Monday, January 27, 2014

My Store Visit @ Parkson, Kuala Lumpur (Part One)

I was on a business trip in Kuala Lumpur about two weeks ago. Part of my agenda was to make a store visit to Parkson. I have brought my self-made store survey sheet with me and narrowed down to two Parkson outlets for sampling – The Pavilion at Jalan Bukit Bintang and Suria KLCC. It made perfect sense since one was centrally located and the other a popular shopping street. I would use Parkson, The Pavilion, Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur.

Considering the festive season during this month, I was expecting a sizeable dose of crowd in the department store, buzzing in-store promotions, aggressive promotion and enthusiastic staff. My brief analysis is found below.

Part one:

External Layout and Location, Store Appeal @ Entrance, Atmospherics, Displays, Lighting, Fixtures and Fittings

Part two:

In-store Marketing and Branding, Service Staff, Merchandise Mix and Final Conclusion

Please note that I am not a store expert. I used my intuition and observation, taking the perspective of a regular mid-class shopper who liked fashion trends. Therefore, it’s purely a humble opinion. I can’t also possibly show all pictures, just published a few for explanation.

External Layout and Location

At The Pavilion, Jalan Bukit Bintang, the store was visible, location prominent and easily accessible in the shopping mall. To find Parkson was not difficult as the signage stood out clearly. On the 2nd level, Pedro, Charles & Keith were situated just beside Parkson. I pranced around Charles & Keith to observe the traffic flow. Several shoppers were trying the shoes or walking in and out to browse the latest designs. It could be imaginable that they would drop by Parkson to shop due to the direction of footfall out from both stores. Especially when there were Chinese New Year decorations, flowers and lanterns hanging at the entrance of Parkson. Unfortunately, few people took the steps to venture towards Parkson.

Store Appeal @ The Entrance

In my opinion, it was enticing to take a step forward into Parkson. Parkson arranged a set of flower combination to grab shoppers’ attention. There was calligraphy at the entrance, asking people to write their surnames, nicknames or funny names for a fee.

That said, I did not have a magical feeling upon entering Parkson. No aisle promotion, no Chinese New Year offers, no special merchandise counters, neither any fast-moving item that shoppers could buy on impulse. For example, small perfume bottles wrapped up or “buy as you go” food & drink hampers. Actually, more awareness and interest could be created if Parkson displayed their catalogue at the store entrance or get a group of Promoters, at certain timing, to distribute them out. Increase the vibe smartly, get the crowd trickling in.

Sadly, I realized about the hamper offers and in-store discounts when I dropped by at the customer service booth. Imagine if I did not….so, it seemed that I was getting into a typical department store which did not raise the marketing hype.

Isn’t it Chinese New Year mood now?

There was no unique store appeal that differentiated Parkson against the rest of the retail outlets. If I were to do a direct comparison to Isetan, it’s slightly different. Isetan had a Chinese New Year promotional standee, indicating that you would get something upon purchase. One would not miss before entering the store. This might incite any individual or family to explore Isetan further.

Store Navigation, Flooring, Fixtures, Displays and Atmospherics

Parkson has clearly-defined perimeters that helped shoppers move around at ease. It’s also easy to find your choice of apparel and cosmetics in well-arranged selection of goods. Cosmetics and perfumes were found in the first level followed by women’s apparel at the next level and men’s clothing next. The flooring were polished and shiny, clean and sparkling at the cosmetics and fragrances level (after all, who does not wish to look good!). The sales counters were brightly lit while brands were large enough to be spotted from afar (e.g. Laneige, Estee Lauder). Spotlights strategically placed to make the merchandise appeal to the eyes. Fixtures appropriately installed to showcase the perfumes and cosmetics on displays. It’s about the scene, feel and sight. This explained why cosmetics and toiletries make up the second bulk revenue contributor of Parkson concessionaire sales.

At the apparel level, lights started to dim and the tiles became dull but non-slippery. At the outlook, this section looked like a normal department store. Apparel stood out as per normal with mannequins decked out. There was a lack of attractive color combination used in lightings, tiles and fixtures - for any individual counters and in-store layout. Moreover, design of the furnishings and fittings were standardized, nothing extraordinary. Should your goods be marketed to the young, a good dose of trendiness would provide an experience and positive impression to them.

Yes, the keyword here is “Shopper’s Experience”. It’s powerful to get your wallet out. Certainly, I was not enticed from my walkabout, as you can see from the image above.

Allow me to provide an example to talk about “Experience”. In the new Robinson department store at Heeren Orchard, Singapore, the perfume counter attracted several shoppers to browse around due to the open concept, quirky furnishings and bright lights. Perfume Promoters were able to interact freely and re-enforce their product offers while shoppers took the time to move from side-to-side, admiring the packaging and new product development of each brand. Every detail of the atmospherics cumulated into a fun and engaging feel and your first thoughts might think “oh people, look at how the cabinet display is!”

Remember the five senses?

A picture of Robinson perfume section below:

In short, he overall atmospherics in Parkson did not manage to capture any particular essence that might exemplify the perception of the brand. The in-store graphics and signage were not attractive. The music backdrop played the repetitive Chinese New Year songs which could be a little irritating to the ears. Not that I dislike, I loved them completely. Just that, a mix of classical music or whatsoever and Chinese New Year pieces must blend in subtly into the store environment, giving shoppers the surreal feel – such that they would return back again for the EXPERIENCE.

I would continue my second part of my store visit commentary soon. To be continued…

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