New York Store Tours with Paco Underhill

Two weeks ago, while we were at NRF 2014 in New York City, we partnered with global retail consultancy Envirosell and its founder Paco Underhill (author of Why We Buy”) to host a number of NYC Store Tours.

Envirosell and Paco specialize in consumer behavior, and store layout and design. Paco took participants on a tour -- which Envirosell calls a Store Clinic” -- of notable stores in lower Manhattan, including the Verizon flagship store, the Nike Running Flatiron store, Victoria’s Secret, Citibank, Sephora, Paragon Sports and Country Floors (a boutique tile store). Paco and Envirosell work with each of these retailers in a variety of ways. Below are a number of highlights from the tour.

You can also view our full gallery of the tour on Flickr (as well as a gallery of our NRF 2014 booth).

Paco Underhill with group on the sidewalk

Entering the store:

  • Think about how customers walk by your store: Perpendicular signage is best.”

Each store featured a carefully planned information architecture” throughout.

Inside the store:

  • Be conscious about the height of products in your store.”
  • All the stores on the tour have carefully planned information architecture”: There is a strategy to which products and sections are placed where along the customer journey through the store.
  • About the lifestyle section in the Verizon store: Products are categorized by lifestyle solutions (Home and On the Go, Get Fit, Find Your Rhythm, etc.). This way, you can present your products to the consumer as a story and how various products work together. Show an entire ecosystem of products and how they enhance the experience around your wireless device. From a retailer perspective, you can showcase and sell items you traditionally wouldn’t sell in a wireless store, like fitness accessories for example.”
  • Unlabeled fragrance station around an iPad at Sephora: This display allows you to smell a sample fragrance and then tap on the tablet to get more information about each one (see photo below).
  • Skin iQ’ display at Sephora: There is a special scanner that scans a consumer’s skin to find complementary products for that exact skin tone.

The concierge at Sephora will never ask, How can I help you?’ They are trained to watch for body language indicating a need for assistance.

Staff tips:

  • Two hands free concept: Mobile POS is great, but leaves retail staff with only one hand free. Make sure a mobile POS device is flexible, like a smartphone staff can put in their pocket, or a handheld that can easily be put down to demo other products or devices.”

By educating consumers on options, there is an opportunity to upsell.

  • Concierge at Sephora: They may say hello, but they will never ask, How can I help you?’ right away. They want consumers to come in and start looking and then they are trained to look for body language and signs that would indicate they might want additional assistance, at which point a beauty expert walks over to help the consumer.

    It’s all about providing a safe zone for consumers, no confrontation, a come in and explore’ browsing experience as opposed to what can we sell you?’

    Consumers don’t come to Sephora to buy makeup, they come for the expertise Sephora staff can provide. It’s all about beauty education (Sephora staff go through rigorous training before they hit the sales floor), very consultative and hands-on (they will sit you down and test the exact color of foundation you should buy before you buy it).

    Educate to sell: By educating consumers on options, there is more of an opportunity to sell more.”

The most important part of future retail: back-end integration with supply channels.

About retail in general:

  • The most important part of retail going forward: back-end integration with supply channels. The biggest problem with American retail is too many stores are overstored’ (too much stock tucked away in storage) and underserved’ (too few quality staff on hand).”