Online retailer Revolve has announced it will open a branded suite and retail store at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas next year.
In the past, Revolve has done similar hospitality takeovers during Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, where it rebranded existing hotel properties into the Hotel Revolve and invited VIP guests to stay throughout the duration of the music festival. The permanent branded suite, however, aims to withstand time, versus “a moment in time”, co-CEO and co-founder Michael Mente told WWD.
The suite will become a way for the company’s roster of influencers, as well as the general public, to further experience the brand’s universe whenever in town.
Moreover the 1,000-square-foot store, which is only the second physical store by Revolve after its invite-only Social Club flagship in Los Angeles, will have merchandise that reflects the ritual of getting glammed up to go out in the city. Additionally it will also be an opportunity to grow the retailer’s booming swimwear category.
“Those are segments where we feel our brand really resonates with that female Millennial so I think that’s a perfect location,” Mente added. “Every aspect of the fun life that you would live in Vegas, Revolve is very strong in and has the right merchandising mix for the consumer.”
Since launching in 2012, Revolves strategy has centered around supporting the lifestyle of young women who travel and experience life to its fullest. Consequently, the brand’s approach to influencers, as well as popping up in timely events such as Coachella, has become an increasingly important tool for engagement.
“We think that with the Palms it’s the perfect partnership and perfect location for us because the clientele they are seeking to attract and develop and the clientele that the brand attracts are similar,” adds Mente. “That alignment on the same focus and the same consumer was a natural fit.”
Revolve will be joining Palms Casino Resort as it undergoes a $620m renovation, which includes the opening of many new retail and food establishments. For the hotel, the brand’s presence represents an opportunity to further tap into a new audience, and attract more of its top clientele, which hails from Los Angeles.
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Heist Studios is opening its first temporary brick and mortar space in London, and it’s taking its cues from how customers have shopped online to do so.
Since launching in 2015, the direct-to-consumer (DTC) hosiery brand has held its community at the heart of everything it does – from its R&D process to advertising campaigns. With the launch of its first ever physical space, called the DemoStudio, it is taking learnings from online into the real world. For example, store associates will be trained by Heist’s existing online customer service team, who has been interacting with shoppers since the beginning.
“Until now, Heist has only ever existed online,” said Joanna Bell, head of retail for the brand. “When we made the decision to open a store, we had to ask ourselves, what does Heist look like in person? How do our brand, values and offering translate?”
Excelling in customer service is an overarching characteristic many successful DTC brands have. For this store, customers will also be able to try-before-they-buy, which is a feature already offered on its site, and a hosiery industry first. Similarly most other DTC brands, from mattresses to luggage, offer a ‘100 day guarantee or your money back’ scheme to encourage customers to take the plunge and buy from a new player in the industry.
At the DemoStudio, unwanted tights from the try-before-you-buy experience will be donated to Smart Works, a charity that provides interview clothing and coaching to long-term unemployed women hoping to enter the workplace. Customers will also be able to drop off any interview-ready clothing donations in-store. The brand is encouraging the activity on its Instagram page, where it gives customers tips on what clothing is appropriate to donate.
The Heist DemoStudio will be open from September 8th until January 4th in the Seven Dials area of Covent Garden in London, which is also where luggage brand Away opened its first ever international store last week. As retail experts and the media declare the death of the high street, the opening of two DTC stores in the same neighborhood is an indication that reports may often be exaggerated.
“The highstreet is not dying. Brands that fail to evolve are,” adds Bell. “We see an exciting future on the high street for brands to grow stronger by bringing the best of both online and offline worlds together to improve customer experience.”
Earlier this summer, we also spoke to Jen Rubio, president and co-founder of Away, for TheCurrent Innovators podcast, where she talked about the industry’s radical shift in physical retail. As legacy brands and mega stores shutter, the real estate industry is increasingly opening up to the idea of new players who often enter the field by hosting pop-ups to measure demand – which is part of the strategy for both Away and Heist – to then launch permanent brick and mortar spaces thereafter.
How are you thinking about retail innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so.TheCurrent is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.
Commerce is changing in China at rates unseen in any other market. Possibly the biggest change is in the attitudes and shopping behaviors of modern Chinese consumers. These shoppers demand the kind of convenience technology can provide, yet are increasingly seeking meaningful ways to engage with brands in the real world.
Digital giant Alibaba’s “New Retail” strategy attests to this phenomenon. By investing in brick and mortar stores, Alibaba is pushing forward the integration of online and offline retail to create a seamless omnichannel consumer experience.
Their main competitor, JD.com, is embracing the trend too. The e-commerce company says it plans to open a total of one million smart convenience stores in the next four years, claiming that they will open an average of 1,000 a day in 2018. Many of these stores will be unmanned and allow customers to pay with facial recognition.
On June 16, China’s popular social e-commerce platform Xiaohongshu (RED)became one of the first of the smaller e-commerce players to join the giants in their journey into brick-and-mortar, by launching its first offline store RED Home in Shanghai. In just a couple of weeks, the store has proved popular with Xiaohongshu’s loyal online user base.
The store is a case study in the future of retail and how to create a space specifically designed for the young, modern Chinese consumer, incorporating the major trends of Chinese retail.
1. Socialization and community
Xiaohongshu representatives often emphasize that it is first and foremost a social platform; e-commerce is a secondary component added in response to the needs and requests of its community.
In an interview with Chinese tech media outlet 36KR, Xiaohongshu explained that the main goal of the offline store is not to increase sales but to be an experientialplace for its community to meet offline.
The store features a café and ice cream shop deliberately located adjacent to the home goods department, offering customers the chance to hang out and spend time with each other and the products.
The store’s inventory does not include all items available on the Xiaohongshu platform, instead featuring only the most highly ranked products from its app. In this way, Xiaohongshu is using the preferences of its online community to curate the offline store’s inventory.
2. Technological Integration
Constant exposure to new technologies and innovative social media campaigns have become an everyday part of Chinese consumers’ lives. Physical shops need to adopt these technologies and integrate virtual activities into real life, in a way that is practical for the consumer.
For example, beauty retailers including the Yves Saint Laurent store in Shanghai have added augmented reality screens that use facial recognition to enable customers to virtually try on different makeup looks. Beauty and skincare are the most popular product categories on the Xiaohongshu platform, and so this technology was also added to the app’s new offline location.
The core feature of the Xiaohongshu app is product reviews, an aspect that has been seamlessly integrated into the offline experience. Instead of the customer pulling out their phone to search for reviews online, the offline location offers screens located throughout the store. Customers can bring any item in the store over to the screen, and the screen will then pull up review posts about that particular product on the Xiaohongshu app.
For brands looking to foster a deeper connection with Chinese millennials, an experiential approach is the key. With nearly 80 percent of its users under the age of 35, this was extremely important for Xiaohongshu to keep in mind when creating its offline store.
In addition to the café and ice cream counter, the Xiaohongshu store also has a Lego building area. Following the vintage arcade game fad happening in China right now, the store has claw machines with prizes such as designer lipsticks.
The Xiaohongshu platform centers around a community who love to take photos of their lives and share them online. Because of this, the store aims to be a selfie-lovers paradise, having clearly been designed with social media in mind.
Interestingly, in an interview, Xiaohongshu shared that the staff responsible for designing the store had no previous offline retail experience. Instead, it was their years in online retail – especially in the fashion and beauty industries – that led them to think outside the box when it came to the store’s layout, décor and technological integration.
Xiaohongshu is not exclusively a luxury e-commerce platform and therefore its offline store cannot be completely comparable to that of a luxury brand. However, RED Home offers some key insights into the future of retail in China, showing how offline retail spaces can be designed in order to capture the attention of young Chinese consumers, integrating technology in a way that complements the behaviors of a brand’s target audience.
Lego’s most important feedback often comes from six year-olds, says the brand’s head of retail innovation, Martin Urrutia, on the latest episode of TheCurrent Innovators podcast.
Speaking to Rachel Arthur at this year’s World Retail Congress in Madrid, Urrutia says focusing on the relationship between the user and the brick, and constantly listening to consumers’ wants and needs, has been pivotal to the Danish brand’s longevity.
“Prior to rolling out anything important in our stores we actually sit at a table and present this to children and listen to them. And of course sometimes you say ‘Am I going to let a six or eight year old child tell me what to do in store?’ and the answer is yes, of course. If you present this to them, if you listen to the feedback, it’s going to be interesting,” he explains. “I’ve seen so many companies changing their essence and changing many things,” he says, “and the only question that comes to my mind is – have they really asked their core users what they want?”
In order to serve all types of consumers with the right interaction, the brand prides itself on being truly shopper-centric. Understanding the consumer is particularly key to a brand that is in the unique position of having such a vast fanbase – from small children to much older adults. This means engaging with core fans through a continuous conversation informs not only R&D, but also store design and interactive experiences. There have been many ideas that looked good on paper but were scrapped when they received negative feedback from real consumers or partner retailers, Urrutia explains, for instance.
During the episode, he talks to the idea of store experiences that engender memories, and always bringing in an element of play to everything the brand does. Such is the importance of the physical toy for the 85-year-old company, in fact, that it is often found in its meeting rooms worldwide, and its workforce takes one day a year to put work aside and play with the brick themselves. This internal strategy feeds into a larger purpose that encourages customers to play and engage with the toys at any given moment – be it at home or in any one of the brand’s increasing retail spaces.
Throughout the conversation, Urrutia also explains about the importance of choosing the right technology for retail; both that which is easy for staff and customers alike to interact with, but also simple to update and scale. He also notes other imperative brick-and-mortar retail tools, such as an invested and knowledgeable staff, as well as ensuring that there is something for everyone within that physical space.
Catch up with all of our episodes of TheCurrent Innovators here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by TheCurrent, a consultancy transforming how consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.
Much has been said about the death of the store at the hands of the digital era, but retailers and brands with physical footprints are increasingly harnessing technology to instil a sense of connectivity and immersion in their spaces.
Front and center within that is the Asia market, which is setting the standard by responding to consumers’ avid connected behavior and facilitating increasingly digitized physical journeys that perfectly blend both realities.
Here, we highlight four of our favorite recent brand examples.
Ford and Alibaba’s unstaffed car vending machine
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has partnered with automaker Ford on a cat-shaped car vending machine in China that allows potential buyers the chance to try-before-they-buy. The structure, located in Guangzhou, is completely self-directed and available only to Alibaba’s Super Members, the highest tier of membership in the retailer’s program.
Once users go through a background check on the Alibaba app, they can select their preferred vehicle and head to one of the Super Test-Drive Centers. Arriving at the location, they can use either facial recognition or a login code to trigger the test-drive experience, which they can do for up to three days.
Starbucks’ augmented coffee mecca
Starbucks meanwhile is focusing on augmented reality in its new Shanghai Reserve Roastery, where the coffee brand tapped into the Chinese consumer’s mobile-first behavior by creating a digital scavenger hunt.
Available through Taobao, consumers have to scan a code in-store and then proceed to scan coffee machines and brewers around the store to trigger content. Doing so with such physical objects activates animations on the mobile screen, and then offers the user more information on the coffee making process, such as how specific machines roast the coffee.
By offering consumers more branded storytelling through mobile, the company aligns with its Reserve Roastery concept ethos, which is to act as a mecca on all things coffee-making, and serve avid customers accordingly.
Shiseido’s smart diagnosis and brand content mirrors
Smart mirrors might not be anything new within the ‘tech in-store’ discussion, but at Shiseido’s recently opened flagship in the Ginza Six shopping complex in Tokyo, the connected device offers more granular and personalized content than we’ve seen before, including around diagnosis.
Customers visiting the store can have their picture taken by a smart mirror, which results in a skin analysis and step-by-step guidance on screen on how to apply a curation of products. Afterwards, users can scan a QR code generated on the screen to put their counselling data on their own phone.
Additional features in Shiseido’s tech-enabled store, include screens that change visuals whenever someone is within two meters of them, as well as smart tables that recognize when a specific product has been picked up, and generate information on a smart screen accordingly.
Jack & Jones and Vero Moda’s facial recognition payments
You can’t talk about Asia without mentioning WeChat, and in this instance the future of payments. Danish fashion brands Jack & Jones and Vero Moda, part of the Bestseller group, have recently opened smart stores in two Chinese locations that are powered by Tencent’s facial recognition technology, allowing customers to pay with their face.
Located in Shenzhen and Guangzhou, the smart stores allow shoppers to shop without the need for cash or even their mobile phones. After completing the facial recognition registration at digital kiosks in-store, shoppers become members of the Tencent’s “AI Club”, which is powered by WeChat Pay. When checking out, they can then use the feature to complete the payment, which is debited through their WeChat wallets.
Beyond cashless (and mobile-less) payment capabilities, the entire store experiences can be automated. At the fitting room, the same technology is applied – once the shopper is recognized by a smart screen, they can receive recommendations based on past purchases.
Chanel and Farfetch have signed a multiyear innovation partnership that will see the companies collaborate to develop a series of digital initiatives in-store and online.
The companies have been working together for several months on merging Farfetch’s expertise in digital innovation with Chanel’s expertise in luxury retailing to create enhanced customer experiences in this Store of the Future bid.
José Neves, founder and CEO of Farfetch, calls the company’s future vision “Augmented Retail”, in which the physical boutique experience and the advantages of online and digital competitor come together. Speaking of the Chanel partnership, he says: “It is truly an honour to be partnering with Chanel to accelerate the development of technology-driven initiatives which will ensure they remain at the forefront of retail excellence and elevate the already unparalleled level of luxury experience for its clients that Chanel is renowned for.”
The vision provides in-store experiences that are personalized to the customer with the use of data and other digital initiatives. Farfetch’s launch of its Store of the Future division in early 2017 promised to enable the “offline cookie” for retailers, by connecting customers in the physical space with data relevant to their own behaviors thanks to a universal login system. It has been working in beta with Browns East since, and is soon to launch in Thom Browne in New York also.
With this partnership, Chanel will customise their own version of the Farfetch Store of the Future operating system, the specific terms and details of which are undisclosed. The first example of it will launch in a France-based boutique later in 2018.
Bruno Pavlovsky, Chanel’s fashion president, says: “We are very enthusiastic about this Innovation Partnership and look forward to implementing the first steps of our projects together. We want to offer our clients the opportunity to further experience the brand values and to feel something which is authentic and unique to Chanel. We strongly believe that digital will never replace the feeling of being in a fitting room and trying on a Chanel piece. We are confident that Farfetch’s innovative technology will help us develop an even more outstanding customer journey by combining a great e-service offering with a genuine Chanel boutique experience.”
As part of the partnership Chanel has invested in Farfetch, joining its existing list of shareholders.
Beauty retailer Sephora has opened a new store in Boston that not only serves as its smallest footprint yet, but also its most digitally enabled space.
Sephora Studio, as it’s called, is a 2,000 square foot concept store focused on artistry and skincare. Its intimate format, which is about half the size of a usual Sephora store, largely aims to raise the bar for personalised client services.
“In today’s retail environment where very little is constant and clients’ expectations are ever-evolving, one thing has remained true for Sephora: there is no better way to create meaningful connections with clients than through personalised experiences and a customised approach to beauty. We could not be more focused on that notion than we are with the opening of Sephora Studio,” said Calvin McDonald, president and CEO of Sephora Americas.
“The Studio merges the best of an inclusive neighbourhood retail environment with best-in-class digital tools that enable our expert beauty advisors to customise recommendations on an individual basis.”
At the heart of that are iPhone 7 devices for all of the advisors set up in a way so as to service shoppers with product information and reviews, appointment check-ins, looking up their loyalty or “Beauty Insider” status, enabling point of sale rather than queuing up at the till, and more.
Each phone also has a number of existing Sephora apps installed, including the Digital Makeover Guide, which is an interactive face chart that records the customised product and application tips received for the user to then take home, and a Digital Skincare Guide, which sends a personalised skincare regime to them following consultations.
There are also further screens throughout the store to provide navigation and self-help information for shoppers, as well as to virtually try on products using augmented reality, and make their own reservations and appointments for individual treatments and for the Studio’s group classes.
Clients can also make use of two omnichannel product delivery options, including “order in store” and “same day pick up”, which either enables them to order online and have items delivered home, or pick them up at the nearby Prudential Center store.