Tuesday, December 19, 2006

In-store Toys

For the January 2007 issue of Chain Store Age, just about two weeks away from publication, senior editor Connie Gentry has authored an article about handheld devices and how the technology is increasing operational efficiencies. What I found recently is that handhelds have employee entertainment value as well.

On a December shopping adventure to New York City from points Nebraska and Louisiana, my sister and I visited the Coach store at Time Warner Center. While Kim shopped the purses, I was drawn to a display of key fobs. As I eyeballed the offerings, I detected eyeballs trained on me.

A sales associate, with this—I swear—hopeful look on his face stood just behind me. Once I acknowledged that I knew I was being watched, he confessed. “I was just given this new toy this morning, and I’m dying to play with it.” That “toy” was a handheld device, strapped securely to the employee’s wrist.

Well, far be it from me to deny someone a little fun, so I assured the young man that I was ready to check out and would love his help. No question that was my good deed for the day. He happily scanned my purchases and, by the time I walked the four steps to the empty cashwrap, those little fobs had already made it to the back room for gift wrapping! (Yes, that was tongue-in-cheek, but all in fun.)

While handhelds don’t appear to have much operational impact during non-peak shopping hours in a smallish specialty store, this particular wrist model is likely providing hours of playtime for one eager, and charming, Coach sales associate.

—Katherine Field