Color Me Different

Soldiers
I saw this restaurant and followed the color in to take this photo.



They had these multi-colored figurines lined up proudly on the ledge overlooking the tables and patrons. 



Each was different, but also the same. 



They had no faces, and were cut this way and that into segments of color (head, torso, butts, arms, legs, feet)…uniformity, but diversity. 

They are low-tech, but reminded me of robots or toy soldiers, but without the guns–just standing in colorful attention ushering people in to sit and eat and enjoy. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Cafe Barbie Debuts 2013

What an awesome idea for a cafe that can appeal to girls and women worldwide–a Barbie Cafe.

It opened in Taiwan last week and it is licensed by Mattel the founder of Barbie dolls (1959).

At 7,100 square feet and with $1.7 million dollars of investment, you get a lot of Barbie ambience–especially plenty of pink and frills (and calorie counting).

While some women may be turned off to the girlie stigma of a Barbie Cafe, there are probably many others who are enchanted with the dreamy image it bring from childhood and the ability to express a certain femininity, the Barbie way.

My prediction–in the near future, there is going to be a Ken Cafe opening up right across the street. 😉

Apple Store “Heaven”

Apple_store

The Apple Store is always packed with people–it’s like they are just camped out there, permanently.  

According to the Wall Street Journal (15 June 2011), the Apple stores are an unbelievable success story:
1) The 326 stores sold about $11.7 billion worth of merchandise in 2010, and have an estimated 26.9% profit margin–compared with about 1% margin for Best Buy before taxes. 
2) They led with sales per square foot of over $4,406–higher than Tiffany at $3,070,, Coach at $1,776, and Best Buy at $880
3) More people now visit Apple’s stores in a single quarter than the 60 million who visited Disney’s 4 biggest theme parks last year.
And people are not just “window shopping,” but people are actively engaged trying out, testing, experimenting with the latest Apple products sitting out on the display desks.
Of course, there are also lots of sales people in their bright red Apple shirts ready to help, answer questions, and even sell you something. 
Apple’s stated “sales” philosophy–“not to sell, but rather to help customer solve problems.”  
Thus, employees receive no sales commissions and have no sales quotas–that’s definitely pretty novel!  (The exception is that “employees must sell services packages with devices”–I’ve always been a little leery of those, thinking why do I need the service package if the product is supposedly such high quality to begin with?)
Apple focuses their team on customer service, and their 20007 training manual uses the APPLE acronym as follows:
A–“Approach customers with a personalized warm welcome”
P–“Probe politely to understand all the customer needs”
P--“Present a solution for the customer to take home today”
L–“Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns”
E–“End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return”
I sort of like it–no where does it say to sell, up-sell, cross-sell the customer, but rather it’s much more about services and solutions. 
At checkout, the salespeople can ring you up from where ever you happen to be in the store on iPod touches with credit card readers. 
And trouble shooting Apple products is done at the “Genius Bar”–something like the Geek Squad on steroids. This is where things start to get a little weird, since Apple only pays their geniuses something like $30 an hour, so but for the love of Apple, what are they doing there?
Overall though, I think the whole store experience is pretty ingenious: from “the clutter free look using natural materials like wood, glass, stone, and stainless steel” to the large image color displays of the products dotting the walls, the stores are inviting, hip, and you know when you walk out with a product, it’ll be plug and play, immediately functional, and extremely sleek to match. 
J.C. Penny made a brilliant move announcing the hiring of Ron Johnson as their new CEO, effective November–Ron is the brains behind the Apple store design.  If Ron can Apple-fy the Penny stores, wow wow wow, but that this is not a sure thing, since Apple products are cool and sort of sell themselves anyway–they just needed the right ambience.
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

>The Whopper Bar and Enterprise Architecture

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First, let me start off and say that I am Kosher and have never had a big Whopper. Nevertheless, Burger King has announced plans for a Whopper Bar that sounds marvelous!

The Wall Street Journal, 29-30 March 2008, reports that “Burger King Holdings Inc. plans to start building a new version of its restaurants this year called the Whopper Bar that will sell a wider variety of its signature hamburger in a hipper setting.”

The menu “could include as many as 10 types of Whoppers…one menu sketch has a section called ‘pimp your Whopper,’ where patrons can chose from additional toppings.” Beer may be on the menu as well, especially in overseas markets where it already sells alcohol.

The Whopper Bar “is akin to McDonald’s Corp.’s creation of McCafe coffee bars, except that it is built around the chains signature sandwich.”

“Workers will place toppings on burgers in front of the customers ‘to put a little more theatre into it.’”

“Early design plans call for the bars to have chrome, wood, and exposed brick and plasma screen televisions with images of fire playing on them to evoke Burger King’s flame-broiled motto.”

The bars are planned “for places like casinos, airports, and other venues with limited space.”

The Whopper Bar tastes right from the start from a User-centric enterprise architecture perspective. Why?

Well traditional fast-food joints tend to be somewhat dirty and unsightly “restaurants” (and I use this term generously here). It is not unusual to find filthy bathrooms and the restaurants being used as shelter, especially in the inner city—how do I know, I’ve stopped to use the restroom on occasion.

From what I’ve seen, even if I was not Kosher, there is very little appeal in eating the food in these establishments. Moreover, the unhealthy stigma of the extremely greasy food is a Whopper of a turn-off.

This is exactly why the Whopper Bar is such a genius idea. It borrows from the success of Starbucks and their magic formula for creating a high scale ambience from a simple cup of joe. It also, elevates the unhealthy food by them making it in front of you—taking away the stigma of what goes on “in the back.” The result is more upscale and not-so-bad for you at least in perception.

The target architecture here is exactly what many customers want. A fast, cheap meal, but in a feel good environment. In fact, my advice to Burger King would be to roll out the Whopper Bar much more broadly, and replace their traditional eatery concept altogether.

In this case perception is everything!