Marketing & Service Secret: Serve the Bag Man

My wife and I took our 16 year-old daughter shopping for a prom dress this past Saturday. Being the father of two teen daughters and the only male in the house, I’m a veteran when it comes to doing "the girl thing". I’ve had sixteen years complete with Disney Princesses, endless giggling sleepover nights, strange emotional mood swings, and late night runs to the store for "female things". I’ve also had sixteen years of being the "bag man" on many a shopping trip. My job – as the dad – is to tag along and bring out the credit card at appropriate moments.

At the first store we visited on Saturday, I encountered two other bag men. The store was filled with teen-age girls and mothers running frantically from dress rack to dress rack. Being a hardened veteran, I ducked my head and entered the fray – only to be pleasantly surprised when it took a mere ten minutes for my wife and daugther to decide there wasn’t a reasonably priced dress in the store in the style my daughter wanted. As we exited the shop, I saw the two other bag men. They stood anxiously by the door with deer-in-the-headlight stares and hands in their pockets (holding credit cards with an iron grip, no doubt). I could only give them a nod of sympathy as I made my escape.

I don’t understand why women’s stores haven’t figured out how to cater – just a little – to the "bag man". How about a couple of chairs, a few old copies of Sports Illustrated, and a small television tuned to March Madness? Keep the bag man distracted and content – and you just might keep the females in the shop longer. The longer the girls stay the more you might sell. The happier the bag man is – the more likely he will be to loosen the purse strings at checkout time.

Great Customer Service (and marketing) includes catering to the bag-man.

Here’s a a short list of female-centered stores where this bag-man has longed for a small chair, a portable television, and an issue of ESPN the magazine:

American Girl Place
The Limited
New York & Company

Anyone listening?

  7 comments for “Marketing & Service Secret: Serve the Bag Man

  1. March 19, 2007 at 10:25 am

    Tom: I would say that Macys is listening… or at least the Macys in the Seattle area are listening. One example: outside of the changing areas in the Bellevue Square location of Macys is a very comfortable bench seat (enough room for 4 or so adults to sit) plus a flat screen television tuned to local television stations (news, sports, etc. playing). Perfect place to wait while others try on endless combinations of the latest styles!

  2. March 19, 2007 at 10:28 am

    Wow! That’s great, KF. Now, if we only had a Macy’s around here 🙂 Glad to know there’s at least one store out there that “gets it”!

  3. March 19, 2007 at 3:51 pm

    Great post, Tom. I think Nordstrom does this as well.
    In the mall near me, it seems to be fairly common and it’s definitely a good idea. Most recently I was in Talbot’s (she went in because there was something in the window and that turned into a 20 minute trip) in my local mall and they had a nice seating area with a few magazines (a car one for me!). There were about four guys sitting there.
    Definitely a good thing to have from a customer service and business perspective.

  4. March 20, 2007 at 9:17 am

    Tom: Von Maur tries this…but the chairs and couch are centered in the store and I’m sure the Bag Men feel like they are on display. Some don’t care as they snore to the piano playing. MPL

  5. March 20, 2007 at 12:37 pm

    You know what’s interesting. It seems like the Department stores make the attempt. Look who you’ve all mentioned – Von Maur, Nordstrom, Macy’s – but the stores I’ve mentioned are the ones that are specifically “female” stores. Douglas mentions Talbots – good for them.

  6. March 23, 2007 at 5:29 pm

    You are soooooooo right!
    BTW, The WestPoint Mill store in New Braunfels, TX (at an outlet mall) has a separate room with a TV, couches and chairs. All they need is a fridge stocked with beer and snacks.

  7. April 2, 2007 at 11:30 am

    Have you read Paco Underhill’s “Why We Buy” or “Call of the Mall”? He talks a lot about how smart malls (and stores) have put comfy chairs in the Women’s sections for the guys who are tagging along w/ wives and girlfriends.
    At my local mall, there’s a bunch of chairs right outside the Limited Too, where my 12 year old and 6 year old daughters like to hang out. This way I can sit, and still keep an eye on them.

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