A few months ago, Web Watch posted a piece on IMPROVING DISNEY SHOPPING where we posted the following:
All Disney has to do is return to making merchandise special. “Plus” the shopping experience again. Cater merchandise to all customers, not just the kids. And remember to market all the characters like they used to do. Not all women want Tinkerbell or Princess merch. Not all men want Grumpy, Goofy, or Big Bad Wolf items. Not everyone wants a T-shirt, baseball cap, boxer shorts, or coffee mug. Give us variety. Give us quality. Give us something other than what you currently are doing.
We then asked an open-ended question to Disney, as to whether they would be smart enough to sell [us] the right stuff…. aside from more duck butt hats, of course.
It looks like someone may have been listening.
This morning, Disney took a step in the right direction by adding theme-park exclusive merchandise to their online Disney Store offerings. You can read what others have to say about it on their sites; here is my take: it’s a step in the right direction, but the plan appears to be half-baked as it currently sits.
As of this writing, the “park exclusive” merchandise consists solely of the following:
- 20 different styles of Mouse Ears (a “Mickey Mouse Ear Hat” in official marketing parlance, or “Mouseket-ears” for you Roy Williams-fans)
- 2 women’s glitter shirts are the only items listed under “Apparel”
- 5 different autograph books
- 6 different autograph pens
- 6 different photo albums/picture frames
- 9 Disney Babies dolls and 2 accessory items
- 4 different park icon-related playsets
- 2 steam train items
- 5 Monorail-related playsets
- 21 different collectibles, featuring the requisite snowglobes, Precious Moments figurines, and Big Figs
- 13 kitchen items, such as dishes and potholders
- 4 mugs
- 2 throw blankets
And that’s it.
No books. No CDs or DVDs. And the lack of adult-oriented character clothing continues to be a gaping hole in their online merchandise offerings. I won’t even bother to mention the continual “application errors” I received when trying to access the site, as that is (I hope) a temporary issue.
The menu on the site is but a tease, offering just a taste of what could be for those who want to spend money on Disney merchandise. I shouldn’t have to call my Orlando- or Anaheim-based friends to have them pick something specific up at the parks for me if I can just order it off the Disney website.
But with just 99 different items to currently choose from, the lack of choice is astonishing. (Again – only 2 items in the Apparel section, and nothing for men or children? And what is shown isn’t character driven, either.)
Disney already has phone numbers that you can call (800-760-3566 or 407-363-6200) to place an order for park merchandise. If they can allow you to order anything that is sold in the parks by phone, they should allow you to purchase anything sold in the parks online as well. And placing an order by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org does not count as “online”.
The parks have thousands upon thousands of different items available for sale that aren’t available anywhere else. While one can understand that Disney’s merchandise department is not setup like Amazon.com with regards to being able to list every single product as available for purchase and shipping (it would be a logistical nightmare, I’m sure) – one would hope that they could have done a better job of selecting their initial 99 items, and that they will be rapidly expanding the available choices to cover items of more interest to those looking for a little bit of in-park shopping at home.
Disney has our attention on this topic, and we see what they want to do. Let’s hope they can execute this and do it right. My Disney Dollars are waiting to have something to be spent on.