From the NRF BIG Show: The Magic of Disney Inside a Retail Space
Led onto the stage by Mickey and Minnie Mouse, there was no mistaking that Stephen Finney was from the Disney Store when he made his entrance to give the keynote speech at this week's National Retail Federation BIG Show in New York City. The senior vice president of global retail operations for the media and entertainment company was there to talk about Disney's brick-and-mortar stores, and in particular, the role technology has played in the transformation of the stores from mere retail spaces to “imagination parks.”
With approximately 400 locations around the world, Disney Store has established an international presence. The opening of its new flagship store in New York's Times Square last November had the feel of a movie premiere to it, not the opening of a retail store. But that's the message Disney Store wants to convey to consumers: that its stores are much more than retail spaces. They're places where events happen, and where consumers interact with media of all types as well as Disney cast members.
But times weren't always so magical for Disney Store. In fact, in the spring of 2008, the Disney Store filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. It was at that point that the company re-evaluated what it wanted to accomplish with its retail stores. Of course like any other retailer, Disney wanted to make money. But there was something more at work here.
“How do you become the best 30 minutes of a child's day” became the motto for Disney Store. To help answer this question, Disney turned to technology. The company hadn't changed its store design for 20 years — from 1988 to 2008, or as Finney referred to it, “the pink and green design phase,” referencing the overwhelming presence of the two colors in its stores — and it had become stale and dated. The company prioritized a technological investment for its retail stores.