You might see a few new things the next time you visit your favorite Disney Store, and it won’t necessarily be the merchandise on the shelves.
Disney is moving ahead with plans to add more than 25 new and remodeled stores this year. But don’t expect to see just more reincarnations of existing stores. Rather these new and revamped sites will be variations of the high-tech, interactive concept stores that were built at several locations in 2010, including the new Times Square flagship location in New York City.
These so-called “immersive” stores are designed with entertaining and time-saving innovations, such as interactive displays to entice and entertain kids, and store clerks armed with mobile electronic devices that alleviate the need for customers to stand at line at cash registers. Disney, which made the announcement at this week’s giant National Retail Federation conference in New York, said it plans to eventually change all of its 350-plus stores to the new high-tech concept.
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The newly designed stores will open in cities including Atlanta, Seattle and San Antonio, Texas. Also, the Mall of America in Minnesota will get its first Disney Store, as will Puerto Rico, and Dublin, Ireland, and Copenhagen, Denmark. New stores were planned for Canada, as well.
The high-tech innovations being used in the new concept stores are another way for Disney to attract customers to its stores as much for the experience as for making purchases. Some of the new technology includes digital marketing signs that feature specific content for the individual stores. A “magical mirror” will allow children to see Disney characters. And kids will be able to design and play with their own cars inspired by the Pixar “Cars” franchise.
And, using Oracle’s retail-sales technology, the new Disney Stores will feature clerks equipped with specially designed Apple iPod touches. Much as customers to any Apple Store today can purchase merchandise from anywhere on the sales floor, the Disney Store clerks also will be able to take customers’ credit card information with their iPods and complete the sale anywhere in the store, eliminating the need for customers to stand in line at a central register.
Another benefit of this point-of-sale transaction is that Disney Store employees will be able to, in real time and standing beside the customer, access not just their store’s in-house merchandise but also will be able to help customers tap into the inventory of DisneyStore.com. Go to a Disney Store to purchase a Minnie Mouse beach towel, only to find out the store is sold out? No problem, because the Disney Store worker will be able to track it down online.
And the Oracle software also offers other benefits for the company, as well. For example, the electronic data can identify customers based on previous sales habits and other profile information. It can track sales to help more easily facilitate merchandise returns, and it can identify discounts and promotions more readily.
There are more than 200 Disney Store locations in North America, and scores more worldwide.