STORE SPACES

Five New Customer Experiences

BY Denise Lee Yohn

Savvy retailers and restaurateurs aren’t standing by while digital players, delivery services, and marketplaces try to steal their market share. They’re disrupting themselves and creating brand new retail customer experiences. Here are some of the more extraordinary developments of late:

Apple Town Hall in Chicago: Apple opened up a new “store” on the Chicago River, but the company calls it a “town square” for the role it envisions for the location. With lots of outdoor space, a boardroom to host meetings for local businesses, and a calendar of events and programs co-created with local non-profits and creative agencies, it’s changing the definition of “store.”

Starbucks Roastery: Earlier this year Howard Schultz stepped back from day to day involvement in Starbucks to focus on growing the company’s Roastery and Reserve brands.  Starbucks Roastery offers an even more high-end, sensory-stimulating, more-engaging in-store experience.  With plans to open 20-30 locations around the world, the company is ushering in the next wave of coffee experience. (Check out my video briefing on this new store concept.)

Shake Shack “playground”: ShakeShack has created an innovation “lab” in one of its restaurants, testing a cashless ordering system (customers order through in-store kiosks or their mobile phones) as well as back-of-house changes to improve delivery speed and packaging.  Like many companies, Shake Shack is using its stores to learn in real-time, in-person.

Walmart grocery pick-up and more: Walmart recently announced that shoppers will be able to pick up online grocery orders at 1,000 more stores starting next year and it is currently testing a service in which drivers deliver groceries right into customers’ refrigerators. It’s all part of the company’s push to leverage its brick-and-mortar capabilities to provide superior convenience over Amazon – and it’s the best strategy it can take. (See my take on Walmart vs. Amazon.)

Lolli & Pops: Forty-store chain  Lolli & Pops takes people back in time to an old-fashioned sweet shop, replete with “Chief Purveyors” (general managers) and “Magic Makers” (staff) whose job is to get customers right into the Lolli & Pops experience by offering you samples — all kinds, lots of them. Generosity, after all, is one of the company’s core values.

Brand-building consultant Denise Lee Yohn is also the author of e-book, Extraordinary Experiences: What Great Retail and Restaurant Brands Do.

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STORE SPACES

Yankee Candle pops-up in New York City

BY Marianne Wilson

The power of scent is the theme of a just-opened experiential pop-up from Yankee Candle.

The brand’s first-ever pop-up, CandlePower by Yankee Candle, is located in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood. The 5,340-sq.-ft. store offers an interactive experience and 10 immersive exhibits designed to ignite the senses through scent, sight, sound and touch.

“CandlePower celebrates the power of scented candles to transform spaces and transport our consumers,” said Hope Margala, CEO of home fragrance, Newell Brands. “We’ve taken some of the scents our shoppers love the most like Balsam & Cedar and built a way for them to experience it in an entirely new light.”

The pop-up features a “scent test bar” where shoppers can match their personality type to a fragrance and test their knowledge of Yankee Candle scents. Other features include a “personalization lab,” where shoppers can create their own personalized candle, label it, and share it online, and a “museum store” section with wall of more than 100 candles from the company’s three brands (Yankee Candle, WoodWick and Chesapeake Bay.) A gifting station is available to wrap and ship gifts.

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STORE SPACES

Barneys’ holiday window displays strike an inclusive note

BY Marianne Wilson

Barneys New York is known for its creative, often unusual approach to holiday windows. And this year is no exception to the rule.

Barneys’ holiday campaign celebrates a message of diversity and inclusion in its window displays and in-store experiences, which were done in collaboration with The Haas Brothers. In addition to the window displays and interactive in-store experiences, the “Haas for the Holidays” campaign includes limited edition exclusive merchandise, and a social giving campaign. For the first time, Barneys New York will extend the holiday collaboration across its 14 stores nationally with varying window displays, as well as immersive in-store experiences.

The windows feature an array of animations and animal characters, all peacefully coexisting through the eras, from the beginning of the earth to the distant future. The windows are brought to life by advanced LED displays (created by Christie), with day to night animation across all four windows. Messages are incorporated into the displays. In one, 3-D snakes cavort under the words “Snake Love Not War.

Additionally, Barneys’ stores across the country will have their own themes based on Haas designs, which will be incorporated into window displays and interior experiences.

“We were thrilled to collaborate with the Haas Brothers to tackle complicated themes through a unique lens of playful environments and characters,” said Matthew Mazzucca, creative director, Barneys New York. “The result is a fun and engaging concept that celebrates individuality, inclusiveness and love.”

The same theme will be reflected on the floors of the retailer’s Madison Avenue flagship, with each floor assigned a “Haas Rule.” The fourth floor’s “Boulder and Wiser” theme, for example, will feature a colorful rock garden lounge for customers to interact with, with a selfie system to take photos in the immersive space.

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