This Picture sums up the shopping experience I had at Best Buy when looking for wearable fitness technology---empty shelves and no help.
Fast forward about a year, and I decided to dip my toes back in the market. I went to the wearable technology aisle at Best Buy and was greeted with a number of really nice point-of-purchase displays from the various manufacturers. Clearly, a lot of money had gone it the displays and they were helpful to the consumer in explaining the step ups between models.
Polar broke their product line into "activity", "performance" and "fitness". The features are a bit more cumbersome to go through and their product line was smaller. This is a well established brand (I remember the old strap on heart rate monitors that were incredibly uncomfortable.)
Next came Garmin. Not well known in the wearable technology market but certainly in navigation. They had a surprising number of product but it was difficult to see the difference between them. Some were band style some were watch style.
Pebble is really in the Smartwatch category but I knew several people who owned them and loved them. The display was relatively helpful. It was a bit more money that I wanted to spend at this time.
There was also a Samsung Smartwatch with even less information.
Just to add to the confusion was Basis Peak, Hazer Nabu X, Fusion and for some reason breathometer, which measures alcohol consumption, was thrown into the mix.
So with all of these options to choose from I had to narrow it down. I decided to go with the three brands I knew most about Jawbone UP, Fitbit and Polar. I finally glanced down to see how much merchandise was even on the shelf.
The selection for Jawbone Up was meager to say the least.
Fitbit was well stocked so that pretty much narrowed my choice down to Fitbit. Of course, each product was in this handy theft/customer deterrent plastic case. I had already spent so much time there, I just wanted to buy it and get out. I pretty much had to look at each package because nothing was organized on the shelf
I got home and started to critique the package (like I always do with any purchase I make.) It had this useful sizing guide on the side of the package that I didn't even notice while in store because of the plastic case:
Then I check the front of the box. UGGGGH. I had purchased a size large.
Back to the store I went hoping they would even have a small. At this point I had spent a better part of 1 1/2 hours to make the purchase. I was more than frustrated. The exchange was simple so Best Buy gets points for that but not much else.
So that is all leading up to my 4 ways Best Buy could have improved my in-store shopping experience:
- I know Best Buy doesn't want to stock their shelves with a lot of merchandise, especially merchandise that is expensive and comes in a small box that can easily be stolen. If you must use the plastic boxes, then carry fewer brands so that enough stock is there for customers to get the correct product.
- If the first suggestion isn't an option, stock mock boxes that that manufacturer provides. This way, the customer will be able to get to all of the useful information on the package as they drill down to their final selection, such as color and size. Have the boxes well merchandised. Once a customer brings the box to purchase, get the actual product and return the mock box to the shelf.
- If the mock boxes take up too much room, I have seen Best Buy use cards that the customer brings to the register. Have the card contain the exact same information the manufacturer has on the package. But don't have the cards look generic have them branded by manufacturer so they are easier to find. Also, have the content designed by branded by manufacturer as well.
- Finally, how about a little help from a Best Buy employee. I was there at noon during the week. There were more employees than customers. I was in the aisle for over 1/2 hour and not one sales person approached me. My luck with finding knowledgeable staff hasn't been great in the past but maybe someone could have told me if they had other product available.
Patty Jensen is Vice President of Account Services at JDA Inc, a graphic design firm that specializes in supporting companies' branding and retail efforts with a Unified Marketing approach. To learn more, click here.