Assignment #3


My subcategory.....

wait for it.

Is Holiday Retail Environments!


The first part of this assignment was to ask. ASK!
So I interviewed 3 different people:

1. My friend Tyler who doesn't do a whole lot of shopping in stores during the holiday season (compared to my other interview subjects).

2. My mom who, although we're not supposed to interview family, I thought would be a great resource because she has young kids to shop for still and has a completely different take on shopping than early adults.

3. My friend Kari who works in retail at the Mall of America. She does a lot of shopping for small trinkets for friends, as well as I thought would have an interesting opinion on the matter because she's seen both sides of the shopping experience.

I tried to tailor the interview questions to each person. So for Tyler I tried to ask questions that related to more of what he thinks of holiday shopping in general.
While for my mom I asked questions that dealt more with the annoyances or stresses of shopping (while not trying to load the questions).

Questions I asked each of the participants

Do you do much shopping around the holidays?
Where do you do most of your holiday shopping?
When I say "shopping for the holidays," what do you think of?
Do you have any comments about the shopping environment?
If you could invent one item to make shopping easier, what would it be?

His interview was interesting. While the questions were a little more broad, his answers told a lot. When asked about the product, he suggested that,

"...each customer should be given a bar code scanner upon entry, and you scan everything you put in your cart. That way when you checkout, you just hand them the gun and pay for what you bought."

With this suggestion he shows that he thinks checkout lines take too much time. Speed appeared to be his main concern, because he frequently mentioned the division between "down to the point" shoppers and "lollygaggers." As well as his disgust for the latter.

Where do you usually shop for the holidays?
What do you think of the shopping environment?
What are some troubles with shopping, if any?
What would make Christmas shopping easier?
How does holiday shopping feel?

Her perspective of shopping is that it's stressful and time consuming. She mentioned the amount of times she would have to run to the stores and how many stores she'd have to go to. She mainly shops by seeing an item in the paper or catalogue (or if my brother and sister pick out an item), then going to to store to get that specific item. Sometimes it's hard to find that one specific thing though in the actual store.

What comes to mind when I say "holiday shopping?"
Who do you shop for?
Do you have any comments about the shopping environment?
What would make shopping easier?

Kari's answers were interesting, because they related to her pre-existing shopping knowledge. She commented mainly (or complained, rather) about the actual environment when shopping, while most people talked about the shopping process. Her main focus was on how crowded it is because the aisles are too narrow and there's too many people with carts and bags.

The other parts of this assignment were to observe and experience.

I went to Target and tried to not-so-creepily observe some people shopping. I'm not quite sure how my results are applicable though, because it wasn't the type of heavy shopping that goes on right near the deadline. People seemed to be in no rush necessarily, just looking at some of the Thanksgiving decorations and cheap candy.

Experiencing didn't really yield any breakthrough results. The carts were a little dumb to maneuver when turning or leaving to pick up items. Other than that the only real thing I noticed was the time it took to checkout.

I've concluded that there needs to be a better way to easily maneuver through aisles while shopping because of crowdedness, as well as there needs to be a faster method of checking out once you have your items. These two things I feel will cut down on the time spent shopping the most.


I want to start off by saying that your sub-theme might be a little 'harder' to observe(since its not really the holiday season..) but I still think you can do a great job in your research. Seems to me that you interviews 3 people who you knew very well. I think that it would have been more beneficial to interview outside of your comfort zone (aka people you don't know/not family and friends). That way you can get a much different perspective. I would suggest interviewing some big retail store managers/team leads.
Also, your idea of tailoring the questions per interview is hard to do without 'leading' them, but I think you did a good job with the questions. Were those all the questions for each interview? I would suggest maybe adding more questions to gain more perspective.
Finally, I believe we were supposed to state two problem statements in the manner we did in class. You kind of mentioned your these in the conclusion but did not make them very apparent.

Hi Mac,

I think that the topic of Holiday Retail Environments is one that has many opportunities for research/improvement. That being said, I think you could have pushed yourself a bit more with the people you selected to interview. It seemed like you had a bit too much background knowledge already about their shopping habits which influenced the questions you asked them. It would have been interesting to get the point of view from a shop keeper or sales associate who works during the holiday season. Also, thinking about how holiday shopping is difficult for college students could have been an interesting area to focus on. I didn't get a sense of what problems exist within the "environment" of holiday shopping so much as the act of shopping itself. Perhaps for research you could have looked up articles about holiday retail environments/experiences in the past and projections for the future. This article, for example, lists trends in retail environments for the upcoming holiday season. Some images from your Target experience may have been useful as well. I know that Target and many other retail stores have already started putting out Christmas/Hanukkah decor and related items. Your problem statement could be more effective by using the format "So and so, needs a way to________, because_________ and separating the issues you found into two separate statements. I think the areas that need change that you've decided to focus on are spot on.

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This page contains a single entry by wilmk035 published on November 10, 2013 11:27 PM.

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