Shopping Centers Today International

FEB 2016

Shopping Centers Today is the news magazine of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)

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F e b r u a r y 2 0 1 6 / S C T 39 favorite store," she said. "They have one of each size on the rack, with plenty more in the back for you. The customer ser- vice is fantastic, but the point is, you can breathe and see. It's much more of a boutique experi- ence." By comparison, shopping at some department stores can seem like a chore, Wein says. "You walk through and the racks are just packed, with clothes falling off the hangers and onto the floor. If there are 10 places in a store where you can find a black skirt, that is not convenient for anyone." Though the specialty sector does not typically rely on convenience-oriented strategies, the showroom-style stores of such chains as Bonobos, Pirch, Restora- tion Hardware and Warby Parker high- light the potential benefits of making shopping easy by eliminating clutter, Wein says. Restoration Hardware's new RH showrooms feature multiple floors of carefully arranged furniture, lighting and other home furnishings — all of it sold as delivery-only, with no backroom for inventory. "RH, the new Restoration Hardware format, truly looks like a home you would never want to leave," Wein said. "Affluent shoppers — RH's target customers — can walk in and say, 'I want all of this.' That's convenient. Customers don't have to run around town and deal with an interior designer. They can just walk in, love it and have it." Formerly online-only retailers like Bonobos and Warby Parker, in particu- lar, are adept at running showrooms in ways that please the customer, says Green. "They're already accustomed to delivering all of the merchandise," he said. "We're going to see this [show- room model] more and more as other online retailers go into the brick-and- mortar space." Bonobos and Warby Parker take convenience a step further by focusing on personalized service as well, Green says. "Convenience is more than just your proximity to a store," he said. "It's also about how much interac- tion you have with the salesperson." The showroom model is certainly not appropriate for every retailer, cau- tions Jerry Hoffman, founder of Hoff- man Strategy Group, an urban retail and integral-use consulting firm. "When people go shopping, they often still want to leave the store with their items," Hoff- man said, "but if you're doing some- thing like tailored clothing, then the showroom is a brilliant model." In adopting smaller store formats with fewer items on display, retailers also risk losing out on revenue from im- pulse purchases, notes Underhill. "Part of what we know is that in the grocery store and mass-merchandiser sectors, half of what we buy we had no intention of buying when we walked in the door," he said. Even something as seemingly be- nign as removing clutter can, in some cases, carry unintended consequences, Underhill says. "If you stop somebody on the street or in the store and ask whether they like clutter," Underhill said, "it is sort of like saying, 'Do you beat your wife?' The answer is always no. But research shows that once you take the clutter out, sales decline." In its own way, in other words, a "stack it high" merchandising approach can communicate messages about the balance between price and convenience at a given store. For Nick A. Egelanian, president of SiteWorks Retail, an An- napolis, Md.–based consultant firm, JCPenney's failed reinvention is a cau- tionary tale about the need for such messages to be easily understood by consumers. "When Ron Johnson went to Penney [as CEO], he moved to every- day low prices trying to compete with the Walmarts and Targets of the world," Egelanian said. "But Penney was never going to be as convenient as Walmart and Target, which are positioned much closer to the customer." Moreover, Egelanian observes, John- son's focus on bringing specialty store- in-store concepts to Penney sent a con- tradictory message — namely, that the chain aimed to focus on specialty retail, which is typically associated with higher prices. "Trying to be something that ap- peals to the discretionary income of the customer, that didn't work, either," Ege- lanian said. "If it doesn't compute, you don't go. Johnson confused customers, and they stopped going." S C T "Convenience is more than just your proximity to a store. It's also about how much interaction you have with the salesperson."

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