Retail Exercise—Ragged Mountain Running Shop Rachel Wang
Mountain Running Shop is a local family owned running shop located on
the quiet Elliewood Avenue.Founded in 1982, it has expanded its
business a few times.My first visit was on a Saturday afternoon
around 2:30.I had passed by here a couple times before, but never
entered the store.I thought it would be a small-traffic running
shop, especially during the afternoon when we had a football game.However, when I pushed open the door, I was shocked.
After 2 visits, I think that overall this is a charming running shop with an effective layout and well-designed space.In the following paper, I will examine the store in terms of its atmosphere, lay out, product placement, and customers.
Atmosphere: We Love This Community And We Care About You
What you will notice right away after entering the store are the numerous pictures hanging all over the wall and the ceiling.Those pictures are not famous athletes or celebrities; they are people from this community who, like the owners of Ragged Mountain, are passionate about running and other outdoor activities.There are pictures from the Local Running Milestone year after year as well as many other running events that have been sponsored or hosted by Ragged Mountain.I found these pictures to be a very powerful advertisement.These pictures implicitly reveal Ragged Mountain’s values and its commitment to the community.This effectively builds trust between customers and the store.Besides the pictures, there are no other decorations or advertisements in the store.The shop interior is very bright and well ventilated.With the friendly but not pushy staff, one feels very comfortable spending time just walking around.Another thing I would like to mention is the staff here.Ragged Mountain currently has 60 part-time employees and most are between the ages of 16 and 23 (most of them are students from local high schools and UVa).They are not only knowledgeable about running, but are also actively involved in the community (for example, they participate in church groups or service organizations).Plus, on average, the employees work there for 3 to 5 years.Although this might not seem very important, it helps to enhance Ragged Mountain’s community and family oriented culture.
Layout: Apply “Decompression Zone” And “Invariant Right” To Design Limited Space
first thing I saw after entering the store was the checkout counter
twenty feet in front of me.Between us was a passage with some
discounted and small-valued products placed on the side at the middle
section.It reminded me right away of Paco’s “Decompression
Zone”.By not putting anything right in the entrance, it tells
people: you are now at the Ragged Mountain Running Shop, slow down
and take your time.It forces you to pause and look around before you
decide where you want to go because there’s nothing in front
you other than the checkout counter.It took me a few seconds to
decide that I wanted to start the tour from the right-hand side.Ragged Mountain placed all of its main, featured and high unit price
products on the right side of the store, and all of its cheaper
merchandise and on-sale items, as well as storage, on the left.I
wonder if it has anything to do with the “Invariant Right”
theory.But other than using the “Invariant Right” mental
mechanism to grab people’s attention to the objects on the
right side of the store, Ragged Mountain also used the knowledge of
space management to make the right side a more pleasant area to shop.On the right, all of the products are placed along the wall on
shelves.You can easily see everything without moving anything.In
the middle of the right-hand side of the room, four long benches
formed a square with commodious space inside to give
Placement: Systematic Categorization Gives Customers Fine Shopping Experience
The product placements were pretty uniform in terms of price.Products on the shelves were arranged according to their prices.Cheaper ones were at the bottom, high-end products were on the top and averaged priced items were at the middle.First I wondered whether placing those high-unit-price items in an unreachable spot would decrease their potential revenue as a result of deterring customers who might be interested in them.But after my observation, I found out that the current arrangement is probably the best design.I saw many customers linger in front of the shelf, scanning from top to bottom, left to right, and at the end, the product they picked up or the product they asked the staff to bring them were most often the products that were placed in the middle section.Later on, I asked one of the staff which is the most popular merchandise.She pointed to one of the shoes at the middle section of the shelf.When I asked her why, she responded, “because it’s averaged.”With an average price and average performance, it seems that the product is well suited for the average buyer.Other than organizing the products by price, Ragged Mountain also sorts its products by functionality and brand.Take shoes for example: shoes that have the same functionality are put together, therefore you can see categories such as cross country, track, tennis and so.Then under each functionality, there are different brands: New balance, Adidas, Nike, Brooks, Asics….etc.With this orderly placement, it’s really easy for customers to navigate and find the product s/he needs.
Another interesting product placement I found was at the checkout place.The two main merchandises Ragged Mountain features there are chapsticks and the Garmin Forerunner series 1 .I found this interesting because these two products are completely different.One is $2 and is potentially for everyone; the other is priced from $105 to $350 and is mostly for competitive and professional runners.According to the clerk, both items sell well.They put chapsticks there as a reminder, customers will often throw one in their bag at checkout if they run out of it.For the Garmin Forerunner products, the clerk said customers are always curious about what they are and will inquire the staff about them.And this engagement can lead to purchase.
Window Area: Upcoming events and popular products are advertised
The store has 4 display windows.They use one to display the upcoming sales products; two are used to advertise the most popular merchandise in the store which includes the classic Ragged Mountain T-shirt, the FiveFingers shoes and Garmin GPS products.And of course, there are picture of various running events.
Customer: Major Revenue Comes From Regular Customers with Planned Purchase
Most people who make purchases here are regular customers.They know what’s in the store and they know what they want to buy.The regular customers usually come to the store and ask the staff to recommend shoes that are similar to their current ones or simply replace their old ones with a new pair.Almost all the customers consulted with the staff before making their purchase.And the process from coming in to checking out usually takes 15 minutes or more.The staff is all really patient and knowledgeable.They would ask the customers to walk and run around to make sure the shoes are a good fit for the customers.Since regular customers are Ragged Mountain’s main consumers, the owner set up a “loyal program.”At the corner of the store, there is a filing cabinet with around 50 drawers.Customers can create their own file by putting a card in the drawer with their name and the shoes they’ve bought.This way, both the staff and customers can quickly figure out the size and preference for the next purchase.With the card, customers can get 25% off for the 7th pair of shoes they buy.
Recommendation: Adopt Indoor Advertising And Rearrange Popular Products’ Placement
Since most of the purchases are preplanned, Ragged Mountain can do some indoor advertisement to stimulate impulse purchase.I would suggest Ragged Mountain to feature one item per month.The item should be a product with good quality but one that is largely ignored by customers possibly because of its placement or pricing.I would place the featured item in the middle of the square on the right side of the store with a detailed description beside it.That way, it can greatly increase its exposure to those who are waiting for their shoes and to people who are sitting on the bench, waiting for the purchaser.Another recommendation I would make is to reorganize the display and layout in the left-hand side of the shop, especially the shoes on sales (mentioned above).It’s easier for people to buy things they can see and have easy access to.Therefore I would suggest that Ragged Mountain take out the shoes from their boxes and display them on the shelf.Lastly, I would recommend Ragged Mountain to place two of its unexpectedly popular products, FiveFingers shoes and Classic Ragged Mountain T-shirts in a more obvious place.One of the staff told me that most people buy these two items because “it’s a fad” and “everyone has it.”Therefore if they can put it in a more visible place, for example, near the checkout, it can generate more impulse buying.
1 A watch that tells you distance traveled, average pace, your route, etc