In our first special report on retail, KidScreen assigned four reporters in four different U.S. centers-New Jersey, Chicago, Los Angeles and Tucson-to examine and rate the merchandising of children’s interactive software and videos. They looked at everything from customer service to in-store displays to the way companies were branding their products at the retail level. We included major chains and small independent stores, computer specialty shops and bookstores.
Target, Tucson, Arizona
Target, the large discount department store, has an electronics department that carries software, but a shopping trip to the software section of Target should not take very long.
Tacked on to the end of three aisles containing phones and other electronic equipment are the shelves displaying software at a Tucson, Arizona, location. Grouped together on the shelves under a sign reading ‘Entertainment’ are 29 software titles, under the ‘Education’ banner are 23 (22 if you don’t count Skyborg: Into the Vortex, which was in the ‘Education’ section for some reason). There is also a category for ‘Home/Office’ software that compares in size to the entertainment and educational categories.
The sales staff at this location are very friendly, but a conversation about the software titles was peppered with ‘I’m not sure’ and ‘I think so’ and ‘I’ve never seen this played’ and ‘What d’es it say on the package?’ and ‘I’ve never tried it, so I don’t know.’ For answers to questions about any of the software for sale at Target, either read the package or go to a specialty software store and ask the people there.
The prices at Target are comparable to software specialty stores-a few are a little more expensive, but all are within $5 of each other. The salesperson at Target said that occasionally a few select titles may go on sale, but he wasn’t sure which ones or when. A particularly unattractive display offered a selection of unknown titles for $9.99. A special trip to Target to shop for software is not advised unless there is an advertised sale on a product of interest.
Target has a hard time competing against specialty stores, but it is nice to have the option of tossing a computer program into the shopping basket along with toiletries and clothing.
The software department at Target rates a four out of 10. No make that five out of 10: the extra point is for the staff there, who are doing their best.