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PART 2: Visual Merchandising: Storefront Window Displays & Online Promos

. Dennis Schleicher

Team Photo

I was lucky to be able to take the promotions group on a field trip down State Street in Chicago to look at different window displays and to see if we could get any ideas for web-based promotions.

Our fieldtrip started off as we gathered at the elevators. One of the promo team actually was trained and had worked in visual merchandising before and she talked about some of her experiences.

Interior Display in Sears

Then we went downstairs and out through the Sears Store that is below our offices. As we walked out we looked at the interior displays, such as the one's from Land's End and discussed how the role of interior displays and exterior window displays differ. The primary role of the exterior is to grab your attention and then get you in the store. The interior displays are to get you to put the merchandise in your shopping cart even if that item wasn't originally on your "shopping list." The interior display had merchandise for sale and the top of the rack had a colorful sign on it. The main technology for attention getting in use was the placement of the rack in the middle of a walk way. We saw that people actually had to maneuver around the rack to move throughout the store. It reminded us of an interstitial ad, interrupting the most direct path of the walkers.

Sears' Land's End Window Display on State Street Chicago

The exterior window display of Land's End was really interesting. The display is surrounded by branding messages. One message called out "Save" while another told you there were 10 types of gift ideas you should look at. The other windows then took you through each of the 10 gift ideas. One thing we noticed was that the window display did not let the observer see into the store. There was a solid background. Also the items in the display were not all for sale. Some of the items were props, such as the sled and the little evergreen trees. We wondered how does one make a promo so that the "props" are not confused with the item we want people to be attracted to and to buy. IKEA is one store that seems to make large displays in which almost every single item is an item that one can purchase, including the pictures that are on the walls. As we watched the people walk by the windows, they seemed to not notice the windows until they were directly in front of them. Their angle of sight was very severe and not until the passerby was right on top did they look at the display.

Window Display from H&M on State Street Chicago

When we looked at the H&M window it was very different. There was a display, but there was no background so one could easily see the racks of merchandise. Also the display had groups of items, outfits. If you look near the bottom of each outfit you can see a price placard. But interestingly, they don't sum up all the individual prices to show the price of the outfit. The H&M display was very effective at catching people's attention. On the right side of the image you can see the 20% sign. The sign was at an angle and thus very easy to see while walking along. We even saw people stop to read the sign. This window display also allowed the passerby to look continuously to the side and not have their line of sight broken by window frames of structural wall supports.

Window Display, Nordstrom's Off the Rack on State Street Chicago

Lastly, the Nordstrom's window display was nonexistent. They just had the racks of apparel right up to the windows. Interesting in that the product itself is the display. It did appear that the labels of the different brands attached to the top of each rack were oriented so that a passerby can easily read them. Even though this display was the most visually full it didn't seem to catch people's attention. Perhaps it was just too much so that people didn't know what to look at.

Some of the Issues or Problems we discussed that might be analogous to web promotions

  • How much product is too much product?

  • Should promos allow you see product (or just say Free Shipping)?

  • How to let people know what items are props only and not for sale?

  • How to use products at different angles to get interest?

  • Should the promos on interior pages of a site be different than on the homepage?

  • How to handle "outfits" of apparel in terms of prices and sums?

  • Should you show all the different colors that an items comes in with a stack of sweaters one in each color?

Real World Benefits from Social Media?

. andrew

Real World Benefits from Social Media?

My colleague, Bryan Williamson, and I have been leveraging a site called Thepoint.com to help raise money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation. It all started during a casual conversation when I mentioned I needed a haircut, and Bryan asked if he could shave my head (I happen to have a thick, long and luxurious head of hair). I said he could for $1000 bucks.

We bantered back and forth and one of us came up with the idea of raising money for a charity and the highest bidder would get to shave my head. We set a goal of $2500 and started to leverage our social networks.

Surprisingly, we only raised about $300 during the first two weeks we were working our online networks. Then one day, during a departmental meeting, we mentioned the fundraiser and the donations started pouring in. That helped us quickly hit our goal.

I’ve been wondering why our online efforts garnered little traction. And what I have concluded is that nothing beats face-to-face communication — when you can look someone in the eye and connect. That’s why I think online face-to-face experiences will continue to increase and webcams will become ubiquitous. I think sites like Tokbox.com will push the envelope and soon we won’t ever have a conversation where we are not looking someone in the eye.

By the way, you can still donate to the cause here: http://tinyurl.com/ygbqoa4. Remember, it supports the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

Anatomy of a Black Friday Facebook Status

. Rod Rakic

It was
Black Friday, which was a huge day for us in the retail space. And while it wasn’t surprising to get reviews from people regarding their shopping highs and lows, we were excited to see how the retail experience had evolved in the U.S.

In this case, David, (a classmate of my wife's from back in high school) went to the store on Black Friday, intent on grabbing a great deal on a TV. David had a great in-store experience, and he shared it with all his friends online just like a lot of folks.

It's worth noting that his status update didn't come from a desktop computer, but from the Facebook app on his iPhone. (He probably didn't wait to get home before posting.) He was excited about his new TV, and naturally wanted to share.

It doesn't end there... David's friends responded to his status and started a conversation about the experience. (Some noting that they haven't had this sort of luck.) David followed up with comments to the original post later on and provided updates:

  • 1. The TV is now all set up, and it's "FREAKING SWEET!!!!" (his words)
  • 2. He found the same TV online at another dot com, but for around $500 more than he paid.
Sure he bragged a little, but he also helped friends by letting them know where to find a good deal.

David shared his experience beyond the transaction at the cash register, because it was a positive one. People use social media to complain about things, but customers can be just as vocal when they're happy.

There is no more online store and offline store … at least not how customers like David see it. Those worlds have blended together for consumers for a long time now, and Sears gets that.

Today these moments are shared, posted, commented on, searched for and archived ... the experience spreads further and further.

And as for you, David … congrats on the new TV.

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“DO NOT BUY THIS . . .” Product Reviews on a Real World Billboard

. Dennis Schleicher

"DO NOT BUY THIS. AFTER 5 YEARS IT WILL FALL APART." 65,842 people see this every day.

I see this big car advertising billboard at the Cleveland stop of the Blue Line CTA in Chicago. Look at the red writing "DO NOT BUY THIS. AFTER 5 YEARS IT WILL FALL APART." Someone wrote that on the billboard.

Billboard on the Blue Line to O'hare. I'd estimate 65,842 people see this every day.

Some people in the office said that near the college campuses this writing on the billboards is rampant.

Thought 1: How to leverage behavior public commenting

I thought, wow, if people are going to write on this. What kind of campaign could you have where you put blank links or dotted lines and pens hanging on chains to encourage people to write comments. Why haven't they put in Borders Bookstores little post-its for people to write their own comments about a book and post it beside the book. They do do that with store employees comments on a small selection of books.

Thought 2: How does this go virtual

I showed the photo to Rod Rakic and he said, that people are probably doing this virtually with things like google sideshare. I think the value here could be that the company could "look" and see what customer feedback is and perhaps change their ad to address it.


Viewership is based on the fact that 658,524 ride the system every day, 10 spokes feed into the city, this is one spoke therefore 1/10 of total.

Wordle of uxSEARS

. Dennis Schleicher

I've been using wordle lately to get a nice picture of what's on a webpage. Here is what a wordle looks like of uxSEARS. Go and made a wordle of your blog.

Social Search Diagram

. Dennis Schleicher

Here is a diagram that I adapted from a great paper by Brynn Evans, Sanjay Kairam, and Peter Pirolli. I am using it to help think through what kinds of features and content might be useful at different stages of online tasks.

Exploring the Cognitive Consequences of Social Search
There is nothing but "Social Shopping"

Visual Merchandising: Storefront Window Displays & Online Promos

. Dennis Schleicher

I had a good talk with our “promo” team last night during our afterparty to celebrate Andrew Daniels’ IxDA talk. They are the ones who make the promos that appear on the home page of Sears.com and Kmart.com. We were discussing what they do and I would argue that they have one of the most important job of the lot of us. I don’t think most people think promos as so important and I’d like to explain my thinking.

Promos should be called Promotion. Promotions are the key reason people buy. People see a discount or reduction or clearance price and they consider it to be a better buy than something without a discount. The promotions team should be looking at the product pages and seeing how we showcase “promotions” there too. It should be about explaining or showcasing thrift, the savings, the value. The promotions team should be thinking about social because people like to talk about and share their “saving savvy.” How could promotions support that. If you look at the twitter traffic, most of the Sears traffic is around promotions that are going on. So how can the promotions team make that easier?

Yanti, the promo manager got excited about this and so next week she asked if we could I could come talk to the promo team. I said yes, but on the condition that we take a field trip. The promotions team and I are going to go for a walk down State Street past the “window displays” of our State Street Sears store and the various competitiors. I think there are alot of learnings and inspirations we might be able to get from the window displays.

A simple example from which we might find inspiration could be storefront displays and how we create home page promos. While the guidelines of good interior displays might relate more to product page promotions. The basic rules of good visual merchandising should apply across the different media.


Dynamic Displays (Good checklists & basics of good design)

Cheese Window of Engagement (I analyze what I consider the best example of window display, it it the perfect mix of product and social. I still wonder if we can approach this perfection in the online world.)

UXsears hosts Chicago IxDA :: 18Nov2009


UXsears hosts Chicago IxDA
Nov. 18, 2009
1 North State Street, 12th Floor
From 6 – 8 PM

What does it mean to be “actively engaged” in your community?

We think it means putting ourselves into the mix. We are more than members, we are more than passive participants, we are active in the ongoing dialog that continuously challenges and refines the very work we are so passionate about doing.

As an extension of our commitment to being actively engaged, UXsears is hosting the November 18th gathering of the Chicago chapter of the Interaction Design Association (IxDA). We'll share stories about Sears - the $50 billion start-up. And how UX leads the way.

In many ways this is a coming out party for us. We are in the moment where we want to step higher and acknowledge our accomplishments and define our aspirations and goals for 2010.

Experience design can be a change agent, we all know that. We would like to share some of the ways in which we’ve found success. In fact, businesses are starting to realize that success is tied into customer experiences – with products, services and people – as much as it is based on how many dollars customers spend. Saying experience design is a differentiator is one thing, bringing your talent and passion to your work everyday and creating opportunities to affect change and actually doing it is another. We're proof.

Hosting the IxDA event is an opportunity for us to showcase some of our thinking, designs and ideas for the future of online retail, and how experience design is a core ingredient for businesses to succeed.

So tell us your story, show us what you need most to affect change. Post your pictures to Twitter or Flickr with #uxsears – you’ll have a chance to experience the same from your community when you join us on Wednesday Nov 18th, 6-8pm.

If you’re in Chicago, please consider stopping by to say hi. For more information send us a note.

RSVP at http://bit.ly/qQbJF
Directions to the building: http://bit.ly/73FT3

Hope to hear from you soon!

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