Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Barbie Flagshop in Shanghai – A Total Disappointment (updated with conclusion – 28 April)

Finally I took the chance to visit Barbie’s Flag shop in Shanghai last week. It has 6 floors in total. To be honest, it is totally disappointed shopping experience to me. Although I have never seen so many Barbies in one single shop before, the whole store’s display, atmosphere and the shopping experience are definitely not up to my low expectation, nor what it should be for a “flagshop”!

Firstly, the lobby is big but totally empty. There is an information counter on the left but nobody really greets you or cares about you when you are looking for the information there. They called it the “Dream Lobby”….Yea, it is a it is named - the reception and security there are day dreaming!!

Secondly, when I tried to take a picture of one of the displays on the 2nd floor where is just above the escalator, one sale girl came to stop me rudely and said “No picture!”. However, when I walked inside further, everyone is taking pictures here and there.


Thirdly, there are many Barbies being displayed but I do not see any particular themes except the “national costume” corner. So, I would have to jumping here and there and look for the Barbie that may interested me.

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Fourthly, there are various functional areas, such as Barbie Cafe, Fashion Runway, Spa, and Design Center. But I would say the ambiences are totally not right and with no proper lighting or music. Proper assistance is not available. I don’t particular feel like in a Barbie shop (not to mention a flagshop) but more like in a local department store.

  • Spa: I don’t see what kind of services you could get from the Spa at all. Just cosmetic for adult? The staffs are chit chatting themselves all the time I was around.
  • Cafe: The Cafe was empty. The only decoration is a frame on the wall with some Barbies in Pink. The flooring is in black theme. The color scheme does not match with the display.
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  • Fashion Runway: It has no music, no special spot lights but with 2-3 Barbies with messy hair being put on a few blocks. I guess nobody really know what that area is for. No particular notice on function time, if any.
  • Design Center: The only acceptable area that I quite like is the Design Center. It has a few illustrations displayed and has a big table with cloth, cosmetic and Barbies for the kids to make their own OOAK. However, there is no attendant around to guide or assist the children there. Therefore, it has become a playground for children to messy the dolls.
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  • Big Bargain Sales: Probably the only good thing there is the big bargain available. The Lyre Byron Baribe in denim outfit is 75% off. And a Chinese Queen is 50% off.
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Fifthly, although the staffs there are all youngsters, I do not see any passion of them towards Barbie or even dolls. Typical mainland Chinese care free manner - Chit chatting by themseleves and have no service mind, emotionless and stand there like a piece of wood. When I asked for information, none of them show any passion on giving out information or showing their job/Barbie knowledge. They should really be fired, or at least sent to re-training for product knowledge and be motivated.

Mattel, missing the Golden Opportunity – World Expo

World Expo starts from 1st May and would last for 6 months. Millions of visitors from all over the world would flock into Shanghai for this extravaganza. What a waste of such once-in-a-life-time golden opportunity in impressing the world and getting handsome amount of revenue which probably never come twice again!!  You real customers are adults, not only children.  There are many much better design, higher quality dolls in the market, Mattel should rebrand itself, build its brand loyalty find the right market positioning.

Mattel, if you are reading this article, look for me as your consultant!  If I were the responsible person of this Barbie Flag shop, I am sure I could make it much fun for collectors and doll lovers, and much more Barbie!!

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Picture credit: Cliff Chan

All rights reserved. Please don’t use any write up or pictures without prior writing for permission


smidge girl said...

Thank you for such a wonderful, thorough look at this store! It's funny, because I'd seen a couple of photos in promo articles, and my first thought was always, It looks so empty!

I completely agree with you, this looks so disappointing-- almost like it isn't ready to be opened yet! The cafe looks especially sad. I know a lot of people will just gobble up anything barbie, and think it's wonderful, but why not make this shop the best it can be?

There must be so many people who would just die to work at a place like this. It's terrible that they just hire anybodies like this is an ordinary department store. It's also pretty confusing that they rope off certain things, but let the kids run around and play with the toys. Hmm.

Well, Maybe Mattel will read your article and fix it up ;)! Thanks again for such an honest review, this was a wonderful post!

Cliff - Hong Kong said...

Smidge Girl,

Thank you so much for dropping by and leaving me a great comment here!

What a big pity, isn't it? Even for the official press releases pictures were taken without passion, how could this store be a good one!

I remembered a Disney Store in town (now only airport has one)before, the staff there were trained with product knowledge and "tried" to be passionate when they were assisting customers. Even thought some of their Disney knowledge could not beat a once-devoted Disney fan like me, but at least they tired hard, and I really appreciated it! It made the whole shopping experience a wonderful one. And your money slipped out from your wallet happily!


CrazyBanana said...

Hmmmm... I actually thought from the pics it looked pretty good!!! but I guess it could be much better..

and the employees..-sigh- I know how that can be

but the place has potential!

Cliff - Hong Kong said...

CrazyBanana: Yes, the place has potential especially it is located in the prime location of Shanghai! They need someone who has better marketing sense and a doll lover, if not a Barbie lover, to redo everything for them again. If you look at the pictures, there is no particular theme or atmosphere that could made you feel like in the dreamy world of Barbie!

CrazyBanana said...

true that,
and im just wondering, did locals like it or did they also find it disappointing?
I would love to have been there, just because we have nothing like that where I live, but you compared it to disney stores and I see why this is not to the standards of a name like Barbie

Cliff - Hong Kong said...

I would also love to know what would be the responde of the local...but it has to be feeback from Barbie fans or doll lovers there! Only collectors know what it should be like.

Meanwhile, I would like to point out that Barbie culture is from USA, in another word, from the West. Asian are not grew up with it, not to mention those mainland Chinese people! They would probably treat as just one of those playline dolls!

I think they should also have a "museum" session displaying some vintage dolls and let new comers learn the evoluation of Barbies and what influnced the design and also what influence Barbie has been bringing to the dolly community! New comers would find it interesting and amuzing and then evoke the desire of collections, then started to look for what they want from the store. Doll lovers or Barbie fans would feel nostalgia by revisiting the evolution of Barbie world!

It would be more meaningful for collection if there is a history and stories behind!