Fall 2010
Sales Soar at Redesigned Airport Gift Shop By Natalie Tan

A total strategy and store redesign allows sales at an airport gift shop to really take off.

Jonathan and Melinda Yu knew their airport gift shop, Skyway News, at Vancouver International, could do so much more. Taking over the management from Jonathan’s father in 2008 meant that they could implement new ideas and strategies to realize the shop’s full potential.

A wide range of issues from retail identity to product presentation was assessed and improved upon. Here are the results of the transformation:

Retail identity

While the name Skyway Gifts and News is indicative of a typical airport shop, it might not always have a positive connotation. The impression usually is that the store carries overpriced merchandise. The name Skyway also failed to promote the image the Yus wished to convey—that of an upscale West coast gift shop, evoking the beautiful geographical setting around the airport. Galiano is an island off the west coast of British Columbia, about an hour’s ferry ride from the mainland. Lush greenery and rich natural surroundings is evocative of the province. The store’s new name, Galiano Gifts, captured this essence wonderfully.

Signage and entryway

Special attention was paid to the store signage. The old one was rather uninspiring. In contrast, the new sign features big bold white letters which really pop; the sign helps draw customers’ attention. The miniature pine trees against the background help emphasize that the store is “Super, Natural British Columbia” and plays up the specialty of the local area well.

The shop entrance was originally located off to the left side of the store. This small entrance was made tighter by the placement of an ice cream freezer that blocked half the entryway. The redesigned shop now sports a much wider entrance, with the original front glass wall removed to create a more inviting opening. Merchandise displays spill out to the main corridor, attracting customers as they walk by.

Store Atmospherics

A new identity called for a new look and feel of the store. Instead of the old vanilla slat walls wood trim and warm tones are now used. To ensure ease of merchandising, slotted standards were installed throughout the shop . This enables the store to display items with as much flexibility as possible without the distracting repeated patterns of line found in slat walls. A combination of nesting tables upfront and custom-made gondola units houses merchandise and shows them to their best advantage. Wooden crates and trays enhance the selling environment the owners wanted to achieve.

Additional track lights were added to improve lighting inside and to enable the shop to properly illuminate both focal and general displays.

Merchandise Selection

While lottery sales dominated the old Skyway shop, Galiano Gifts now includes a better selection of clothing for men, women and children; toys and gifts for children; other gifts such as jewelry, fashion accessories, fragrance, candles and home accessories; business accessories and gourmet confectionery. Seasonal products are also added to complement existing merchandise and entice customers to purchase.

Category placement and product presentation

Zones are created for each market segment. Men’s clothing and related gifts such as business accessories are found on the left side of the shop. Women’s clothing, gifts and fashion accessories are to the right, while children’s gifts and toys are located on the back right. Destination items such as magazines and other reading materials are merchandised behind the men’s section on the back left. Within each segment, products are displayed with care for stronger impact and to encourage customers to interact with them.

Instead of being upfront near the entrance, the cash desk is relocated closer to the back. This is to ensure customers coming in for lottery tickets are exposed to all gift items twice—once as they walk in and another time as they walk out the store.

As a result of the redesign, the sales in the gifts category improved significantly. In 2007, lottery tickets comprised 70% of all sales. After the redesign last year, sales in the gifts category caught up and even slightly surpassed lottery sales by taking up almost 51% of sales.

Considering that the margins on lottery sales are only around five percent, while that on gifts is more like 50-60, the impact to the store’s bottom line is tremendous. The case of Galiano’s Gifts proves that a little thought given to the store’s message and displays can go a long way in improving sales.

Editor’s Note: This store redesign was implemented by Natalie Tan from Retail Excellence Consulting. Tan is also the author of this article.

Natalie Tan

A retail specialist passionate about store atmospherics, Natalie Tan loves working with retailers and speaks at gift shows and conventions. Visit her website at www.retailexcellence.com.

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