Packaging and Displays Within a Store
By Marie Clapper
Perhaps Kerry Bailey (Menasha Packaging and Displays) has never before been compared to Aristotle. But going on a store walk-through with him reminded me of the Peripatetic School credited to that philosopher. The name came from Aristotle’s alleged habit of walking while teaching. And that is just what happened as Kerry and I walked the aisles in the Bentonville, Arkansas, Sam’s Club. He was the teacher, and I was the student.
Bailey quizzed me as we walked. What were my observations? What ideas was I getting from what I saw? Where were the special displays placed? How were the displays constructed? Was a display sturdy enough to last until the final product on display is sold? What appeared to be working well? My mind raced because although I’m a Sam’s Club member myself, I had never considered any of this!
I learned that key displays are at the front of the store, the health and wellness section, and the check-out area. “These spots show the Sam’s Club member that there are great products and great prices here. This reinforces the value of the club membership,” Bailey explained.
I learned the value of primping. We passed a 6’ tall display of bags of potato chips. A Sam’s employee was fluffing out the corners of each bag and propping up each one as if getting it ready for the Easter parade. “How everything looks is important. A great display — starting with dependable, good-looking packaging — makes a real difference,” he said.
I learned there are many different kinds of displays — pallets, boots, cards — and that solid construction is critical. Buying in bulk is expected at clubs like Sam’s Club, making packaging perhaps even more important here than in a standard store like Walmart.
Then we walked into what Kerry called the cold cave, a large room that’s refrigerated. “This speaks to freshness. People like to buy cold things cold. All of this,” and here Kerry swiveled around with his arms indicating the whole room, ”means quality and again reinforces the value of the membership.”
We stopped at the deli counter. “They need additional communication here,” Bailey said. “This is Arkansas not Chicago. Nobody’s likely to talk with the deli guy over the counter, so the signs better help, direct, and inspire that shopper. This space offers plenty of untapped opportunity for sending important messages.”
Bailey has been asking and answering questions like these for his twenty-five year career in retail. Now, as Senior Director, Walmart and Sam’s Club Global Support Team, for Menasha Display and Packaging, he thinks his knowledge is rich but not complete.
“One of the things I love about retail is that it’s always changing. That’s the invitation,” he states. “The variety draws me in.
“Take milk cartons, for example. The new milk cartons have vertical sides (fit better into a truck) and are grooved (more secure when pouring). But will the shopper abandon the familiar carton and accept this new shape? Previously the shopper rejected a similar carton. This time the manufacturer added a handle to the package, giving it a different orientation and allowing the pourer to have greater control. Will that do the trick?
“Retail is a lot like fishing,” expanded Bailey. “Today I catch something. Tomorrow I can do the exact same things and catch nothing. I find it all fascinating. I especially like examining the path to purchase and seeing that closure happen. It’s cool when someone goes from being half sold on something to actually buying it. That’s my idea of adventure!”
Spoken like a true philosopher and retail expert.