Cross Crosses Over
Pen company's first retail locations are life size
Most mall shoppers wait for an idea to strike they're
searching for an impulse buy, a good sale or the perfect gift.
To fuel consumers imaginations, A.T. Cross Co., the Lincoln,
RI, manufacturer of Cross writing instruments, began a trial
mall kiosk program in June, its first venture into direct retail.
Cross opened 9 by 12 ft. kiosks in malls in Peabody,
MA; North Attleboro, MA; Waterford, CT; Cincinnati, OH; and Edina,
"The kiosk program is like an advertisement," says
Bruce Willox, Cross' director of marketing. "We wanted to
take advantage of the traffic flow of malls and gauge the impact
we're making with consumers. With kiosks, we can let people experience
our products on an impulse basis." The kiosks may spark
an idea among consumers who didn't originally intend a pen shop
or pen counter as their destination, Willox says.
The kiosks offer Cross' complete selection of merchandise
so customers can see the latest introductions. They're also interactive
a TV runs a continuous product video to grab the attention
of mall walkers, who can stop to try out the pens. "A lot
of people will be writing with fountain pens for the first time;
we hope to turn them on to the idea of writing with a special
pen that suits their tastes," says Willox.
Cross pigeonholed the role of the kiosks to accommodate the
retailers it already supplies. Customers can't walk away with
the pens they choose at the kiosks; Cross will ship the pens
to customers, offering free gift wrap and cards. However, if
a customer wants to receive the pen the same day, kiosk staffers
will point him or her to retail stores in the mall that carry
the selected item and offer a $5 rebate as an incentive to shop
at those stores. This way, Willox says, the kiosks are grabbing
the attention, but the other stores are making the sales.
by Stacey King
Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.