NEW YORK -- Retailers could get more benefits from their video rental department TV monitors by better placement and by paying closer attention to what they are playing on them, said a merchandising expert.
Based on studies he has conducted in video and music specialty stores, Paco Underhill, who has studied supermarket merchandising and store design and is principal researcher at Envirosell here, said supermarkets should put monitors at eye level and target the programming to the types of customers in the store during different parts of the day. More effective use of monitors can result in a more attractive environment for the customers and more sales and rentals of the videos being played. "The monitor should be low enough so it catches the customers' sight lines, particularly as they are moving through the supermarket. It should have some relationship to the people on the floor," said Underhill.
Also, the monitors should not face the cash-wrap, the fixture that contains the register and point-of-sale equipment, he said. "Transactions get slower when the monitor sits in the visual spectrum of the cash-wrap operator. It also tends to be very fatiguing. No one wants to do their math homework while they are watching TV," he said.
Retailers don't pay enough attention to what they are featuring on the monitors, he said. "What is played on the monitors needs to be programmed to the time of day and the customer mix that is in the store," said Underhill. For example, he suggested:
· In the morning the programming should target the old and the young, with movies like "On Golden Pond" or other classics, and cartoons. · At lunch time retailers should appeal to people doing their shopping during their work break with a more middle-of-the-road type of programming. · Afternoons are a time to target teen-agers, who are doing more of the family shopping. · In the evenings retailers should play movies targeting the baby-boomer demographic.
"I'd take a very distinct approach to Saturday," said Underhill. "I'd put on the baby-boomer stuff in the morning with a mix of cartoons, teen-age programming late in the afternoon, and on Saturday night, I'd go with more adventure programming."
A lesson supermarket video rental departments can learn from music retailers is to use posted lists to build revenues, he said. But video rental departments should use lists designed to move catalog titles rather than top hits, as the music retailers do, he said. In video, retailers don't make their money on new releases, but on their ability to rent their backlists. The degree to which they can link backlist product to current product is very important."
Retailers also should design the cash-wrap area to make it easy for employees to get from behind the register to the sales floor, he said. "That can be a very important issue, particularly during slow periods.
"A video rental location can set the tone for the entire store, because it is one of the places where, for one segment of your audience, the interaction between sales people and customers can develop into a very intimate relationship," he added.