For 15 years, online retailer ShopNBC has been notably successful selling fine jewelry and brand name watches on cable and the Internet. So successful, in fact, that the Minneapolis-based retailer has opted to reverse the more standard e-commerce evolutionary cycle and unveil an actual store, the ShopNBC Fine Jewelry Outlet Store.
With a plan both to support the cyber core brand and to offload obsolete inventory, ShopNBC turned to Minneapolis-based Stein LLC for a 950-square-foot prototype at the Promenade, an expansion of the Albertville (Minn.) Premium Outlets Center.
The largely transparent exterior provides a clear view of an interior defined by frosted acrylic cases, satin silver wall surfaces and color-shifting light fixtures, all consistent with the contemporary look expected of an online business. However, the environmental component that does the heavy lifting is the shopping network itself - a simple but appropriate solution to integrating the online brand with the physical store.
The ShopNBC broadcast is piped live into the store via five 15-inch diagonal LCD flat screens mounted on perimeter walls eight feet above the floor. In this relatively small area, the LCD configuration provides a clear view of one or more panels from anywhere in the store, allowing familiar on-air personalities to serve as brand ambassadors to shoppers. In addition, a 46-inch SVA plasma screen dominates the space over the cashwrap.
“The cable shopping network is the ShopNBC brand’s primary and best-known touchpoint,” says design firm president Sanford Stein. “The flat monitors enforce the connection between that touchpoint and the new retail store touchpoint, so customer perception of ‘good quality at exceptional value’ is reinforced almost subliminally by the broadcast while they shop.”
The shopping channel is broadcast in the same real time, via the DirectTV satellite system, as it would be for any subscriber. Augmenting the broadcast programming is the ability to substitute promos or special programming, with PC and DVD input built into the store’s infrastructure. Audio in the store space is delivered by ElectroVoice and Bogen ceiling speakers, and the store manager is able to choose between direct audio from the network broadcast or ambient music. Aufderworld Corp. (Bloomington, Minn.) designed and installed the video and audio systems throughout the store.
Although the primary function of the online broadcast is to reinforce the brand message, shoppers are also able to access ShopNBC online from either of the two point-of-sale stations. This feature allows customers to view a wider range of product inventory and even place an order for home delivery. In addition, all customers are provided with cross-promotional marketing collateral at p-o-s to leverage follow-up visits to the web site.
Each watch case is equipped with a series of Color Kinetics iColor® Accent units, a direct view linear light source that simulates neon and is capable of shifting colors. In the ShopNBC installation, the lighting washes over frosted acrylic surfaces while scrolling through the color spectrum, a direct reference to the rainbow tail of the NBC peacock. Contemplating the iconic nature of the venerable NBC logo and the ongoing evolution of both retailing and media, it is clearly possible for old peacocks to learn new tricks.
Photos by Don Wong Photo Inc., Bloomington, Minn.