3am inspiration. • 28 October 2008 • The SnowBlog
At this morning's 3am feed, with my head lolling back on the headboard, I was suddenly struck with a clever idea to do with dual merchandising and the internet. Dual merchandising is where the same product appears twice in a store. For instance, you might make the case for handwash to be sited in the soap section, as well as the kitchen section. Or there's that famous case of the beer and nappies which I've mentioned before (briefly, one of the grocers did an experiment, siting beer next to nappies because they reckoned men would be sent to the shop to buy nappies, and wouldn't be able to resist the lure of the sweet, sweet beer if it was right next to them. According to legend, it worked.) Space planners and commercial analysts hate dual siting because it's a waste of space and an unnecessary complication, and sets a precedent for the buyer mucking around with stuff. The problem is that once you site a product in a couple of places, a case can be made pretty easily for siting it in a third, fourth and fifith place. Before you know it, you've got a store in a right mess and plummeting margin per linear foot.
On to my clever idea. It dawned on me at 3am that online stores don't have the problems of real world dual siting. Space is free, pretty much. You're not trying to squeeze every last drop of productivity out of your footage. So there's no reason why products can't be categorised and sited in as many ways as possible. The basic arrangement can still be in standard categories, but there's so much scope for some innovative bringing-together of some pretty crazy - but possibly quite inspirational - product combinations. For instance, wine and chocolate next to books for a nice night in; OU courses next to serious non fiction; telescopes next to astronomy books. You get the gist. Care to name any possible innovative pairings in the comments below? Then together we can take the idea to Amazon and sell it to them for a million pounds. Perhaps.