Party City’s Spooktacular Product Wall Improves the Shopping Experience
by Amanda McCreary
A good user experience doesn’t always require technology
It’s almost Halloween and I needed to put the finishing touches on my costume. This year I decided to make up my own costume – I am Wine Woman, fighting sobriety one grape at a time with my trusty side-kick Sangria Girl. Once my friend Bethany and I settled on our costumes, I immediately went to amazon.com to try and piece it all together. Purple dress, purple tights, purple Mardi-Gras mask (because, why not?) and a purple cape added to my cart and I was good to go! Except, unbeknownst to me, my cape came from an Amazon seller, and not Amazon itself.
So it was late. And like any good superhero, Wine Woman NEEDS a cape.
The first of my Halloween parties is tonight, and I needed a cape ASAP. During lunch, I managed to pry myself away from my desk and went around the corner to Party City, fingers crossed that they had a purple cape in stock. Or, really, any cape would do at this point.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been to Party City, for a reason. I’m always overwhelmed when I go in those places, and it was desperation that brought me there today. Ridiculous amounts of candy, party favors and streamers were jammed from floor to ceiling everywhere you turned. I was expecting to have to dig my way through a completely overflowing Halloween section to unearth my cape.
But then I got to the Halloween section and everything changed. Instead of unbridled chaos, it was calm. Instead of lightsabers on the floor and 80s punk rock wigs falling out of overflowing baskets, I saw neat containers with accessories clearly labeled and images of full costumes. Party City had their entire Halloween costume catalog printed out and neatly pasted to the wall. With one quick scan you could see all the costumes they had in stock with prices, details and order numbers. Just like on their website. But here it was perfectly analog. No touchscreen. No mouse. No interactive menus. No waiting in line to use a digital interface.
Party City has done what is rarely seen in the retail world. They took the best part of the online commerce and brought it in store, and by doing so, they broke the chaotic mold of shopping for Halloween costumes and organized it, making it simpler than ever. And they did this WITHOUT technology!
As I stood in awe of the product wall I saw a little boy and his dad browse through the costumes, discussing the pros and cons of Spiderman vs. Superman vs. a Ninja Turtle. They discussed what was included and what wasn’t, and I’m sure dad took into account the price. All of which was easily scannable from just about any vantage point.
Online and offline commerce experiences are merging, slowly but surely. I’ve talked about it. CNBC has talked about it. Mary Meeker has talked about it. Forrester has researched it. But we’re so deep in the digital world we sometimes forget that a good user experience doesn’t always require technology.
Party City’s solution was so simple, yet so effective. It’s so simple that I even wonder if they realize how innovative they are. By printing out their catalog and pasting it to the wall Party City managed to:
- Improve my in store experience and ensure I can find the exact costume I wanted
- Hold more inventory by using much less floor space to display product
- Reduce product lost to damages by keeping new product from being torn open, dumped on the floor and trampled on
- Upsell me through the recommended accessories written on each product
Hats off to Party City. Retail is a scary business around Halloween, and you’ve earned my loyalty.
For now… muwahahahaha...