Make It Rain: How UK Retailers Can Cash In on Umbrella Bags

Make It Rain: How UK Retailers Can Cash In on Umbrella Bags

Umbrella bags are exactly as there name suggests - bags to hold your wet umbrella.  In the US, you often see them present at store entrances, as a convenient way for customers to bag their brollies.  As small a touch as they may be, this initiative can actually add value to the customer experience, establishing customer safety as a key priority.  This article discusses those CX advantages, and looks into how UK-based, high-street retailers could also see gains from the introduction of umbrella bags - especially given the nation's reputation for its frequent downpours!

ABOVE: An example of a wet umbrella bag dispenser suitable for small and large umbrellas.

Monday 1st June 2015, the start of Summer for many, but guess what... it's peeing it down here in the UK!  Whilst there are many contributing factors that can affect revenue, retailers often look to the weather, as one such cause.  For a fashion retailer, a bad Summer (weather-wise) can detrimentally impact sales of a Spring / Summer collection, in the same way that an unusually mild Winter can affect sales of a Autumn / Winter collection.  Whilst online sales may suffer under such circumstances, it's the brick and mortar stores that are likely to fair much worse off.  Let's face it, who wants to go out shopping on the high street, in the pouring rain?

With the likelihood of customers bringing wet umbrellas into store, retailers face the risk of slippery floors in their entrances, which ultimately, increase the risk of accidents.  Not only that, but customers then also face the inconvenience of having to carry these wet umbrellas around the store with them.  This in itself can become a chore, hindering the ability to browse.  Businesses also run the risk of customers inadvertently damaging their merchandise, as a result of water dripping off the umbrellas and onto their goods.

One seemingly simple solution, which surprisingly, has yet to make it's way to these shores, is to introduce umbrella bags to our store entrances.  This initiative has seen success across the ponds, by a number of high-end retailers, in addition to department stores like Macy's and Bloomingdale's.  The concept of an umbrella bag is extremely simple - you put your wet brolly in, what is essentially a long and thin, plastic bag, and in doing so, the excess water is contained to the inside of the bag.  No dripping, no mess.  The design of the bags themselves, fit virtually all sizes of umbrella - compact, golf and everything in between.  Most importantly, it establishes to your customers that their safety is your priority.  It also helps to maintain a puddle-free, clean and welcoming storefront.  Remember first impressions count.  

ABOVE: A video demonstrating a web umbrella bag dispenser in use.

Umbrella bags also offer retailers benefits from a liability perspective.  Customers do from time to time choose to leave their umbrellas at the front of the store to dry, while they go about doing their shopping.  In doing so, there is every chance of it being left behind, misplaced, or worse-still stolen - each of which, the retailer may be held accountable for.  By presenting the customer with a convenient way to carry their wet brolly around the store, it helps alleviate the risk of the aforementioned taking place.

For the environmentally-conscious customers, the bags are reusable and recyclable.

For the retailer, the umbrella bag dispenser is compact, easy for customers to use and cost-efficient  - top of the range, automatic umbrella wrappers, cost under £400, with 6,000 bags, costing £100.

ABOVE: The top of a wet umbrella bag dispenser.

ABOVE: The top of a wet umbrella bag dispenser.

On the face of it, as basic a purpose as the bags serve, they provide a solid solution to a common problem.  Not only that, but they're an innovative way for a retailer to gain a marginal, but important competitive edge, as far as the customer experience is concerned.  If that's not enough of a pull factor, see how much hassle it is carrying round a wet umbrella from store to store, when you're next out shopping on a rainy day in Old Blighty.  You'll soon get pi$$ed off!

Joe Pendlebury AKA "The UX Chap"


Further Reading


Attributions

Where's the Beef? Going Hamburgerless on the Mobile Web

Where's the Beef? Going Hamburgerless on the Mobile Web

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Sephora: Beauty and the CX Beast