STORE SPACES

Four predictions on how retailing will evolve

BY Marianne Wilson

The retailers who flourish in the upcoming years will be those that re-imagine and align their stores with the digital age.

That prediction comes from a report by global analytics solutions provider Quantzig in which the company’s experts detail some of the key retail industry trends that will redefine the future of retail.

Here are their predictions on how the industry will evolve:

End of long-checkout queues: Saying goodbye to long checkout lines will be one of the most well-known retail trends that will go mainstream in the next few years. The future of retail will look more hopeful than ever before by helping consumers dodge queues and offering customers with a hassle-free shopping experience.

Retail industry players are also looking at the viability of payments made through virtual shopping carts rather than an old-fashioned checkout line.

Embracing the Millennial mentality: The future of the retail industry will significantly revolve around the preferences and tastes of Millennials. Millennials usually tend to be more loyal to brands that stand for the right values, like authenticity, transparency, and social responsibility. Transparency is one of the retail trends that will soon become a fixed factor in the retail industry.

Stores that recognize customers: The brick-and- mortar retailers are inspired by online retailers to know their customers better. This means that we can soon expect physical stores to find customers in the aisles via facial recognition or biometrics and save their browsing and purchase history immediately. This could also mean great news for the customers as the store might propose pop-up discounts on their beloved products or free samples.

Customers can also get the benefits of online shopping, like easy free shipping, one-click purchasing, and endless information like price comparisons and product history from touch-screens or voice command.

More small format stores: Small format stores will be a prominent trend in the future of retail. Many retailers are taking an inverse approach to surviving by becoming small and nimble rather than trying to compete with online stores’ large catalog and endless aisles. This attempt will not only bring the needed flexibility to the organization but at the same time will attract new crowds. Small format stores also enable retailers to open downtown locations, where they are can target young, affluent city dwellers.

To view a comprehensive list of the factors affecting the future of the retail industry, click here.

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STORE SPACES

The RealReal set to expand its e-commerce and physical presence

BY Marianne Wilson

The consignment market is hot — online and off.

Luxury consignment retailer The RealReal has raised more funds to expand its growing portfolio — including its brick-and-mortar presence.

The company, which prides itself on its authentication services, announced the closing of $115 million in Series G financing, bringing the total raised in private equity capital to $288 million. The most recent round was led by PWP Growth Equity, the middle market private equity group of Perella Weinberg Partners, with additional participation from new investor Sandbridge Capital and existing investor Great Hill Partners.

As part of the new investment, Chip Baird, co-founder and partner of PWP Growth Equity, will join The RealReal’s board.

In November, The RealReal opened its first-ever permanent store, in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood. It will open a store in Los Angeles, on Melrose Avenue, on July 26.

“This new round of funding will allow us to expand our brick-and-mortar footprint into new markets, as well as support our growing supply of luxury goods with new e-commerce fulfillment centers,” said Julie Wainwright, CEO and founder, The RealReal. “Over the last seven years, we have re-envisioned the experience of buying and selling luxury goods, and become a leader in the circular economy for luxury goods.”

The RealReal stands apart from other consignment sites in that it takes possession and authenticates every item prior to sale, the company said. Its Manhattan outpost sells men’s and women’s designer fashions, fine jewelry, watches, home furnishings, decor and art. Experts, ranging from gemologists to authentication specialists, are on hand to engage directly with shoppers and consignors (sellers).

In addition, workshops are offered twice daily by The RealReal’s authentication team, and appointments can be made with the on-site “luxury consignment office” to have fine jewelry, watches and handbags valued free of charge or to drop off items for consignment.

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Seven Cool Stores for a Hot Summer

BY Marianne Wilson

The spring and summer brought a flurry of new store concepts, both from established players and online upstarts. Check out the seven below (listed in alphabetical order):

1. Bulletin, New York City

Founded in 2014 as a shoppable digital magazine for Internet-based brands, Bulletin has evolved into an omnichannel retailer, with three stores in New York City and a thriving website. Its Union Square flagship offers products from more than 60 female-led online brands. The company operates with a membership-based business model: Each brand pays a monthly fee to rent out space to sell its product.

Bulletin is all about female empowerment, and uses its stores to host events around progressive issues.

2. The Container Store, Dallas

First Look: The Container Store unveils tech-savvy ‘next-generation’ store

The retailer unveiled its “next-generation” store concept at its revamped Dallas flagship. The store combines enhanced technology, an updated merchandising strategy and more personalized services with a goal of making it easier for customers to take care of their storage and organization needs.

Eighteen digital screens are scattered throughout the space, with content that runs the gamut from design inspiration to an online experience called “The Organization Studio.” It allows customers to upload a photo or video of their organizational challenge, describe the problem, and set up an in-store appointment to meet with a store expert.

Design-wise, the new format is more inviting and comfortable than a typical Container Store, with lower ceilings, less shelving, improved sight lines, and new flooring and enhanced lighting. And in a new twist, merchandise set-ups are reflective of real home spaces.

The concept resulted from consumer research conducted in partnership by the Container Store, FRCH Design Worldwide and digital innovation agency MJD.

3. Cuyana, New York City


Sometimes less is more. Or at least that’s the philosophy of online women’s apparel brand Cuyana. The start-up’s third physical location, in the city’s SoHo neighborhood, has a minimalist aesthetic that reflects the brand’s philosophy of “fewer, better.” It features a curated selection of wardrobe essentials, as well as on-sit monogramming.

Founded in 2013 by two young female entrepreneurs, Cuyana describes the New York store “as an experience created by women, for women.” Cuyana combines its simple but stylish merchandise with a strong social message. Shoppers who select the “Lean Closet” option at checkout receive a linen bag to fill with clothing they no longer want. After mailing the bag back to Cuyana with the included shipping label, the shopper will receive a $10 credit towards their next purchase. The donated clothing is given directly to victims of abuse, to help them get a fresh start.

4.Grail, Vancouver, British Columbia


Sneaker enthusiasts — regular fans and serious collectors — are the target audience of Grail, a new retail concept financially backed by footwear retail giant DSW Inc. The 3,100-sq.-ft. store offers an immersive retail experience that celebrates sneaker culture, art and community. It blends a vast assortment of men’s and women’s sneakers from leading manufacturers with a selection of hard-to-find, niche global brands.

The interior pairs minimalist and textured design elements with technology. Exposed conduits and caged LED tube lights mix with liquid crystal wall projections that switch from clear to opaque in a moment. Meanwhile, in a front window, a digital clock counts down to exclusive, limited-edition sneaker drops.

5. Nike Live, Los Angeles


Nike puts a new spin on localization with its Nike Live format, using analytics to provide a shopping experience tailored to the area. Debuting in Los Angeles under the Nike by Melrose banner, the store’s location and merchandise assortment were selected using insights based on Nike analysis of activity and buying patterns of local members of the NikePlus loyalty program across its website and app.

Nike Live offers a more boutique, tech-enhanced shopping experience than a standard Nike store, with an array of added services that range from one-on-one personal service consultations to bra fittings to curbside order pickup. Signage and digital displays encourage customers to use their Nike app to scan barcodes for product information (including item availability and available colors) and access new features and content. They can also use the app to access an SMS messaging system that connects them to the store team.

All loyalty program members have access to the vending machine-styled “unlock box” where they can scan their member QR code every two weeks for unique Nike products and goods. The same code can be used at a set of lockers to pick up a reserved order.

6. PetCoach, San Marcos, Calif.


Petco brings its previously online-only, veterinary-led PetCoach platform to life in a brick-and-mortar setting — enhanced by digital and mobile tools — designed to address total pet health and wellness.

With only a limited, extremely curated product selection, the store is focused on service. The on-site offerings include grooming, training, veterinary care, nutrition consultations, day care, self-wash, mobile vet house calls and even dog walking.

Customers go the brand’s online platform to create custom pet profiles and book in-store service appointments (with tailored reminders). They can also access immediate professional pet health advice from licensed veterinarians, order from a vet-vetted selection of pet food and supplies, and search a library of content relevant to their pet, including their health and vaccination records, service history and more.

7. Outdoor Voices, Boston


The former digitally native activewear brand has seven carefully crafted stores — and no two look the same. Each one references its locale. The retailer’s just-opened Boston location (its first-ever in the Northeast) features a larger-than-life sculpture of a runner, a nod to the city’s famous marathon. The space merges collegiate tradition with modern details, with singled dressing rooms and displays inspired by classic locker rooms.

Outdoor Voice has a devoted following, a result of its Instagram savvy and signature color-blocked apparel. Its stores reflect the brand’s love of recreation — each one holds regular classes and group outings targeted to the favorite pastimes of the location.

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