Disney at NRF: Disney Store is “touchpoint”

Posted by Marty Brochstein on January 14, 2011

In an Oracle-sponsored presentation that centered on how technology was being used to both enhance the customer experience as well as improve productivity of its newest Disney Store design, Disney’s Stephen Finney offered a basic rationale to answer a basic question: Why would Disney “take on the business risk associated with running a global specialty retail business.”

Of course, in 2004 Disney decided that it shouldn’t – it sold off the 313-store business it was then operating in North America to The Children’s Place. Within four years, it bought back a severely wounded Disney Store that had sunk into bankruptcy. (In a Lion King homage, Finney slyly referred to that period as the time when Disney Store was “under Scar’s rule.”) At this point, the much leaner Disney Store has 370 stores in nine countries, including more than 40 in Japan and more than 100 in Europe. The once-bloated North American operation has been significantly scaled back. Finney’s presentation included a carefully worded reference to long-term expansion as “maintain[ing] the store count within our existing markets while exploring opportunities in emerging markets.”  During Q&A, he said that in North America, Disney Store “is not going to be as ubiquitous as it once was.” Lesson learned.

The basic rationale for the stores is as a “touchpoint” for the brand. Disney says that on an average day, five million people pass a Disney Store, and 550,000 adults actually go into one –voluntarily immersing themselves into the brand, and creating sales opportunities for a full range of Disney products and services.

Aside from the multiple visual flourishes and backend efficiencies that have been worked into the new design that’s being rolled out throughout the chain, one interesting highlight is that if a customer is looking for a product that isn’t among the 1200 SKUs a store typically carries, a salesperson – sorry, “cast member” – can access the online store from a handheld device to see whether it’s among the 5000+ SKUs carried there.

Finney said that the stores that have gotten the new design and technology are 25% more productive in sales and margins.