Australian Geographic charts store expansion

Aust Nat GeoAustralian Geographic plans to ensure it has dotted the map of Australia with a grand total of 90 stores within the next two years.

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Heading into the Christmas 2015 peak season, Australian Geographic will be operating 65 stores across all states (excluding the Northern Territory), in addition to its online presence.

Australian Geographic opened no less than five stores in the week commencing August 24 and plans to have a further eight stores ready for its Christmas campaign in November. This will take its total store tally to 65.

No offshore expansions are planned at this stage, but Claire Robertson, marketing manager of Australian Geographic and Bobble Art, told Inside Retail Weekly that, “our goal for 2016 is a further steady expansion of stores”.

Robertson’s retail group also owns the retail trading rights to Bobble Art, which has seven stores across NSW, Victoria and Queensland, and an online store at Bobbleart.com.au, lifting her total store count to 72, plus two e-shops across the two brands.

In August, Australian Geographic launched new stores in Miranda (NSW), Belconnen (ACT), Werribee (Victoria), Marion (South Australia) and North Lakes (Queensland). By November, further new stores will be up and running in Loganholme, Brisbane’s QueensPlaza, Morayfield, and Springfield in Queensland, and in Morley, Midland and Cockburn in Western Australia, as well as one store in Warriewood, NSW.

Commenting on bringing maximum exposure to new store openings, Robertson said, “It’s about creating an instore experience and event in store, as well as utilising social media and centre advertising to hype up our product demonstrations in store, roaming friendly mascots and gifts with purchases. The aim is to provide a lasting impression and shopping experience for customers.”

Australian Geographic’s target demographic is families buying gifts for ages three to 93 with interests in anything and everything.

“We promote our new products in ‘Frogalogues’ – catalogues that are distributed instore and to homes at key periods,” Robertson said. “We also run competitions instore and send EDMs to our loyal and repeat customer base. Our social media presence through Facebook and Instagram is gaining momentum by offering interesting and amusing content to educate and communicate.”

Bobble Art

Quality & quirky
Robertson said Australian Geographic’s unique selling proposition is its instore experience and the variety of products that could be the perfect gift solution for anybody and everybody – “quality, quirky and value added products that encourage learning and discovery”, is how Robertson puts it.

“Our buying team are constantly looking for innovative products that will spark imagination and learning in the recipient,” she explained. “Our store team are fun and engaged in our products, while delivering a personal and friendly shopping experience.

“We recruit our team based on an attitude that fits our culture and beliefs. We can teach people the operations of a store, but we can’t teach them attitude. We are all about creating a unique and memorable experience for our customers through demonstrating products and allowing our customers to explore and discover our products.

“We are often able to offer a personal shopping experience to help choose a gift based on the recipients interests, tastes and quirks. Our team is engaged in our products and takes time to understand the intricacies and technical aspects of our vast range spanning multiple categories.”

Robertson noted that over the years, Australian Geographic has refined its store layout to provide a flexible fit out to enable the flex of stock to cater for peak sales periods in November and December.

“This also allows us to re-merchandise during less stock periods to then cater for demonstration areas and activities in stores. It’s all about creating an experience and flow to enable customers to shop the store and discover unique and interesting products. We constantly promote theatre instore and actively encourage customers to pick up and play.”

The group’s website is at shop.australiangeographic.com.au and Robertson’s digital communication plan is aligned with and runs seamlessly across instore marketing strategies.

“We change our marketing campaigns every three weeks, on average, to ensure a rotation through our categories to keep our stores fresh and inviting, enabling our customers to discover new, unique and intriguing products,” said Robertson. “They are able to shop online, purchase instore and even order instore and have shipped to their home for selected items.”

Australian Geographic journal tie-in
The retail side’s close relationship with the Australian Geographic journal and society are also used as a marketing message.

“Customers purchasing a subscription to the journal benefit from instore discounts on future purchases from any Australian Geographic store or online,” she said.

“We also take out advertisements and inserts in the journal and co-op with advertising on EDMs and website real estate. In addition, we raise awareness to Fur, Fin and Feather wildlife projects by raising funds through donations for endangered Australian species. 100 per cent of all donations are sent directly to the project the society is supporting and is rotated on a two monthly basis.”

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