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The 25 Steps Of Holiday Shopping

Ah, holiday shopping. It conjures up images of children sitting on Santa’s lap and couples snuggling up as they longingly gaze through storefront windows, all while pristine white snow softly falls around them.

But not at my local Best Buy, not this year. This year they prepared for big crowds and large volumes, nothing nostalgic or quaint about it.

It’s always interesting to see how retailers deal with the holiday rush. Imagine rows and rows of aisles jutting out toward the front of the store, all fitted with elaborate end-cap displays facing you as you enter, the length of each aisle jammed with expensive, shelf-top displays with custom-made product demos and of course, lots and lots of product.

What I found surprising was the amount of free-standing, point-of-purchase (POP) displays there were on the retail floor. [See my pictorial, here.] I mean there was a sea of them, and many were fairly elaborate in their design and structure. Not surprisingly, manufacturers have invested heavily in this year’s holiday season. POP like this is very expensive and most of the displays were made from cardboard, so after the holiday season they can be discarded or recycled.

It’s as if they built a mini-Best Buy in the front section of a larger Best Buy that contains all the holiday tech gift choices you’d ever need or better yet, crave. Clearly merchandised in brand-specific displays, it made it very easy to find the stuff you’re looking for, and in most cases more. It’s as if they used the Pareto Principle for retail, moving the 20 percent of products that made 80 percent of their profit to the front of the store. Rather brilliant, actually.

I counted my steps from the front door to the back of this new area and it was approximately 25 steps (75 feet) and about 75 feet wide. In this area they had merchandised every heavy mover so the customer didn’t have to go too deep into the store in order to find what they wanted and get out.

What was great about this merchandising shift was that I felt excited again to be in a Best Buy. I frequent the local electronics stores so often in my work life that I feel almost like an employee and I never buy anything. Well, the other day this new setup worked on me because I actually bought something. Not sure what made me do it – maybe the close knit of the aisles, the sheer amount of displays or the concentration of really interesting product – but I bought a Nest smoke detector and I don’t even need one.

The store created in me a sense of crave that Best Buy promised a long time ago, and I went home happy.

Jamie Capozzi is the founder and creative director of Theory Associates, a strategic branding agency that creates crave for some of the world’s leading technology brands.  He can be reached at (415) 904-0995.