Inspiration for improving the way you do business doesn’t always have to come from within the imprinted sportswear industry. I’ve talked a lot about “finding a niche”, and last week I ran across an example of niche retailing at its finest–the special niche of outfitting your kid’s college dorm room through a registry service that offers pick up at a location near your child’s campus. If you just sent a child away to college you may already be aware of this service. Actually I just sent my seventh and youngest child off to college last weekend, but this is the first time I had heard of or used such a registry. Both my wife Mary and I were blown away by this practical and very helpful service offered by the retail chain known here in the U.S. as Bed Bath & Beyond. If you aren’t familiar with them, they sell a wide assortment of merchandise including domestic merchandise and home furnishings as well as food, giftware, health and beauty care items and infant and toddler merchandise. According to the company website, they have over 1,000 stores worldwide that range in size from 20,000 to 50,000 square feet, with some stores exceeding 80,000 square feet. That’s a lot of store. And a lot of stuff. So what did they do to make our “off to college” shopping experience so appealing?
It starts with a call or visit to your local Bed Bath and Beyond. Or you can sign up online. Not only did they have a computer database of what is allowed or not allowed in certain dorm rooms (such as coffee makers or extension cords), they also told us exactly what size sheets we would need for a particular dorm on a particular campus. Talk about detail. Just click on “Find My College” or get a checklist of what you need. Once you have your list in hand, you are given a “magic wand” that allows you to scan the barcodes of items you wish to purchase. They have really researched this niche and seem to own it. The best part? Since my daughter’s college is in another state, we were able to shop for what she needed at a local store and then pick it up at the location near her school. We didn’t have to pack it in the car, ship it or worry about shipping it. We just drove up to the store, they brought our items out to us and told us to look through them. If we had changed our minds about something we could just leave it there. That was it. I don’t think the experience could have been made simpler or more convenient. This was truly an extraordinary shopping experience. What are you doing to make shopping or purchasing from your business extraordinary? This was an excellent example of recognizing a need and finding an extraordinary way to meet that need.