We were famous for putting huge fish tanks, museums, archery ranges, etc into the stores making them balloon to well over 200,000 feet. People would drive for hours to visit a Cabela’s store because they knew they would find the largest merchandise selection and they’d bring their kids who enjoyed looking at the 4ft catfish swimming in the water. Cabela’s stores were well documented to increase tourist activity that overflowed to surrounding businesses and restaurants.
Cabela’s eventually retreated somewhat from the destination store concept due to the sheer expense. Unlike Apple, they had to borrow money to build their stores and they wanted to build as many stores as they could so they cut their size down to about half of what they used to be. They tried to balance having an attractive enough store that foot traffic didn’t decline without having to spend more than they needed to. This boosted their dollars per square foot.
Apple already had the sales per dollar square foot metrics right where they wanted. But it now looks like they’re trying to increase foot traffic even more outside of their prototypical fan base. But how do you do that when you sell relatively little that non-Apple customers would want?
Cabela’s would get a lot of non-Cabela’s customers visiting their stores for the first time because loyal customers would bring visiting friends and family to the store. You know how it is when you have a house full of family over for the holidays and you’re itching to get out of the house for a while? These visiting in-laws or friends would have a great time visiting our store and often become new repeat customers.
The old Apple Stores were the opposite of Cabela’s in that they focused too much on sales per square foot to current Apple customers. People with retail experience can now see that Angela is trying to balance things by also focusing on a “sales funnel”. The sales funnel is the concept of increasing overall foot traffic of non-customers because a certain percentage of those become repeat customers.
I should note that investing in your retail sales funnel can be an internally contentious issue within a corporation. There often aren't concrete metrics which quantify the benefits of the sales funnel.The finance group may cast a dubious eye on what they see as frivolity and the Cabela’s retail group had to defend their concept on a regular basis. Cabela’s move to smaller stores is one stage of a long battle.
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