Archive for the ‘Merchandising’ Category

Service of Don’t Tell Me What To Do

Thursday, October 19th, 2023

Bloomingdale’s 2023 Christmas shop is open already.

A crackerjack retailer friend said the other day, “People don’t like to be told what to do. They resent it.”

She remembered the talking-to a customer gave her when she asked the woman to please not remove the reeds from a diffuser because the splashed liquid stained the floor and walls of the shop as well as nearby merchandise.

I’m sure you’ve noticed how difficult to impossible it is to perfectly put things back in their packaging. For this reason she keeps samples at hand so customers don’t need to open anything. Nevertheless, she’s been snapped at when requesting that they check out the ones already unboxed.

It takes a special hand and eye and an expert merchandiser to make attractive product vignettes. She’s known for this. As customers reach for an item on display—even in the window—she knows the ones that are precarious or the items that are most difficult to present and she offers to get a fresh item from inventory the better to inspect. Dirty looks and grumbles are often the result. [She does not work at Bloomingdale’s where I photographed complicated displays above and below.]

Anger ensued when she asked one of two parents to leave a stroller on the porch of a tiny shop already crowded with people.

Do you ask before removing items from a retail display? Do you become angry if someone asks you to stop what you’re doing in a store? Should the customer always be right?

Another complicated display in the 2023 Bloomingdale’s Christmas shop.

Service of Apathy by Volunteers, Employees & Corporations

Thursday, May 19th, 2022

Merchandise at Target to celebrate Memorial Day

A star volunteer just described a successful fundraising event she chaired with such enthusiasm and joy it was a delight to hear as well as a relief.

That’s because I’ve observed that many are dragging at their tasks lately. What once were teams of vigorous volunteers in chambers of commerce, industry associations, charities and parent teacher groups many appear, in the last few years, to have given up. They have lost their magic. Their behavior reminds me of a childhood game of hot potato only it’s adults are passing the responsibilities and tasks–not spuds–on to the next person to follow through. This person has no energy either. I suspect that many of the ones who gladly rolled up their sleeves became tired of carrying the ball for the chronically lethargic.

It’s not only happening for volunteers. Last week at a Manhattan branch of Target I noticed a vivid example. I was shocked to see favors, decorations and American flags to enhance Memorial Weekend celebrations tossed in a sloppy heap in a bin. There were no empty shelves to merchandise them properly although someone might have arranged them artfully, using the metal basket openings to hold the larger flags giving more room inside to neatly stack the wreaths, garlands and packages of small flags.

And what about the United States Postal Service? Yes, I still send bills and cards by mail. I feel constrained by the change that happened silently in my neighborhood. Where there were as many as 3 pickups at some postboxes, now there is only one at either 10:00 AM or 11:00 AM. The postman who delivers to my building told me his buddy’s job is to pick up the mail from these boxes and he has nothing to do all afternoon. As a customer, it’s more than irritating and I feel that the service is exhausted and doesn’t care. A 4:00 PM or 5:00 PM pickup would be better if there is only one.

Have you noticed apathy or enthusiasm lately in the way people are carrying out tasks whether as volunteers, corporations or employees?


Image by Mary Pahlke from Pixabay

Service of Little Things Mean A Lot

Thursday, May 9th, 2019

Like a paper cut the tiniest thing can irritate big time. The fix is often so simple as to be ridiculous. Yet it can take time to face.

The bathtub in my new apartment needs a stopper. When we first moved in I bought the wrong size and for two months I’ve annoyed myself every day by having to adjust the thing several times to fill one tub. The stopper would slip out of place with the force of the water hitting it so the water leaked out.

For $1.49 at a full-price midtown NYC hardware store two blocks from my office and a proper measurement of the bathtub drain I solved the problem in seconds. Such relief! And it took me weeks to attend to this simple chore.

In another instance I was at CVS Drug Store looking for an item. As I scrunched to the ground and up again several times in front of a brand I heard a voice on the loud speaker: “Customer in the makeup department.” I was the only one there! I wondered if I’d touched a button—I hadn’t.

An employee appeared [spooky] and asked if she could help. I told her what I was looking for. They had split the brand so that half of its products were on one side of the aisle and the other across the aisle! I’d never have figured that out. Amazing! She apologized and admitted that the placement could be confusing.

Are there little things that get on your nerves in your home or office that would take little to fix and would make a big difference? Do you attend to them immediately or drag your feet? Has obscure merchandising in a store tripped you up? Do you think CVS has lost sales by splitting a brand’s beauty products across an aisle?

Service of Fleeting Impressions: Eye-Popping Displays, a Dash of Vintage and Middle Eastern Vibes at NY Now

Monday, August 27th, 2018

MT masking tape, Japan

In a quick visit to NY Now, the former New York International Gift Fair, I saw striking, contemporary displays by companies with decades under their belts as well as vintage-inspired products and some Middle Eastern accents.

MT, a Japanese masking tape manufacturer, had a most outstanding display [photo above and below right].

MT masking tape, Japan

At first I thought I was looking at long plastic straws in wonderful colors suspended from above and only on closer inspection did I realize that I was looking at unrolled spools of masking tape meticulously installed! MT’s tape is made of Washi paper. Its website claims that the paper is strong and “extremely thin compared with those made in other countries.” The company—its factory launched in 1923–stands by its adhesive which it claims leaves no trace when removed. Its color range may be more extensive than most. For sure its booth designer is visionary and the installers extremely patient.

Meloria by Graziani, Italy

My photo doesn’t do justice to the striking Meloria by Graziani booth. Like MT, its fresh look belies the age of the manufacturer: The candle company was founded in Tuscany in 1805 and Meloria is one of its brands. Ball-shaped candles, some, in saturated colors, joined pastel hues and naturals reminiscent of lush hedges, cherries, cabbages and oranges as well as a shiny black 8-ball. Unlike many booths crowded with choices, this one focused on only two shapes, the ball and tapers with a twist.

Alexander Girard wooden dolls

You couldn’t miss the giant replicas of Alexander Girard’s family of wooden dolls in the Vitra booth. The original human and animal characters designed by Girard in 1953 to decorate his home in Santa Fe are in the Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, Germany. According to the website, the dolls are made and painted by hand today and precisely replicate the originals.

Filt string bags

Mahogany

Booths with a vintage spirit included Mahogany’s flannel nightwear in patterns inspired by the 40s and 50s and Filt’s string bags colored brightly to distinguish them from the natural originals that for decades European shoppers brought to the market to fill with comestibles.

I noticed a Middle Eastern vibe in some of the booths such as Zenza Home, Selamat Designs and jazzy tablemats in the back wall of Kim Sebert’s booth. I also thought the crystal fireplace in Kathryn McCoy’s booth would fit well in a Middle Eastern style manor house.

Have you noticed retailers with remarkable displays, seen or received any great gifts recently or noted striking trends in your forays online or about town? Are you surprised that some venerable brands–a candle manufacturer over 200 years old and a maker of masking tape almost 100–excel at projecting a hip, trendy image?

Kathryn McCoy

Selamat Designs

Zenza Home

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