away some time at work. After all it's customer research!

I am the (online) Passenger.
Special Group Advertising just won a major international award for their Iggy Pop video, promoting ORCON Broadband service in New Zealand. Special Group held auditions for Kiwi's to play Iggy Pop's "passenger" song while he sang along. The kicker? Iggy was in Miami, and the amateur musicisans where all in New Zealand, connected live through ORCON's broadband service. (The video is below). It's a marvelous video, not only for the shirtless Iggy punk smirk, but also that it sells the service so well. Not sure it has a practical college store application, but it does make me sit up and take notice.

As Iggy Says:
Socks are good.

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