Physical Taobao

This is a very innovative retail shop at least for me. It is like the motor and brick Taobao and ebay.

Instead of filling the whole shop with owner’s items, they rent out the shelve space to smaller business. The shop also provide administrative stuff to maintain and sell items for them. For a stand-alone shop of this size, the monthly rental can easily go over 7k. While top level box in this shop costs only $70 and box in the middle which is the most expensive ones cost about $130.

It provides a really good solutions for part-time sellers who don’t have the time and risk appetite to open their own shops in a crowded shopping mall.

However, I think the cost allocated to boxes located at different levels are highly misplaced. The middle level boxes worth much more than the top level ones, even much higher than the 2nd top level ones. The lower 2 levels should also cost more than the upper 2 levels.

Based on my observation, customers are mainly looking for items in the middle. As this is the most comfortable position for them. At this level, they do not need to put a lot of efforts to raise their heads up, stand on their tiptoe, or bend their knees. At this level they can stand close to the window and slight lower their head to searching for items attract them. Only a few taller male customers bother to raise their head and take a look at items above them. I tried myself (1.78m). I just manage to scan items near the window on 2nd top level. For items that located deep inside the box, I will have to make some effort and raise my toe. Top level? No way.

Interesting enough, the lower 2 levels attract some attentions. As they moving around the shop, they keep lower their heads. In some cases, they may spot some interesting items with peripheral vision. They will then look closer by bending their knees and waist. It works especially well with kids, as some of them even put their needs on the floor when they find something at the bottom level. But top level, no one bothers.

Another fact affect the customers movement is the shells stand in the middle. It is position to the right hand side of the door. As a result, customers unconsciously choose to explore the more spacious left side of the shelves. Hence, I think boxes on the left should cost more than the ones on the right.

Shelves on the far behind? Logically it should be the 2nd wall to be explored by customers and cost more than those on the right. But those shelves are higher than the floor of the shelves. In order to stand close, customer need to step up a few stairs. Of course, those additional efforts drive them direct to the shelves on the right (they do make a quick scan through, but quickly lose interest to stand closer).

One last thoughts about the shop. It attracts a lot more customers compare to neighbors. I think mainly attribute to 2 factors. First, items displayed are cheep. Eg an iPhone protector cost only $10 in the shop compare to more than $20 in other stand-alone booth. Second, people like the feeling to searching for some great deals for their decorative, replaceable stuff. As the shop is selling items from a variety of sellers, customers would tell themselves ‘let’s check whether there are something new and cheap coming’.

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