GMA’s Secrets of America’s Favorite Stores

gmayourmoneyGood Morning America, a “breakfast show” appearing on the ABC network, has an interesting feature which lives a dual life — on television and online.  The segment is titled “Secrets of America’s Favorite Stores.”  In five minutes, you are given a peek at  what makes the retailers they’ve selected successful.  Two recent stories talked about Costco and The Container Store.

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For Costco, the membership warehouse, the first secret is “right there in the store’s name. Costco is able to maintain lower prices than other grocery stores by keeping their costs down.”

“We keep our facilities very bare bones,” said Jeffrey Long, Costco’s senior vice president and general manager for the northeast region. “You look around you see a concrete floor, you see a regular girder ceiling, you don’t see signs on every aisle telling everybody where the products are.”

As for secret number two… its about letting customers get lost.

“We kind of coined the term ‘treasure hunt‘ years and years ago,” Long said, “This is a treasure hunt, it’s what it is, you know. We want people to come in, but we want them to spend some time wandering around our facility.”

Other notables about Costco include that the store only offers about 4,000 unique products for sale at any one time. The amount is merely 10% of a typical supermarket, and a drop in the bucket compared to a Wal-Mart store (with about 125,000 products).

The real eye opener was the fact that Costco is the largest wine retailer in the world with more than 200 varieties.

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Another segment they did was on The Container Store –a retail store offering an exceptional and eclectic mix of storage and organization products for helping people simplify their lives.

“You just have to have great people that love what they’re doing and are really well trained. And somebody that says ‘Can I help you’ spurs kind of a subconscious response from the customer that ‘No thanks, I’m just looking’…so we try to have true engagement,” Kip Tindell, the CEO of the Container Store, said.

Tindell said he has tried to create a so-called “yummy” corporate culture, which he hopes customers notice immediately.

“We call it ‘air of excitement.’ If you walk into a…retail store and everybody there is excited to be there, you can kind of sense that three steps in the door,” Tindell said.
In spite of the recession, the store is starting to grow in urban markets such as New York and San Francisco as well as looking to expand to London or Tokyo, Tindell said.

People tend to nest during chaotic times, Tindell said, and Container Store sales have actually picked up for certain areas of the home.

“You know, you can’t control the world but at least you can control your closet or your pantry or your home,” Tindell said.

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What’s really nice about these pieces are:

  1. Short (5 minutes) and well produced — covering a lot of ground
  2. The video clip was really smooth. As good as watching the segment on TV.
  3. The complete exchange is captured in text form– appearing in a written story online.
  4. You have multiple viewing options — view on TV or online for the first time.
  5. Ample options for sharing (via Facebook, Twitter, etc.)

Only drawback is the forced 30 sec ad at the beginning. I’d feel better if they said, this segment is sponsored by Charles Schwab or Pepsi and then had an engaging 30 sec clip after that somehow connected to the piece.

Overall, I give GMA high marks for their use of offline/online channels to tell a story.

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