Bed Bath’s Store Remodels The Latest In A Growing Trend

greg sleterThe cover story of HomeWorld’s March 1 International Home + Housewares Show issue focused on the on-going importance of stores.

Written by my colleague Mike Duff, the story was the first in a continuing series this year in HomeWorld that takes an in-depth look at how retailers are finding new ways to utilize their real estate to best serve their shoppers.

Following in the footsteps of Target and Walmart, both of which are investing millions of dollars in store remodels, Bed Bath & Beyond is now in the process of a much-needed store facelift.

Touted as its Next Generation Lab stores, Bed Bath has tested a variety of concepts as part of an effort to enhance the customer shopping experience. Results, according to officials with the retailer, have been positive so far.

In a recent investor conference call, Bed Bath CEO Steven Temares reported sales in the Lab stores over a recent four week period were 2.2% higher than comparable BBB locations. Transaction and product margin rates were also higher.

While early results are a good sign, clearly more needs to be done. For the consumer who enjoys cooking or home decorating, Bed Bath & Beyond should be their go-to store. Unfortunately, the retailer’s approach to merchandising over the past several years has provided a less-than-inviting shopping experience.

As one who frequents Bed Bath locations to review their product assortment, but also visits as a customer, the crowded, narrow aisles make it difficult to shop its stores.

It’s a challenge for consumers to review products, compare items and at times reach the product they are looking to purchase. I know this firsthand having helped a customer or two retrieve an item that was positioned well above them and the selling floor.

The Lab stores look to address some of these challenges and include several new features such as additional food and beverage offerings, improved sightlines, cross-merchandising and lifestyle merchandising.

Bed Bath’s store remodel effort is something that has long been needed and if early results translate to the entire chain, it will be good for its business.

The retailer’s investment in its stores is also positive for retailing as a whole. While e-commerce continues to grow in importance, stores today and for the foreseeable future have a vital role to play in how consumers buy products.

People still like to get out and shop. But they want to do so in stores that are inviting and offer a unique experience. That’s the biggest lesson not just for Bed Bath & Beyond, but for every retailer big and small.