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L’Occitane ups technology in New York City flagship

BY Marianne Wilson

L’Occitane has gone high-tech in its New York City flagship.

Located in the Flatiron District of Manhattan, the renovated store seeks to addressing the demands of today’s shoppers for immediacy and information while also channeling the rich heritage and culture of the brand’s Provence, France, roots.

The flagship features the brand’s first “smart beauty fitting room,” where shoppers can discover and personalize their shopping experience on a digital platform that allows them to browse products in a private, online format. The digital experience is combined with a physical, and sensorial product sampling experience.

The store also feature a one-on-one concierge service offering amenities that range from sparkling water to fragrance engraving and custom gift creation.

“We are thrilled to open the first store of the future at L'Occitane Flatiron, one of our flagship stores worldwide and a premier shopping destination in Manhattan," said Paul Blackburn, associate VP design & construction, North America. "From entry to exit, the multisensory boutique works collectively to create both an immersive and individualized shopping experience, offering clients an unparalleled assortment of product and service."

Inspired by the Provençal culture, the store is designed to offer an immersive, yet individualized shopping experience. It begins with the exterior façade where bright golden L’Occitane shutters open wide to invite everyone in.

Upon entering, each shopper is part of a modern day Provençal open air market. A community board details the in-store services, and bestselling and top trending products. Further in the space, shoppers can experience the brand’s collection of products under a colorful, 400-sq.-ft. trellis that runs down the middle of the ceiling, with seasonal changes.

L’Occitane commissioned creative agency School House as lead designers. The firm created a modern interpretation of abstracted design, art, digital and cultural and environmental innovations designed to elevate Provence from a location to an experience.

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Rent the Runway raises new round of funding amid expansion

BY Marianne Wilson

Rent the Runway’s total investment keeps growing.

The dress rental business announced it has closed on a $60 million round of funding, led by Fidelity Management and Research Company with additional money from such existing investors as Bain Capital Ventures and Highland Capital Partners. Total investment in the company now stands at $190 million.

The new round of funding will be used to accelerate Rent the Runway’s growth as it continues scaling its online rental products, retail stores and operational capacity. The retailer recently opened its largest store to date, a flagship in Manhattan.

"We are coming off of our most successful year since the company's inception, with the launch of our Unlimited subscription business, our partnership with Neiman Marcus and our new flagship store in New York," said Jennifer Hyman, co-founder and CEO of Rent the Runway. "We are excited to bring on Fidelity as a partner as we continue to disrupt the closet and remain at the forefront of the access economy."

Rent the Runway plans to use the funding to scale in four key areas, with the first being its original on-demand rental product, which now boasts 6 million members throughout the United States. The company will also focus on growing its Unlimited subscription business, which launched this spring and gives women access to designer clothing for a fixed monthly price.

In addition, Rent the Runway will continue expanding its retail footprint which includes stores in six cities, including San Francisco, where it opened an in-store shop at Neiman Marcus. The company will also use the funding to continue building its operational capacity.

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Plenty of people shopped on Christmas Day

BY Marianne Wilson

Nothing like doing a little shopping as presents are being unwrapped.

E-commerce traffic volume on Christmas Day shattered all previous records according to Verizon Enterprise Solutions’ Holiday Retail Index report.

The report finds that traffic continued to build into the Christmas weekend, and reached feverish pitch on Christmas Day which also coincided this year with the first full day of Hanukkah.

Specifically, ecommerce traffic volume to U.S.-based retailers was up 48% on Sunday (Dec. 25), shattering all previous records. Peak ecommerce volume also skyrocketed – up by 78% on Sunday – breaking all previous records.

“Digital commerce is continuing to steal the show this season and the holiday weekend was clearly the tipping point as consumers with gift cards to redeem and purchases to make turned en masse to the virtual marketplace that’s always open for business,” said Michele Dupré, group VP for retail, distribution and hospitality with Verizon Enterprise Solutions.

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