How Improving "Discoverability"
Could Make Bed Bath & Beyond
a Retail Superhero
by Tammy Sachs, CEO & Founder
Bed Bath & Beyond has so many items that are impossible to find anywhere – most of which you want to see and touch before buying – like towels. They also have SO MUCH stuff under one roof, you’re lulled into believing that in one shop, you can get every item you need. After holiday sales began, I made a list of ten items and put that belief to the test.
For just ten items, it took four lovely sales people nearly two hours to help me find everything I was looking for. In addition, the sale could have been much larger if the staff could find where items had been moved or had access a tablet to show other options only available online.
Having broken my old Vitamix, I asked a sales person what blender to buy. “Definitely the KitchenAid. She said. “It comes in gorgeous colors though I’d have to take you the site to show you. We only have silver and red in stock.” Finding a salad spinner in the Kitchen Basics section took over 20 minutes. The little funnel to pour wine into a carafe took two of us another 20. The hair blower diffuser, another ten. After wandering around the food area (which has amazing items hard to find anywhere) I gave up as it had no logic. The combination of size, height, lack of signage and any kind of “departments” creates an experience that is exhausting. The very helpful staff (who no one would let go of as they had to get through their own list) spent most of their time answering: “Where are the rest rooms? Check-out? Returns? Why are sheets in four different places?” Oftentimes, staff doesn’t even know the answer!
I’m the kind of shopper who grabs the thing I love and leaves immediately. No comparisons. Yet, even I started getting anxious that the perfect “x” was hidden in some department I missed. Maybe the brand is aiming the “Beyond” at people that like to get lost in discovery mode and serendipitously spend 5x more money than intended. That’s great in a curated store like Anthropologie or William Sonoma. However, it is REALLY BEYOND me who their personas are and how much extra money they are spending on staff to be human GPS’s rather than product experts.
Imagine what digital signage, beacons, hand held tablets with integrated channel inventory, scanners and quick pay options could do to put magic into “Beyond?” This store has such super power potential to surprise, delight, empower and multiply sales and revenue.
What do the rest of you folks? How do you think curation and wayfinding would impact BBB and other retailers?