business Campaigns Editor's pick product Retail technology Uncategorized

3 media companies investing in physical retail stores

In a bid to make money beyond ad revenue while raising brand awareness, editorial companies including Buzzfeed, New York Magazine and Good Housekeeping all recently launched physical retail stores in the US.  

Merging content and commerce has long been a topic of discussion within the industry, both from how brands are thinking about their editorial voice, and – in this instance – how media businesses are monetizing their content prowess.

That’s meant all manner of e-commerce entities especially, but numerous experiments in the space have been met with mixed results. NET-A-PORTER may have nailed how to do content both online and offline, for instance, but in return flopped at the first hurdle when it shifted to a commerce model.

Others however have steamed ahead and found legs in this space balancing both angles. Marie Claire’s beauty store, Fabled, launched in 2016 and continues with a successful online and brick-and-mortar store in London.

Read on to find out how Buzzfeed, New York Magazine and Good Housekeeping are similarly thinking about physical retail experiences in order to capture consumer attention.

Buzzfeed’s Camp

Online news and media outlet Buzzfeed opened a toy shop called Camp in December. Located in the Flatiron District of New York, the space also has an experiential area that’s ready for Instagram-worthy photos. With rotating decor that changes every few months, ‘Summer camp’ is the first theme chosen for the store. Think of a “campitheater”: a sports field, a dance hall, some real bunks, a radio lab, and even s’mores ice cream sundaes by Milk Bar.

Good Housekeeping GH Popup shop
Good Housekeeping GH Popup shop

Good Housekeeping ‘s GH Lab pop-up

Good Housekeeping magazine opened a three-month pop-up at the Mall of America in Minneapolis that capitalized on the busy holiday shopping period by running until December 30. Called “GH Lab”, the store offered only one item per product category. Unlike regular retailers that sell several brands of the same item, each pick was tested and recommended by experts from the GH Institute. The shoppable showroom had more than 40 curated products, and most of them had earned the Good Housekeeping Seal, which provides buyers with a two-year limited warranty guaranteed by the magazine.

The store was cashless, with all merchandise shoppable through Amazon’s app and its SmileCode scanner. Shoppers used their smartphone’s camera to scan a code that went straight to Good Housekeeping’s Amazon seller page where they could place an order for home delivery.

The New Yorker Strategist popup
New York Magazine’s The Strategist popup

New York Magazine’s The Strategist

The Strategist, New York Magazine’s product recommendation site, also opened its first pop-up for the month of December, this time in Soho, New York. The store curated beauty brands and products, including haircare, bed sheets, and self-care products. The space also hosted events, including a beauty panel with The Cut’s beauty director Kathleen Hou, and offered workshops and free blowouts.

With so many other publishers playing in the product review and recommendation field, Camila Cho, General Manager of e-commerce for New York Media, said the pop-up was an opportunity to raise brand awareness. “Offline allows more flexibility to showcase our brand personality and how we are different,” said Cho in an interview for Fipp.

How are you thinking about interactive retail experiences? 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.

Editor's pick technology

Topshop returns to virtual reality with immersive water slide experience

Topshop's virtual reality water slide through London's streets
Topshop’s virtual reality water slide through London’s streets

Topshop has turned the windows of its flagship store in London into an interactive pool scene complete with an immersive virtual reality water slide.

#TopshopSplash, as the summer campaign is called, will see visitors able to put on an Oculus headset, sit on a giant inflatable at the entrance to the water slide, and experience a thrilling, hyper-real journey through London.

Created with Fat Unicorn and Your Studio, and running from May 25 – June 4, the high intensity ride takes users through a computer-generated version of the city’s streets, twisting and turning as they go.

The initiative taps into the idea of “presence” that VR engenders – a sense of actually being in the alternate location the experience is supplying, and thus feeling what it provides. This has been used for rollercoaster rides in VR for some time – in some cases in addition to truly being on a ride, while in others without going anywhere at all.

In Topshop’s case, the user doesn’t actually travel on the water slide, but is made to feel as though they do. It follows an earlier experience from the brand using VR to transport store goers to its London Fashion Week show in 2014.

Topshop's virtual reality water slide in its flagship store window
Topshop’s virtual reality water slide in its flagship store window

Sheena Sauvaire, global marketing and communications director at Topshop, says: “As VR technology continues to advance our desire was to blend it with retail theatre to create an immersive and shareable experience for our consumers, as a fun way to celebrate the start of summer.”

To help with the summer feeling comes extrasensory elements in place around the store, including the scent of suncream, as well as relevant pop-ups such as soft-serve ice-cream brand Milk Train. Further concessions will also run relevant initiatives – Hershesons will give tutorials on hair trends, embroiderers Hand and Lock will be on hand to customise new swimwear, and Cheeky salon will be offering Summer-themed nail art.

Snapchat users can also access an exclusive Topshop lens from Saturday, May 27, featuring a surreal summer-themed aquatic world. Those who try the free VR experience will also be able to share it with friends via social media thereafter.

Topshop's water slide displayed in-store
Topshop’s water slide displayed in-store