How retailers helped create the top-selling iSEE APEX suction cup rack
When it comes to the development of most retail merchandising tools, one of the biggest problems is that because suppliers often provide such displays, they have not historically been developed with retailers at the front of mind.
“Most companies go to meet the needs of the manufacturer—which doesn’t always work the best for the retailer,” said Tony McDaniel, director of marketing for Edinburg, Texas-based La Lomita Inc.
Shortly after the formation of the company in 2010, the iSEE leadership team looked to create a retail-first development process—starting with a classic-but-flawed space solution for the cold vault. Suction cup displays.
The benefits of these tools are simple: they add premium cold space and get products and promotions noticed, an ideal tool for promoting a new product or special.
Unfortunately, the focus has often been more on a lower cost vs. working at retail, meaning many suction cup displays simply aren’t reliable enough to hold beverages on a swinging cooler door. Which causes major headaches at the store level.
“We’re having to run back and clean up a pop that fell down, wipe the cooler door down, or worse, clean up broken glass,” said Kyle Hannawa, owner of Maple Gas. Inc, Birmingham, Mich.
“Many retailers did not trust that the suction cups were reliable and had abandoned this option,” said iSEE’s co-founder and CEO, Joe Vonder Haar.
Though the iSEE team worked with supplier partners on a suction cup display solution, they started first with identifying the needs of retailers. “Once these areas were addressed, the supplier needs were much easier to build into the design,” Vonder Haar said.
From talking with retailers like McDaniel (then with Circle K), the retail “musts” were identified as:
- Racks that actually stayed up
- Easy installation
- No rattling product
- Flexible positioning
- Ability to communicate (and change) pricing and promotions
“The suction cups are amazing,” said McDaniel. “You will pull the glass out of the door before you pull the suction cups off the glass.”
“These are the future, bringing smart technology to the cold vault,” agreed Hannawa. “I’ve seen a real difference in the products that I display in these fixtures. I’m a mom and pop shop so little things like these displays make a big difference.”
But it wasn’t just a win for retailers.
“Our supplier partners were thrilled because it wasn’t just a premium, brandable solution, it was a solution that retailers would actually agree to put up,” Vonder Haar said, pointing to a classic “steak and sizzle” analogy. “The sometimes-mundane functional needs of the retailer to sell products have to come first. The functionality then allows for the exciting sizzle of brand promotion—but without the foundation, the steak, the ‘sizzle’ that suppliers invest heavily in may never make it to the retail floor.”
This retail-first strategy was applied to expand the iSEE Displayloc suction cup line to include over a dozen different suction cup displays, including a hook-free, flexible holder wire option required by McDaniel and Circle K as well as several other vertical options the ensure the least amount of shelf blockage possible.
McDaniel hopes this will be a case study for future development of retail solutions that puts retailers at the forefront.
“Coming to the retailer first allows us to help solve a need the way we need it to solved,” he said. “Listen then build.”