Friday 25 January 2008

Product Placement Does Little to Elevate Bed Bath and Beyond's Bland Bathroom

Bed Bath and Beyond
Waterford Lakes Town Center
397 North Alafaya Trail
Orlando, FL USA 32828

Where is it?

Enter the store, turn immediately and head down the hallway found there. The bathrooms will be about 20 feet down that passageway. If you pass the enclave housing the wedding registry desk -- which is directly past that hallway -- you've gone too far.

What's it like?

These housewares superstores tend to be pretty stylish in design, with shelves upon shelves of higher-end home-based products. Given that, you expect the bathrooms to be immaculate and ingeniously designed. Sadly, that isn't the case. On my visit, I found a dirty environment filled with spilled water and bits of trash on the floor -- plus a rather strong aroma of urine in the air.

Worse still, this is a small place, offering only one sink, one urinal and one stall, and because it's set next to the store's main entrance, one hears a lot of foot traffic while inside. Even though only a fraction of that traffic actually reaches the bathroom, the place is still pretty noisy because of the other people walking by. At one point during my visit, the conversation level outside the door got so high I thought a crowd had materialized outside the door to greet me (seeing that I'm a celebrity now after my immensely popular and influential radio interview on KJUG).

Amenity-wise, the place is pretty bland -- a fact that's made all the more disappointing because of all the high-tech bells and whistles found on the sales floor. Visitors will find white tiles on the walls, gray tiles on the floor, and the standard white porcelain toilet and sink you would find in just about any other public restroom. (It's a sad affair when a place called Tacos El Rancho has more stylish and cleaner toilets than Bed Bath and Beyond, don't you think?)

As a means to be clever (I'm assuming), and perhaps seem more stylish and innovative than it really is, the bathrooms have installed two products from the sales floor in them so customers can give them a try "in the real world," so to speak. The first, a soap dispenser pump selling for about $40, stood next to the sink, with a big "Try Me" sticker hanging beside it. Common courtesy (the need to wash my hands after I did my business, essentially) led me to actually give it a whirl, but I didn't think it was anything special and certainly was not worth the asking price (a bottle of soft soap from the grocery store provides a similar effect, I thought, and they're only $1.50).

The trashcan on the floor across from it, also with a "Try Me" sticker on it, along with a price tag offering it for appx. $200, left even less of an impression on me. It's one of those foot-pedal models in which you step on a pedal to lift the top latch and open the trash compartment to you. The latch itself seems stuck in a "partially open/mouth agape" stage, and the fact that there was so much trash on the floor here proved to me that few people were enticed by the product's invitation to trial. Possibly the $200 price tag deterred people as well.

Marks out of 10:

4. Serviceable, but nothing more. Actually, I dropped the score from a 5 because I expected so much more from it.

Comments to the Management:

A better monitoring system should be implemented, so the place looks more presentable. Also, consider installing some actual innovative products for trial here -- it's your store's sales angle, after all!

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