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A first in the competitive stuff-your-own teddy bear industry

clock December 9, 2007 11:45 by author JKealey

We have just released a new feature on the Teddy Mountain Stuff-Your-Own Teddy Bear Website which we believe is an industry first. Teddy Mountain sees itself as the most innovative teddy bear franchise and they use LavaBlast's technology for both their supporting infrastructure and client facing applications.
We've done a number of industry-specific solutions for this franchisor:

  • Interactive Kiosk with webcam and touch screen to create your own teddy bear adoption certificate.
  • Point of Sale: Integrated with the kiosk, our point of sale is easy to use and reduces training costs.
  • Website: Online sales via an e-commerce engine with a few teddy bear industry-specific features.
  • FranchiseBlast: Our centralized management and collaboration portal which ties everything together, providing a single environment to modify the product line, store pricing, collaborate with others, share documents, view reports, etc.



Today, we augmented the integration between the points of sales distributed across the world and the Teddy Mountain website.  We are now allowing members of the frequent buyer program to view adoption certificates they have created in brick and mortar stores…. online! Simply put, existing PaLS members from a select number of stores are able to see their frequent buyer card balance and birth certificate history on the Teddy Mountain website. We think that no other franchisor in the teddy bear industry has done anything similar and are proud to see Teddy Mountain lead the way. Of course, for privacy concerns, only those who sign-up for the program will have their pictures made available online to distribute to their friends and family.

We feel that, in the long term, this feature will improve gift card sales from out-of-town family members as the donor can receive visual feedback from the recipient, via the Internet.

If the feature attracts some interest, we are open to implementing new features such as integration with FaceBook or using Google's OpenSocial API. We shall also add features such as emailing certificates to friends/family with a greeting.



Have a unique selling proposition

clock October 1, 2007 16:37 by author EtienneT

If you are in the retail industry, chances are that you probably already know that you have to have a unique selling proposition to offer your clients.  But hey, what’s a unique selling proposition?  In the book Reality in Advertising, author Rosser Reeves defines a unique selling proposition (USP) as:

1. Each advertisement must make a proposition to the customer: "buy this product, and you will get this specific benefit."
2. The proposition itself must be unique - something that competitors do not, or will not, offer.
3. The proposition must be strong enough to pull new customers to the product. 

A franchisor needs to have something that will make its stores shine apart from the competition. As an example, let us discuss Teddy Mountain, one of our first clients here at LavaBlast. Teddy Mountain is a stuff-your-own teddy bear type of store. Stuffed animals have been around for years and are available it countless locations.  Some stores offer dirt cheap stuffed animals while others brand the bear with a particular tourist attraction such as the Eiffel Tower. Retailers in the stuff-your-own teddy bear industry sell more than just a physical teddy bear, they sell an experience and their selling proposition revolves around this custom-creation experience.

Teddy Mountain wanted to offer something more personal to the client to complement the experience.  They decided to offer birth certificates for each teddy bear they sell.  Simple idea, but this creates a strong bond between a child and their new teddy bear.  A picture of the child with their new friend would be taken and would be printed at the counter when the teddy bear was paid for.  One could think that this simple concept is insufficient to pull new customers to the product, yet in-store behavior has proven otherwise. Children are drawn towards the camera feed presented on the kiosk and often want to purchase a bear simply to get their picture taken.

The picture here shows the in-store kiosk being used by some children.  This kiosk has two screens with two webcams and prints in the color laser printer at the cash register.  The kiosk must be simple to operate because it is used mainly by children.   This is fairly simple software and other stores also produce certificates, but the kiosk appearance (touch screen interface, webcam, three-dimensional fixtures done by Studio Y Creations) adds to the child’s in-store experience and puts Teddy Mountain in a unique position.  Because we’ve integrated the certificate with the point of sale, the employees don’t have much overhead to deal with.  Coming up in the near future are many new features on the website that link the in-store experience with the online one, refining the brand’s uniqueness.

Teddy Mountain operates in an industry which is dominated by a giant and software alone cannot be the only unique selling proposition. Teddy Mountain experience is enriched by large-scale three-dimensional fixtures that attract children from the mall inside the store. These fixtures put a little bit of magic in the shopping experience and illuminate child birthday parties. There are other refinements that define Teddy Mountain; having a clear unique selling proposition is key to increasing sales but also to attract new franchise prospects. However, since our goal is to illustrate how LavaBlast is a piece of the puzzle, as opposed to selling you a franchise, we won’t go into more detail.



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Disclaimer

The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in anyway.

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