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STORE SPACES

First Look: Zara unveils pioneering store concept

BY Marianne Wilson

Global apparel giant Zara has taken the wraps off its transformed flagship at Westfield Stratford mall in London, debuting a format that revolutionizes the in-store shopping experience.

The two-story, 48,000-sq.-ft. store feature digital technology that integrates the online and offline shopping experiences, with such features as automated order collection points, self-checkout, interactive mirrors and mobile payment systems.

In addition to Zara’s usual departments for women’s, men’s and kids,’ it offers a dedicated section for the purchase and collection of online orders. This section has two automated online order collection points, serviced by a concealed area able to handle 2,400 orders simultaneously, enabling shoppers to collect purchases made through Zara’s ecommerce platforms.

The system’s optical barcode reader scans QR or PIN codes that customers receive when they place online orders. Behind the pick-up point, a robotic arm collects trays and organizes the packages optimally according to their size, delivering orders for customers to collect in seconds.

The store has an array of features designed to create a seamless and convenient shopping experience. Interactive mirrors equipped with RFID detect the garment a customer is holding, enabling customers to see what a complete outfit will look like in the mirror. Online orders are available in store on the same day if made before 2 p.m., or the next day if made in the afternoon.

Store associates are equipped with iPads and can accept payments. Customers can pay using their mobile phones via the Zara app or the Inditex Group app, InWallet. Along with regular checkouts, there is a self-checkout area with a system that automatically identifies garments being purchased. Customers can confirm their items on a screen at self-checkout before paying with their cards or mobile phones.

The new Zara has been designed to stand out as a unique shopping destination. It has a two-story façade without windows on the first floor, providing a transparent view of the store’s interior architectural features and collections. The store also boasts smart systems that reduce emissions and save energy.

“The reopening of Zara’s flagship in Stratford is an important moment for Inditex,” stated Pablo Isla, chairman and CEO of Zara parent company Inditex. “We are in a unique position as we enjoy a global sales platform that fully integrates stores and online. In recent years we have invested in both the most advanced technology and optimized our stores for this aim.”

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First Look: The Profit’s Marcus Lemonis unveils new retail concept

BY Marianne Wilson

A new lifestyle concept from one of the nation’s most high-profile retail entrepreneurs has made its debut in Manhattan.

The Marcus Lemonis Fashion Group, which is owned by Marcus Lemonis, star of CNBC hit reality series “The Profit,” CEO of Camping World and all-around entrepreneur, has opened Marcus, in the heart of heart of New York City’s Meatpacking District. The women’s lifestyle and fashion boutique is designed as a luxe, one-stop-shop with a curated balance of one-of-a-kind artwork, books, candles, chocolate, décor, gifts, and wardrobe essentials from up-and-coming and best-selling designers.

“I’m proud to introduce you to my newest concept, Marcus, a luxury fashion and lifestyle destination for women offering the latest styles, curated by me,” said Lemonis. “Based on the feedback and interest of our shoppers, I’ve filled the store with best-sellers they already love, while also introducing new brands and statement pieces they won’t be able to live without. We’ve built a talented team of expert fashion stylists to offer customers top-tier shopping guidance and make them feel good every step of the way.”

Lemonis first began his fashion retail empire when Upper East Side family-owned business Courage b appeared on “The Profit” in 2014, before eventually expanding locations and ultimately rebranding. As Lemonis continued his retail development, he named Courage b’s Stephanie Menkin as president of Marcus Lemonis Fashion Group. Together, Lemonis and Menkin partnered in an array of fashion businesses, including Inkkas Shoes, Printed Village, Flex Watches, and Susana Monaco in addition to contemporary retailers The Blues Jean Bar, Denim & Soul, Runway, Final Sale and Union 73.

The first Marcus store opened in Chicago in October of 2017. The company then decided to reimagine and rebrand all its existing fashion retail concepts as Marcus. Currently, there are nearly 20 Marcus locations and counting in and around such areas as Aspen, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, and Palm Beach to name a few.

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Starbucks to nearly double store count, triple revenue in China

BY Marianne Wilson

Starbucks Corp. is accelerating the pace of expansion in one of its most important — and fastest-growing — markets.

The coffee giant announced plans to build 3,000 stores — 600 net new stores annually — during the next five years in Mainland China, which will double the market’s store count from its current 3,300 locations. Starbucks said it expects to more than triple revenue and more than double operating income in China by the end of fiscal year 2022 from fiscal year 2017.

“The power of our brand in China, the strength and momentum in our business, and the world-class Chinese leadership team give me great confidence in our ability to capture the enormous growth opportunities ahead in this dynamic market,” said Kevin Johnson, Starbucks president and CEO. “No Western company or brand is better positioned to evolve with the rapidly expanding Chinese middle class – and we continue to mindfully evolve a coffee culture in China where the reward will be healthy, long-term, profitable growth for decades to come. We are committed to long-term investment in China.”

Starbucks’ said its newest class of stores in China are delivering the highest average unit volumes, return on investment and profitability of any of the market’s prior store classes in its history. The company operates approximately 3,300 stores in 141 cities in China, with a new store opening every 15 hours.

In June, the company will open its newest multi-level flagship format, in the Beijing Fun shopping area. It will be Starbucks’ largest store globally (aside from its Roasteries concept).

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