US luxury department store Neiman Marcus’s new beauty initiative ShopTheExpo (October 20-21) embraces the trend for expo retailing, as detailed in Beta Blends: Dexterous & Dynamic Store Design. It’s a phenomenon where the insatiable social-media-driven appetite for newness and insider info is fuelling store concepts resembling micro exhibitions or incubators, both temporary and permanent.
The concept has been created in partnership with the Indie Beauty Expo (IBE) – an industry event founded in 2015 to support independent brands and their entrepreneur founders. Hosted at Neiman Marcus’s Dallas flagship, the two-day event will give consumers access to 15 little-known but potentially cult beauty brands from all over the globe. Shoppers will also be able to meet the founders, catering to consumers’ increasing desire for more candid brand connections (see Exploiting Insider Access and Intimate, Democratic & Inclusive: New Brand Spaces).
While the indie beauty segment is growing swiftly, it still only accounts for 10% of US beauty spending, according to IBE’s co-founder Nader Naeymi-Rad. This way, IBE and its chosen15 get to enjoy big-brand exposure without sacrificing their ‘outsider’ status, while Neiman Marcus can revel in the credibility of associating with less predictable brands.
The genesis of the concept, which taps into a booming appetite for under-the-radar beauty and fragrance (see Indie Beauty Trends 2017), can be traced back to the B2C Retail Trade Show Trend, where industry-only events began opening to the public. The full list of participating brands is available here.
See also Beauty Flagships.
British fashion industry publication Drapers’ Fashion Forum took place last week (October 12). Focusing on bringing the in-store experience into the home, the allure of ‘live commerce’ and new ways to empower staff, we highlight key tactics revealed by three major brands.
British cosmetics brand Lush is exploring ways to reboot both its physical stores and out-of-shop services for digitally savvy consumers. Mike West, Lush’s finance business partner, discussed how it’s working with Google on developing smart shops.
For more on using direct image recognition in-store, see Amazon Go’s Checkout-Free Stores.
For more on the growth of IoT-enabled retail services, see Wraparound Retail: IoT-Enabled Engagement.
Mei Chen, international business development lead at Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, outlined the latest stats on the growing Chinese market, as well as its accompanying strategies.
British luxury fashion e-tailer Matches outlined its approach to customer experience, with a focus on staff training as well as providing a smooth phygital experience.
Held in Amsterdam on October 5-6, the Shopper Brain Conference revealed some fascinatingly counterintuitive consumer insights. Unexpected emotional triggers, making things harder to boost engagement alongside brand perception, and the best ways to use scent, were among the key themes. We spotlight the top tactics.
Speakers acknowledged that consumers love brands that make things easy for them when ‘mission’ shopping. However, in the instant-gratification era, having to make an effort is increasingly accompanied by the perception of an elevated brand experience.
Emotional brand-consumer connections are crucial to creating lasting bonds. However, several speakers highlighted how retailers are frequently missing the mark – because the triggers that work aren’t always the ones that are expected.
The importance of engaging multiple senses to boost the intensity of an experience (and positive reactions to it) is well documented. But it was scent – the least-explored sense to date in commercial terms – which was speakers’ key focus.
With consumers increasingly responsive to the reassurance of trying products pre-purchase (see Contextual Commerce), the ongoing trend for selling within domestic settings continues apace. The latest and most extravagant example comes from British department store John Lewis, which has established a pop-up apartment in its London Oxford Street flagship, inviting visitors to sleep over or host 10-person dinner parties, free of charge.
Called The Residence, the open-plan apartment features a fully stocked kitchen, living and dining area, bedroom, indoor terrace and office equipped with relevant products. All are available to buy on the day (or night). To purchase, concierges help to locate products in store or guests complete the process themselves using iPads.
Participants are chosen at random after applying via in-store concierge teams.
Overnight guests choose not only the bedding, bedside table and robes they want for the space but also the books, newspapers, beauty products and even the items in their breakfast hamper the next morning. Similarly, dinner party hosts select the tableware and dishes, with food and cocktails then prepared on site by a private chef and mixologist. Five groups will test each concept.
Participants receive an additional hour-long after-hours shopping experience with a personal shopper.
While the flagship concept gives a full-spectrum taste of the brand’s entire proposition (food, fashion, beauty, homeware, technology etc.), truncated versions have also popped up in its Cambridge and Liverpool locations (UK), hosting a two-hour brunch for six people.
The concept, which echoes that of Ikea’s Warsaw apartment (see our blog), runs until October 18.
See also The Rise of the Shoppable Apartment.
Two UK department stores have recently launched pop-ups that seek to push beyond promoting products or even the brands behind the spaces. Instead, they’re making grander social statements – reframing the purpose of transient brand spaces in the process.
Brand new British software platform Shoesie is aiming to make footwear customisation such as that seen at NikeID or Australian label Shoes of Prey a realistic proposition for brands unable to invest in expensive proprietary tech or internal resources.
The software, which launches today in tandem with Japanese sustainable footwear brand Po-Zu, is designed to deliver an easy-to-integrate solution for any e-tailer. It allows consumers to change the colour or material of component parts of the shoe (ie. the sole or the tongue) depending on the options the brand has enabled.
Giving brands entry-level access to the customisation phenomenon, there’s also an opportunity to add embroidered initials or letters to some parts of the shoe – with fulfilment in that instance only requiring a minimal change to stock products, not the overhaul of entire designs.
The accompanying digital dashboard supplied to brands also offers significant rewards by shining a starker spotlight on consumer behaviours. Every single interaction is logged.
“This is likely to create enhanced design decisions, better stock allocation and the data we’ll be getting from multiple brands will give insight on consumer demand and trends across a broad range of footwear,” says Shoesie co-founder Simeon Bird.
With the global footwear market set to grow at a rate of almost 2% between 2017-2021 (Research & Markets, 2017), such concepts provide a major opportunity to make headway in the sector.
Tapping into the increasingly lucrative phenomenon of ‘live commerce’ (see Reflexive Retail: Live, Emotional and On-Demand, part of our Liquid Retail Industry Trend), independent artisanal Dutch cheese shop Kaan’s Kaashandel has launched a live-stream store in Alkmaar, the Netherlands.
The technology, which is being trialled for five days via the brand’s website, effectively brings online consumers into the bustling store and allows them to converse with assistants and buy cheese, as if they were there in person.
Clicking on a designated icon enables customers to type a question into the live chat box, with staff then able to respond by talking to an in-store camera, providing advice on things such as taste or recipes. On-screen information about any of the cheeses on the counter is available by hovering a cursor over them during the live stream.
To purchase a cheese on display, customers simply click on it on screen to add it to their basket, before going through e-checkout as usual. They can then watch store staff prepare their order for them (see also Intimate, Democratic & Inclusive: New Brand Spaces).
Dutch bank ABN AMRO is sponsoring the trial, which is designed to see what increased online visibility and service does for the store’s sales and engagement rates.
The project channels a growing demand for live and real-time e-experiences. Consumers increasingly want their questions answered on the spot: 63% of global consumers say they are more likely to return to a site that offers live chat (Skilled, 2016), but which still has the atmosphere and service associated with in-store shopping.
UK healthy restaurant and delivery company The Detox Kitchen has collaborated with London-based nutritionist and food influencer Amelia Freer to launch a meal-delivery service for busy new mums called Mama.
For £39.95 ($54) per day, new and breastfeeding mothers will receive a meal box containing foods rich in nutrients such as iron, magnesium and zinc – which are typically low in post-birth mums.
The daily package includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and juices. Dishes include spinach and butter-bean dip with carrot crudités, and king prawns with coconut dhal and broccoli rice. Juices include beetroot, ginger, celery and apple. Subscribers can also add a meal for their partner for added convenience.
Detox Kitchen co-founder Lily Simpson was inspired to create the Mama home delivery service after discovering the mixed nutritional messages mums often receive after childbirth.
This package is a key example of how brands are recognising the potential of targeting new mums with a more integrated and holistic approach to self-care, as recently discussed in Natal Nutrition: Fertility to First Foods. See also Retail Concepts Nurturing New Parents, Marketing to New Parents and Bringing Up Baby: Beauty's Essential Role.
Speaking at this year’s edition of the International Retail Design Conference (see our full coverage here), cult US fitness brand SoulCycle discussed strategies for success transferrable to retailers. Acknowledging the shift towards an experientially led economy and the value of ultra-supportive staffing systems, here are its four key guidelines.
SoulCycle’s studios are designed by Californian agency Retail Design Collaborative.
This year’s Internet Retailing Conference, taking place in London on October 5, is set to tackle best practice and future strategies for successful e-commerce. A host of brands, experts and tech providers will discuss topics including consumer profiling innovations, future-scoping international retailing, and seducing next-gen shoppers.
The event will be split across four core areas: Analyse & Conquer, Adapt & Expand, Create & Innovate and Stand Up & Deliver. Here’s what’s on the horizon:
Stylus' head of Retail, Katie Baron, will also be presenting our brand new Industry Trend Liquid Retail for the first time in public (use the code STYLUS on booking to receive a 15% discount).
Spotlighting the growing importance of live, conversational and more intuitive forms of real-time commerce, UK trade publication Retail Week’s inaugural Tech conference took place in London last week (September 13-14). Tackling both here-and-now and futuristic concepts driven by artificial intelligence (AI), key developments include the prospect of brain-controlled interfaces and robots. Here are the highlights.
US payment processing tech company Square is strengthening its relationship with growing businesses by giving its relatively intangible services a physical touchpoint: a support-centric showroom in SoHo, New York.
Called Square Showroom, the ‘store’ lets customers test new hardware and software products in an intimate setting alongside company representatives. Additionally, it provides on-site training, demonstrations and troubleshooting for specific products, plus one-on-one brand consultations to help prospective clients determine which payment solutions (both online and offline) best suit their needs.
It will also host sponsored events and business workshops to witness first-hand how retailers use its products, facilitating more comprehensive R&D (for more on this, see Intimate, Democratic & Inclusive and our forthcoming report Beta Blends: Dynamic & Dexterous Design, publishing September 25), while testing the waters for further showrooms.
Adding contextual weight to the concept, the flagship also carries a curated selection of products from eight partnered businesses – brands presently using Square, such as independent jewellery makers and product designers – which will be updated monthly. It’s open by appointment only on weekdays, and to the public on weekends.
It’s not the only concept to translate an entirely online experience into the physical realm this month. Japanese messaging app Line has opened a toy store called Line Friends in New York’s Times Square to promote the brand’s emoji-like characters and establish its presence in the US market.
For more on the value of brands providing greater support systems for consumers, see Purchasing Peace of Mind in The Supportive Sell.
US jewellery brand Tiffany & Co. has jumped into the growing pool of brands taking a socially active stance by launching an international artists support programme Outset, which is kicking off in London.
Seven London artists (all MA graduates from major London colleges) will receive rent-free studio space and may get an opportunity to work with Tiffany on pieces for its London stores. The move responds to London becoming prohibitively expensive for young artists to live and work in, despite its heritage as a hub for experimental creative talent.
“London is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in. There’s a big disconnect between the cost of living and being an artist here,” said Richard Moore, Tiffany’s British-born vice-president and creative director of store design and visual merchandising.
Moore inferred that more arts-backing initiatives are to come, continuing a core brand legacy. Louis Comfort Tiffany, the brand’s inaugural design director (1902), was a leader of the Art Nouveau movement, while in the 1950s its head of design, Gene Moore, commissioned then-fledgling artists Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg to create window displays. Tiffany also sponsored the 2017 Whitney Biennial, spotlighting contemporary American artists.
Beyond illustrating brand generosity and artistic legacy, Outset also highlights Tiffany’s ongoing rebrand, from stalwart of the traditional jewellery scene to modern label. See Tiffany & Co. Rebrands Via Pop-Up and Same-Sex Tiffany Ad Fuels Rebrand.
See also Jewellery Retail’s New Horizons.
Danish toy giant Lego is epitomising the rising trend for store HQs – brand hubs that blend internal practice with fan culture – with the impending launch (September 28) of its play-centric Lego House experience centre at its headquarters in Billund, Denmark.
Designed by acclaimed Danish architects Bjarke Ingels Group, the multi-storey complex is a very literal visual manifestation of the brand – comprised of a stacking configuration of 21 white brick-like spaces with primary coloured tops.
Echoing Adidas’ Runbase Berlin space (see Membership & Tiered Retailing), much of the venue requires tickets (€20/$24). These give guests access to six experience zones focused on four key play-focused learning competences: creative, social, emotional and cognitive.
The first floor’s Red Zone deals in creativity, with expert-led creative labs that encourage fans to submit product ideas (see Intimate, Democratic & Inclusive). The Green Zone is focused on social activity, allowing fans to co-direct films populated by Lego characters. In the Blue Zone, cognitive abilities are stimulated – with visitors able to engineer cities and robots. Emotions take centre stage in the Yellow Zone, prompting kids to scan Lego brick fish creations (devised to elicit a sense of empathy) and follow them in a digital fish tank.
Visitors without a ticket can still get involved, accessing outdoor playgrounds on nine staggered terraces, viewing fan-built Lego ‘masterpieces’ in the top floor gallery, or visiting the ground floor’s store, three restaurants, events atrium and 2,000 sq m public square.
Lego expects approximately 250,000 guests per year.
See also Kids-Centric Commerce and Beta Blends: Dynamic & Dexterous Design, publishing September 25.
The Shopper Brain Conference, to be held in Amsterdam from October 5-6 2017, promises to explore the intersection between retail and consumer-centric neuroscience. Topics will include the hidden psychological drivers behind purchasing behaviour in a digitised, multichannel era, and the best ways to build emotional attachment.
Here are some of our most anticipated sessions:
Full coverage will be published on October 16.