By Claire Reilly

When Big W opened the doors on its new store in Canberra last month, the brand took the opportunity to showcase a new store format to consumers. Known in planning stages as the Mark 9 store format, Big W director Julie Coates billed it as the “newest iteration” of Big W’s footprint.

Coates spoke exclusively told about the changes Big W has made, the new layout and what it would bring to consumers.

“We used to have a permanent wall in the middle of the store, but these walls are all flexible, so the store space is much more flexible. We’ve really opened up the store. The other thing is we’ve taken the fitting room out of the centre of the store and put it in the corner of the store, so it’s really opened it up, and you get that feel when you come into the store that it somehow just feels like it’s all open.

“The other thing is the blues around the store are much softer, much more female blues more in line with our customer. Where we’ve been before is that very dark navy, so we’ve really lifted it up.”

“We’ve put a real value statement on wall near the entrance – we’ve really made that a bulk merchandising, key price-point offer. So when people come into Big W and ask what Big W is all about, it’s about value. That’s really important.”

The focus on value can be found throughout the store, including in the consumer electronics department, where extra space has been made for fast-moving accessories like headphones and mobile phone covers.

“We really specialise in the accessories business,” said Coates. “We have a fantastic attachment rate on iPods and iPads, we sell a lot of headphones and we have a really good iTunes business. So we really are more in the accessories business than in just the hardware of consumer electronics. And you can see the space we give to it.

“People know that for accessories, we are the best price in the market.

“We’ve also changed the space we allocate to TVs and we’ve changed the way you buy them as a customer," added Coates, describing the revised layout in the CE department.  So as a customer you can look at this key price-point wall – from $98 to $328 – and you can actually grab and go.
“If you know what you want, you know what sized TV you want and what configuration you want, you can come and look at the TVs which we have out on display for you, and you don’t need any service."

Speaking about the main changes that Big W’s average “mum with kids” customer would see in the new store format, Coates said, “She’s going to see is a fantastic range of accessories and a place where it is really easy to shop.”

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