October 30, 2018
When testing out a new retail concept, brands often set up – or more accurately, pop up – on the coasts. But when it comes to getting a pulse on how the average American shops, there’s no better place than the Mall of America.
That’s why this holiday season, Good Housekeeping is bringing its media endorsement – and widely recognized GH seal – to its very own pop up shop to the famed megamall. But unlike the rest of the 500+ retailers in the mall, the GH lab is powered by Amazon.
Here’s how it works: the GH Lab looks and feels like a house, with different “rooms” showcasing everything from shampoo to refrigerators. And when you’re ready to buy, no need to track down a sales person, bring the item to the register, wait in line, check out, then lug the item to your house yourself. Shoppers simply take out their smart phones, use their existing Amazon app to take a picture of the smart code to complete the purchase on their own phone. No lines. No hauling. Amazon will deliver the item right to your door on the same delivery schedule shoppers have come to expect when ordering online.
When talking to a salesperson at the GH Lab, it sounds like most shoppers understand the concept right away. “Virtually everyone has the Amazon app, so we don’t have to sell them on downloading another app,” he explained. The only exception? Boomers who still have flip phones. There isn’t a low-tech option for these shoppers to engage; they would need to make a list of the products they like and purchase the items online later.
As if the Amazon fulfillment isn’t enough, there are quite a few other things that make the GH Lab different than any other store. Most notably, the store only carries one item per category. So instead of seeing a wall of smart TVs, the GH Lab only offers one. The best one, according to the Good Housekeeping Institute. And while some people enjoy the shopping experience – judging and evaluating different brands based on different tech specs to find the best TV at the best price – here Good Housekeeping has done all the work for you. If you want a smart TV, buy this one. If you want a new blender, buy this one. It’s the kind of authority that only works when you have a 100-year history of testing and recommending products.
That’s why this store doesn’t even have to look like a store. There aren’t shelves stocked with dozens of brands, each with dozens of products. Shoppers can visualize how the products would look in a house. Packaging on big items is less important, because shoppers see it already unboxed, sitting on the floor or displayed on a counter. Displays look completely different – which means merchandising teams can have more freedom to create compelling displays.
Which brings us to yet another stark difference between this new retail experience and every other store: the staff. It requires a completely different approach to hiring and staffing. Now you don’t need a backroom team to handle receiving or inventory. Floor teams aren’t replenishing shelves because no one is leaving the store with any product. There are no check outs, check-out lines or bagging. The only thing staff has to do is talk to customers. And not even offer advice on which toaster is best, because Good Housekeeping has already done that.
For salespeople, it boils down to establishing trust with shoppers that Good Housekeeping will offer the best products, and Amazon will deliver them at the best price. Both are pretty easy sells if you ask me.
If this goes well, it’s fun to imagine what might be next. Retailers completely decoupling the showroom shopping experience from their stockrooms? Pop up shops where influencers can monetize their favorite products, just for recommending them during a meet and greet? Or kids exploring a giant toy store during the holidays, scanning barcodes and making digital wish lists that can immediately be sent to grandma – and then she’s only one click away from ordering exactly what they want?
The GH Lab is open now through December 30. My prediction: consumers will find Good Housekeeping to be good for housekeeping and once again Amazon will dominate the season.