Filson // In-Store Experience

Retail stores are typically just retail stores.

You walk in. Someone gives you a half-assed ‘Welcome’. You poke around. You might buy some shit. Then you leave.

Unless you’re at the Filson flagship store in Seattle, WA.

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Because if you go to Filson, you might encounter a local BBQ joint posting up outside handing out free sliders, jerky and roasted nuts.

Or you might then walk in to get greeted by a guy who looks like Grizzly Adams who gives you a genuine WELCOME! – letting you know all the fun shit they have going on today.

Then before you even make it to the second floor, you might get intercepted by a hot dog stand. Yes, a hot dog stand. From Dante’s Inferno Dogs. BOOM.

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And if you’re able to make it past the massive giveaway they’re doing with a canoe full of Dad’s favorite products (see below), you might see the setups they have for a local knife-making company or even everyone’s favorite local Molly Moon’s ice cream (also below).

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THEN, and not until then, you may start actually browsing around and buying some really high-end, well-made outdoorsy gear. Regardless of whether it’s 100x out of your budget.

So, why does this matter? What does a hot dog stand have to do with buying high-end outdoors gear?

It’s so simple. It’s about creating a positive experience so you’re happy when you’re in there. Because if you’re happy, you’re more likely to think happily about Filson and buy something (whether that day or in the future).

Filson brings in vendors and has nice employees and a beautiful store where the history of the brand is woven throughout and books all about the outdoors scattered throughout the store to get you in the mindset – whether that’s the outdoors mindset or the positive vibes mindset.

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When I get a free pulled pork slider out front, I’m already feeling grateful. I was pleasantly surprised about the free stuff I was getting (slider, hot dog, ice cream) and thus felt like I’d ‘saved’ money already. Then when I feel positive and inspired by the things around me, I’m more likely to do something ‘for myself’, like buy a product if I see it.

Let’s say Filson had 1,000 people walk through their store that day (there were at least 50 in the store when I was in there on Saturday). Let’s say they spent $400 to get the BBQ company to come by (great exposure for them too – everybody wins) and they served up 250 sliders that day ($1.60 per slider). Let’s say they spent $200 to get Dante’s to come and served up 150 hot dogs ($1.30 per dog – also great exposure for Dante’s. Hell, I never would have known them, nonetheless blog about them). Then they paid $300 to get Molly Moon’s to come and served up 150 root beer floats ($1.50 per float). And let’s say the average person spent $10 in the store, meaning the vast majority of people don’t buy something but when they do, the product is expensive and the margins are large. So if 1,000 people spend $10 each, that means revenue on the day would’ve been $10,000. And let’s assume 75% margin on their products, so profit would’ve been $7,500 on the day. Less the $900 assumed spent on vendor presence (now at $6,600) then paying employees and other operating expenses, it’s possible they only netted a few grand on the day.

But the marketing exposure (of having a high-trafficked storefront), positive long-term consumer relationships they built (new relationships like me or reinforcing existing ones) and cold hard cash they earned at one retail location means that Filson’s mindset is on long-term value with consumers. And having a kickass in-store experience on a Saturday in Seattle for 1,000 people is a critical way of getting there.

Any brand could take after Filson. Have a great, well-designed in-store experience supplemented by things that make the customer feel valued so they’re happy, inspired and grateful – and they’re way more likely to spend their money with you. Or talk about the brand and store to their friends.

Or blog about it, like this.

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It’s the little things.

No idea if this was intentional, but if it was, it’s simple … and brilliant.

Walked out of Union Square subway station today and into Food Emporium to get groceries, like the domestic boyfriend that I am.

And first thing I noticed is the ‘Grab n Go’ station. PLEASE tell me whomever designed this store did this on purpose.

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People commuting at the beginning and end of the day who want something quick to grab and go to / from the office. It makes total sense.

So why do I give a shit about this? If it was intentional, it’s someone thinking like the consumer.

Most supermarkets have some stupid fruit aisle or long walkway up towards cash registers when you walk in. Antithetical to your shopping needs.

Instead, right outside a subway, whomever planned this put the commuting consumer needs FIRST and made this the first thing you hit when you walk in that entrance.

And that says a lot about a brand.

Whether you’re a grocery store, Under Armor or restaurant, tailoring your retail to what most benefits the consumer (rather than manipulates them) is f-ing awesome. Good for business because it’s good for the consumer.

You go, Glenn Coco.

The new bar for brick and mortar.

So about a month ago I did a post called ‘Nike Stores Aren’t Stores‘.

And if that was a hint, today was a dead giveaway about where the future of retail is heading, especially when it comes to brick-and-mortar.

I kicked off a snow NYC Saturday with a trip to American Eagle’s new prototype stores – AE Studio. Holy shit am I glad I did.

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American Eagle, the once struggling teen-centered clothing brand – somewhere wedged between American Apparel on the low side and J. Crew on the high side – rolled out AE Studio in Union Square to test out a new shopping experience.

Before you even walk in, there’s an AE Studio truck outside giving away free hot chocolate to anyone (literally ANYONE). Then you walk into a colorful, electric vibe with the first room lined with hundreds of jeans and iPads, digitally demonstrating the fit of each pant.

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There are loads of patches that you can get sewn onto your jeans while you’re in store, helping hype up this notion of personalization that AE is really trying to drive home. It helps the customer feel like they’re getting something truly unique. And because it’s done right then and there, it’s an EXPERIENCE.

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Move further and you’ll see a laundry room. Yes, a FUCKING LAUNDRY ROOM. Why? Because NYU dorms are literally next door and they want young college kids (totally their demo) to come do laundry for free, chill and potentially buy some shit. Or ‘gram from inside so their friends can see.

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Want more chill? You go upstairs and there’s a lounge. Yes, a lounge. Outlets, chargers, bottled water, free WiFi, music, etc. All to not only entice people to come into the store in high-foot-traffic Union Square, but to then STAY AND HANG OUT. All of this is free, regardless of whether you buy something or not.

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So. Why does this make any sense? Why bother doing all this stuff for free for consumers? Who really gives a shit and wants to hang out in an American Eagle?

Well first, the place was crowded. Far more crowded than I’ve ever seen an American Eagle before. And it sucks people in with perks like hot chocolate, free laundry, WiFi, outlets and bottled water. And the thought it was once you walk into the store, the product is cool enough and prices are low enough that you just may make a spontaneous purchase.

And if you don’t? It’s still a win, because people like me now think American Eagle is infinitely cooler than it was before I walked in, which means I’m more likely to consider them going forward or even to promote it (like in this fucking blog post).

SO GOOD ON YOU AMERICAN EAGLE. You absolutely nailed this. I really hope this proves to be a slam dunk for the business and that you roll out more of these going forward, because this is the future of retail, especially for brick and mortar. And in high traffic areas.

Good on ya, mate.