redesign | retail: Target’s new in-store tablets miss the bullseye

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Target has a history of trying to keep their stores fresh, with user experiences and industrial design that is cohesive and friendly. They don’t always succeed, but the latest changes have been interesting, as Target upgrades their in-store price check experience. It’s important to focus on delivering the features people need, and not more.

One area where Target is trying to improve the user experience is the price check scanners that are placed around the stores, usually at the end of aisles, next to a red phone.

Target is no stranger to technology. They use iPod touch in custom cases with barcode scanners built in to manage inventory and print tags for the shelf with a wirelessly paired printer.

iPod touch with scanner
iPod touch with scanner
Wireless label printer
Wireless label printer

Continue reading “redesign | retail: Target’s new in-store tablets miss the bullseye”

redesignAnswer: If you’re selling birthday candles, put matches or a lighter nearby

photo (10)


This is another question that got a variety of interesting answers.

What I was going for is to put matches or lighters near the candles. If you’re rushing to get party supplies, you want the toothpicks that say “Happy Bday,” candles, balloons … and something to light the candles with. There isn’t even a note that says where the matches are. I had to find someone to tell me they were all the way on the other side of the store.

Other comments from the survey:

  • The items are pushed back. They should be close to the front of the peg.
  • There is no alignment among the different items.
  • Candles are on two pegs. But the top peg is clearly intended for something else. At $1.57 vs. $2.79, people would be upset.
  • Green is an ugly color for a background.

Although the focus of the question was on the retail display, I’d also fix the packaging/bundling.

For the candles, I’d include a few matches. Maybe use the back of the card for a striker.

The sparklers (the black things) look ridiculous and boring. From a distance, you have no idea what they are. I’d have a background with sparkles on it.

Our Victor Marks writes:

Use planogram software that reflects the actual size of items on the peg. The black item is taller and throws the whole display off. Also, don’t put pegs up so high that they ruin your header decoration (party)


redesignAnswer: There’s no reason for Walgreens to put gift cards behind the counter

From Skitch


There is a lot wrong with this display. But the biggest thing is that there’s no reason to put all of those gift cards behind the counter.

Gift cards are worth nothing until they are activated. There’s no reason to put them in a “secure” area. Many of these are impulse purchases. They should be placed somewhere prominent (endcaps are the most frequent placement) so people can browse them and find just the right gift card for the person they are buying for. Cigarettes and other high value items should be behind the counter; not things that have no inherent value.

Other things that are wrong with this display:

  • It looks like a cluttered mess.
  • There’s no discernible organization to the gift cards.
  • From a visual perspective, having the ToysRUs gift card hanging off on an acrylic shelf is ugly.
  • There’s a sign saying that gift cards are cash only. Walgreens POS is programmed to let store gift cards be sold by credit card.

This is among the worst Walgreens that I’ve been to. The overall merchandising at this store is poor.

Most are much nicer. Walgreens also does a great job at picking the right merchandise for each location — much better than most retailers.

redesignAnswer: The tab is broken because I waited 15 minutes for “service” and gave up

Cable with tag torn


The tab on this cable is broken because it was locked to the peg. There was a customer service button to press; I pressed it. A store clerk walked by but didn’t have the key; I asked her to find someone who did. 15 minutes later, I gave up and ripped off the tab. (I did pay for the merchandise.)

But most consumers wouldn’t wait more than 2 minutes. So this “security” measure deters sales.

It also doesn’t deter theft! If someone wants to steal it, they can just do what I did. Another alternative is to pull the peg entirely out of the peg board and remove it from the back.

So you’ve made it hard for legitimate customers to buy the product while only adding a speed bump for thieves.

This is also a case where the maxim about letting your data make your decisions falls flat. Such analysis ignores what you can’t measure. In this case, it is lost sales. You can measure theft — number of units put on display minus number sold. Measuring opportunity cost — the units you didn’t sell because people didn’t want to wait — is harder. (Though it can be done.)

Opportunity cost in this case is especially high because this a high margin product. Every lost sale hurts more than every theft.

Of course, Walgreen’s could improve service levels so that someone would actually come and unlock the product. But that requires more staffing.

Another answer, which Sam came up with, is that the item was on a peg with assorted merchandise. Rather than slide everything out to get to the one she wanted in back and then slide everything back on, she’d just rip the tab for the one she wanted.