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October 1999


Cross Crosses Over

Pen company's first retail locations are life– size ads

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, MN.

"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.


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