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Retail Environment


for an ability to process transactions swiftly and the other for the level of service provided. It then approached design consultants and now it is the high street that casts envious glances in Apple’s direction.

Pay a visit to the museum

It may be that high street competitors do not provide the best opportunities for seeing what is possible when it comes down to the business of making an in- store card offer distinctive.

“Given the density of merchandising in the mid-shop, it would be easy to miss the cards if they were sold in conventional fashion on a few spinners and some slat wall around the perimeter”

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ith the number of card retailers, chains and independents on our high streets, you’d imagine that anyone wishing to set up

a greetings card operation in a non-traditional environment might be able to learn a lesson or two from them. Yet oddly, wander into any large museum and the chances are pretty good that they might be able to provide a few pointers to those whose only mission is to sell cards and associated merchandise in quantity. In a way, it’s a bit like the Apple stores that seem to be springing up all over the place (although there are in reality still relatively few of these). This was a computer brand that decided it wanted to sell directly to consumers through a network of shops and it did not go to the high street to work out what needed to be done. Instead, it took a look at fast food outlets and upscale dry cleaners – the fi rst

The same could be said of museums and the approach they have adopted to selling cards. The modern museum always has a shop – there are exhibition catalogues to be sold and, of course, greetings cards, postcards and wrapping paper, based more often than not on the permanent collections. Take the V&A. This is an internationally famous museum and its shop is not far from the main entrance. Within this there lies an impressive range of gifts, jewellery and clothing, all of which takes its lead from the V&A’s vast array of artefacts and art treasures. And then there are cards. Given the density of merchandising in the mid-shop, it would be easy to miss the cards if they were sold in conventional fashion on a few spinners and some slat wall around the perimeter. They are not and instead, the museum opts to put postcards and greetings cards on the perimeter with a display that merchandises the stock from fl oor to ceiling. The shop in the V&A has a very high ceiling, so this display is immediately visible from afar, although around half of what is shown is impossible to shop. The cards on the upper portion of the display are no more than wallpaper. Look more closely and it quickly becomes apparent that there is much repetition and that everything up high is on sale further down the wall - still better than having duplicate cards in a stock drawer. There is nothing remarkable about any of this, but the next time you take a look at high street card retailers, just note the point at which cards and display gondola end and bare wall or at best some tired looking point-of-sale, begins. The V&A uses stock as its point-of-sale and in-store navigational sign in a simple, but appealing manner. And given that card retailing is as much about impulse purchasing as anything else, at the V&A the bestsellers are located on the wall directly adjacent to the cash desk. Again, consider how frequently high street card offers are some distance from the till. The V&A works simply by having two discrete card walls located around the shop and then a last-minute operation close to the point of purchase. It’s amazing how often these simple ploys are overlooked in a dash towards something more complex and generally less appealing. Museums are to card selling what Apple is to technology retailing. Pay a visit to your local museum and then take a look at the nearest high street. There may well be differences.

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