Bed Bath & Beyond is the stack it high merchandiser for household gadgets, home textiles and cookware. Shoppers need towels, a can opener, candles and bathmats. Now stores are getting a major facelift following the 2018 stockholders meeting. That is when CEO Steve Temares announced “Next Generation” stores. Since then, Bed Bath & Beyond bonds have been downgraded. It has taken strikes against everything from its mission statement to its stock re-purchase plan. Its stock price tumbled from $78 to under $17 in 4 years.
This is a company that is being buffeted by the Amazon effect. If you are going to build your strategy around having everything, how do you compete against the endless aisles online? Those big blue coupons in the mail will not do it. Like other brick and mortar retailers, BBBY decided a facelift is in order. I got a quick look at the new remodel in Bloomington, Minnesota yesterday. Here’s the recap:
Imagine the standard Bed Bath & Beyond store. Merchandise stacked to the ceiling and it generally looks like this. That causes some customer claustrophobia. The shopping experience is similar to IKEA where there is one defined shopping pattern from entryway to checkout.
First impressions are the open sight lines in the center of the store. There are more vignettes. Home décor takes center stage instead of household necessities and basics. The expanded focus on home décor and furnishings leverage the co-owned One Kings Lane brand. One King’s Lane President Debbie Probst said sales of decorative furnishings placed in store and shipped directly to customers grew 10.4% over the 4 weeks ending June 27, 2018. BBBY seems aiming to become a relevant brick and mortar alternative to HomeGoods, Wayfair and Overstock.
Next, the “Beverage Center” highlights consumables to spur repeat visits. Perimeter walls have graphic panels that highlight brands while screening ugly inventory upstock.
In addition, the stores have more and brighter lighting, vertical way finding signs and a new focus on “treasure hunt and seasonal items.” A clear play for the holiday home decoration market which is up +3.7% to reach revenue of $27 billion US in 2018.
Finally, the checkout experience is dramatically different. For the first time, shoppers are confronted with the 8 brands under the BBBY company umbrella. It is unclear what they are supposed to do with that information. One suspects it either is an intriguing piece of trivia or a forebooding acknowledgement of retail consolidation. Individual check lanes are replaced with the consumer-preferred single line where an automated line system directs shoppers to the next available cashier.
Bed Bath and Beyond says they are leaning into technology and showcasing their breadth of product available online. The stores seem more inviting and interesting to shop. Company leaders say they are following a “fail fast and iterate quickly” strategy. They expect stores to change over time as the company aligns on the exact elements that will go forward – presumably for all stores. In a year where store closures are making news, it is cheering to see a US retailer re-investing in its brick and mortar footprint.