Exclusive: Meet the 3M Experience in Staples

Post-It mural

It grabs you: You are not going to miss a 10′ X 20′ mural made entirely of Post-Its hanging from the open ceiling of a Staples store.  And that is just the start of the “outside the box” thinking that went into the 3M experience being tested in two Staples stores in the U.S.

light

It begins at the front right of the entry: a hanging circular light changes color  using the three LED’s within.  Then there are the table and chairs, fixtures and video screen covered in a variety of 3M coatings. Not for sale in the store. Just to see how durable they are in a retail environment.  The video plays a loop embedded into a clear plexi insert in what is now a common technology store form: the stand alone white oblong with rounded corners. (see also: Apple Stores, Best Buy Stores, Verizon stores, AT&T Stores, etc.)

merch

An artistic decision was made to merchandise product in a color spectrum to highlight both standard and unexpected 3M products: Washi tape, Post-its, flags, highlighters, tape dispensers and duct tape abound in a variety of new designs and forms. (mustache post-it notes and Superman duct tape.)

Like a Pinterest board come to life, there are washi tape covered items (like journals, picture frames and glass sugar dispensers) and washi tape samples to let customers try the crazed-crafter staple. (No pun intended.)

Corporate 3M has been making the touring rounds to a Minneapolis-area Staples as well as the Florida HQ Staples to see if this store-within-a-store approach makes fiscal sense.  Our sources agree: it’s an eye-catcher, but so far the jury is out as to whether this 3M experience is driving the revenues required for a national rollout to make sense for 3M…or Staples.

washi

It speaks to the lack of visual merchandising experience that the front of this area has the usual tired photos of happy families while the really WOW eye-appealing Post-It not mural faces the back of the store. There’s something here that could make Staples a destination store for the hip-Pinterest crowd if there was a better create-it, make-it story highlighting the unusual new items.  Unfortunately, dropping really cool product into a less-than cool store doesn’t turn customers into purchasers.  (For example, a shopper looking at the Washi tape display looked at the odd tube merchandising and thought it was a gift wrap display.)

Kudos to both companies for giving something gutsy a try.  This is the perfect example of why retailers test before rolling out.  With more focus, it could be a hit.

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