I was reading a National Retail Federation newsletter recently (www.nrf.com) that featured an article about a new retail concept store opening this month in the Boston area.
Pantry aims to bring the popular online meal-planning concept to the masses with the first of its kind brick and mortar store. Websites like Blue Apron, Plated and HelloFresh offer home delivery meal kits that come with pre-measured ingredients so there’s no waste plus instructions that guarantee an under thirty five minute prep time for a gourmet meal. These sites also aim to introduce new flavor profiles with their menu kits in an effort to broaden member’s palettes. You can customize your meal plan options and delivery is free.
But back to Pantry. What I find interesting is the continuing trend of successful online businesses that venture to brick and mortar locations. And it’s not just prescription eyeglasses like Warby Parker or beauty and skincare products like Birchbox. To me there seems to be a lot of competition when it comes to shopping for dinner items on your way home from work. And while the Pantry idea is certainly fresh and new, it’s goal to differentiate itself from the competition goes one step further when it comes to offering a fully featured customer service experience. Pantry plans to offer wine and beer recommendations for their specially crafted meals to go, in addition to kitchen tools and essentials. They also plan to offer local delivery and will feature guest recipes from well-known area chefs. Locally sourced ingredients will be used in the menus as well.
Anyway – after reading about this new store-to-car-to-table model, I couldn’t help but think about how these principles related to outdoor specialty retail and visual merchandising.
Essentially, we in the snow sports retail world are doing – or should be doing – the same thing as Pantry. And that is putting together the essential ingredients that will result in the perfectly prepared outdoor adventure for each of our customers. Every step, every measurement can be equated to analogies that read like a recipe – sort of. Components of a recipe are the same things as components to staying dry on a heavy, wet snow day, or matching the correct binding and ski for the best result and performance.
The same can be said for crafting window displays. You start with a list of “ingredients” that you add a dash of color here or a pinch of signage there so your end result is a harmonious combination of elements that would taste great if you could eat Gore-Tex and Primaloft.
What’s the message here? To truly eat with your eyes, you want to choose your ingredients wisely. Too much salt (too much signage = visual overload) or too little salt (too little signage = confusion) can throw your recipe way off. When you are working on a display it helps to work it out on paper and make lists – just like a recipe to guarantee a well thought out presentation – something you just can’t experience on a website. It’s also important to experiment. I have the same rotation of things I cook for dinner – rarely venturing outside of my comfort zone. However it’s essential to try new things. It’s scary, and you may fail, but at some point you have to take a risk and buy that expensive piece of fish or meat – or weird looking vegetable you have never worked with before and just go for it. Chances are someone will ask you for your winning recipe.