Kudos to the New England Aquarium for the great use of “shelf talkers” in their gift shop.  In a busy tourist destination like this it is a real challenge to give personal service. So shop management has made good use of 4 types of signs throughout the store to draw customers’ attention to certain items.

Exclusive: Many of the souvenir items are of course exclusive to the New England Aquarium, but most other stores have only a few “exclusives.”  And yet one of the main reasons that shoppers visit independent shops is in the hopes of discovering unique items.  A recent study published by MasterCard Advisors stated that while supporting the local economy was the primary reason that shoppers supported small business, a close second was the ability “to find one-of-a-kind gifts.

Made in the USA: This factor is important to some customers, especially if the merchandise is not much more expensive than it would be if imported.  And of course tourists from other countries particularly appreciate being able to find American souvenirs to take home.

Staff Favorite and Top Seller: These signs are great for showing that the employees are involved in selecting the merchandise, and know which items are most popular. If you have a lot of repeat traffic, it’s important to change the items highlighted by these signs frequently.  Selecting the staff favorite of the week, or the month, is a great way to get all your employees involved in promoting your merchandise.

The aquarium also had sale signs, of course. One that caught my eye was a large display of large stuffed penguins with an original approach: Save 50% when purchased with an additional item.  This meant that shoppers didn’t have to buy two penguins to get the special, but they did have to look around for something else to purchase.

The New England Aquarium is well worth a visit for many reasons — and we had a great time on their whale watch cruise in the Boston harbor.  But it’s nice to know that in addition to their educational and aesthetically pleasing aquatic exhibits, their shop is good example of excellence in retailing.

Happy Retailing,
Carol “Orange” Schroeder