There are simple conveniences, design elements and services everywhere that turn convention on its ear.
Tale #1 — I’m at my hotel and the bathroom has quite a unique feature – the shower has a sink, complete with heated mirror. I love this! For guys everywhere who shave in the shower, this is such as great innovation. Unique and memorable – something that will talked about long after I head back to the states.
Tale #2 — A friend of mine is developing a small inn for Northern California’s wine country. She wanted the experience to bring together the best of the best in terms of amenities and services. So she set out to ask everyone she knows (and whose taste she respects) what his or her three favorite hotel memories are. She heard everything from heated towels, to a bottle of water (free of charge) by the bedside at turndown to bellboys who knew their name as they arrived. She wanted to combine all of those, and then cull them down into a manageable list that would make every step of the guest’s experience memorable (but also make it so the experience was attainable by a broad audience and not just the super rich). She was looking to offer an innovative approach to hospitality where the guest was surprised at every turn.
Tale #3 — I was shopping at a great store here called l’Eclaireur, which happens to house a collection of Fornasetti products but also had some other unique products including a line of candles called JimmyJane. With so many candle lines out there, it takes something really special to make me buy a candle. It started with the design – a ceramic white square “pitcher” with a small “pour spout” on one corner held the wax. But the scent is what intoxicated me – habanero (as in pepper) with grapefruit. The combination of citrus with that feeling you get in your nose as you dice a jalapeño pepper in your kitchen was so unique, yet so intoxicating that I had to have the candle. An innovative blend of scents.
THE REAL WORLD RETAILING
Innovation is everywhere. You just need to look.
Just as Apple changed the focus of computers away from a rectangular black box to a highly designed, colorful work of art (they have a great product too), you need to turn your business on its ear in order to really stand out.
I’m working with a design firm that wants to open a retail concept. As we visited paperies here in Paris, we noticed that every store is the same….a collection of papers, cards, journals, binders, etc. all displayed in a rectangular store with rectangular shelves along the walls and square tables and fixtures on the sales floor.
It’s easy to turn this category on its ear simply by changing the entire skew of the store from angular to rounded, thus changing the public’s perception of what a paperie is, or more importantly, what it can be. Gone will be the classical music and in will come lounge music. Gone will be the librarian type employee and in will come a hip sophisticate.