Disney CEO: Give Shoppers an Entertaining, Interactive Experience

Dec 01, 2010 — Allan Pulga

Disney is putting a high-tech, interactive spin on its retail stores, using mobile checkouts and massive animated screens to catch consumers’ attention.

“Disney isn’t trying to sell stuffed animals to the 365,000 daily passersby,” wrote Julia Boorstin of CNBC.com (Nov. 9). “It’s trying to promote the Mouse House’s other businesses as well – from the theme parks to the musicals like Lion King, which is playing right next door (to its Times Square location).”

But why connect entertainment with the retail experience? Disney CEO Bob Iger told Boorstin it’s all about the interactivity and a focus on the company’s most popular characters: classic faces like Mickey Mouse and Goofy, paired with strong contemporary brands like Cars, Princesses and the recently acquired Marvel line of superheroes.

“And based on the results at the 18 stores they’ve opened so far, the investment in re-vamping the stores is worth it,” Boorstin wrote. “How much does it cost? About $750,000 to $1 million per remodeled store. Disney has about 340 stores and will decide how many to remodel depending on the success of the new look.”

Keys to Disney’s Apple-like Take on Interactive Retail (Julia Boorstin, CNBC.com):

  • It worked for Apple: “Disney is taking inspiration from its board member Steve Jobs, whose Apple stores have thrived despite the downturn in consumer spending. (The company) is building on the Apple model: retail as immersive shrine to the brand.”
  • Entertainment-focused: “At the heart of the new stores will be an interactive theater where kids will be able to pick between hundreds of video options and interact with Disney talent via satellite.”
  • Make it a destination for kids: “The goal is to build a destination kids will beg their parents to visit, and where they’ll spend so much time, parents won’t mind shelling out some serious dough.”
  • A non-Apple angle – exclusive items: “While Apple products are available anywhere – from Best Buy to Wal-Mart – Disney plans to make 90 percent of the product in its new stores entirely exclusive. So other than say, DVDs, you’re looking at a whole array of new unique products.”

What This Means for Wireless Retailers:

Just this past summer, Apple stores received the highest ranking in cellphone buying experience (see Buying Experience), according to a Consumer Reports survey of nearly 11,000 online subscribers. Apple stores got top marks for checkout, activation and service, but got a low rating in terms of pricing.

These results point to two facts:

  • Apple has knowledgeable staff and good customer service, but: Its store design and atmosphere are what set it apart.
  • People will pay more for a good buying experience.

"(Apple stores) encourage lingering, with dozens of fully functioning computers, iPods and iPhones for visitors to try – for hours on end," wrote Katie Hafner of the New York Times (Dec. 27, 2007). She described how some Apple Stores take an almost Internet café approach to letting customers use devices such as laptops, for free. Patrons have been known to stay as long as they please, or even bring food into the store.?

"Whenever we ask consumers to cite a great retail experience, the Apple store is the first store they mention," said Jane Buckingham, president of the Intelligence Group, an L.A.-based market research firm. "Basically, everything about it works. The people who work there are cool and knowledgeable. They have the answers you want, and can sell you what you need. Customers appreciate that. Even the fact that they'll e-mail you a receipt makes you feel like you're in a store just a little bit further ahead of everyone else."

**XQ, iQmetrix’s new line of Interactive Retail products, brings the process of buying a phone to life in the hands of the consumer. With Microsoft Surface displays, customer facing screens, touch screens and interactive product displays, wireless retailers can draw shoppers in and provide a superior in-store experience they’ll be sure to talk about with family and friends.

To learn more about XQ Interactive Retail, visit www.iQmetrix.com/products/xq, call 1-866-476-3874 or e-mail XQ@iQmetrix.com.

Topics: Retail Operations, Wireless Trends, Mobile Industry, Customer Experience

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