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Editor's pick Retail

Neiman Marcus blends retail and tech at Hudson Yards megastore

Department store Neiman Marcus is claiming a stake of the $25bn Hudson Yards development opening in lower Manhattan in NYC this week with a megastore that merges traditional and omnichannel retail.

The space, which takes up five out of seven floors of the retail complex, is the retailer’s latest play at engaging with a new luxury consumer that is not only seeking products, but experiences and education alongside.

On the lower floor, for example, the retailer is hosting a kitchen for live demonstrations, while Neiman Marcus Live is a space on the middle floor that can hold up to 100 people for events like talks and Q&As with fashion designers and industry pioneers. The store also features a bar, named Stanley, which overlooks the Thomas Heatherwick-designed Vessel structure, a larger-than-life center piece for the Hudson Yards complex.

Technology is being blended into the space in order to give the luxury customer a one-to-one, tailored interaction with sales staff.

The Current Global’s CTO, Scott Emmons, who is the former head of the Neiman Marcus iLab, and was responsible for the technology execution in the new store before his departure, said: “We applied creative approaches and partnerships so that the consumer-facing technology was both useful to the shopper, and fit naturally into a very luxurious retail environment.”

A smart fitting room at Neiman Marcus

This includes a smart fitting room where customers can ‘check in’ upon entering, which will then act as a communication tool between shopper and sales associate. The customer can request new items, different sizing and even signal they are ready to check out through a personal screen, which is then communicated to the associate’s mobile POS system.

The fitting room experience was designed to easily be updated with new capabilities in the future, such as self-checkout or recommendation technologies, as well as enhance the ever-important role of the associate.

“Technology in this instance, is being used to not only deliver an optimal customer experience but act as a digital exoskeleton to supercharge the capabilities of the sales associates,” Emmons added.

It’s for this reason he believes this store is an example of what retail needs to look like in the future. “New York is one of the toughest places in the world to be a retailer and stand out from very capable competitors. Technology is not the only answer but when combined with the visual aspects, the right merchandise, experiential aspects and so forth, it can put you over the top.”

“This is how we think about things at the Current Global – removing technology from its vacuum and into the wider context of creative innovation in order to meet pressing consumer demands. At the end of the day, traditional retail must be weaved together with modern tech to enable customers to be seen and treated like individuals, and not market segments. Technology for the sake of it will never respond to basic human needs of having emotional connections when purchasing luxury.

“At a time when so many department stores are failing, what Neiman Marcus has pulled off is an inspiring example of what luxury retail should be. It’s a combination of great experience, great staffing, great environment and the right tech.”

How are you thinking about retail innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. The Current Global 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.

Categories
Editor's pick technology

Reformation opening tech-enabled store inspired by Silicon Valley

Reformation's tech-enabled San Francisco store
Reformation’s tech-enabled San Francisco store

Reformation is set to open its fifth store, this time in San Francisco, and inspired by brands that call Silicon Valley home, including Apple and Tesla. The result will be a more efficient experience for those who visit, enabled via touchscreen monitors and a smart dressing room setup.

The aim is to get away from the “self-service cafeteria” feel of so many stores, according to founder Yael Aflalo. “Most [stores] are super messy, you can never find your size, you have to wait in line forever, the dressing room lighting is the worst,” she told Fashionista. “I felt like a high-volume, high-end retail experience was basically nonexistent. So we wanted to blend internet and IRL to create a store we’d actually want to go to ourselves — that hopefully solves a lot of these problems.”

She took inspiration from the ease of shopping at Apple, where even on its busiest days, there’s a high level of customer service maintained. She particularly appreciated the fact the products are neatly on display, not cluttering the store, and used that to inform the way she designed her own space, placing her best selling pieces front and centre.

Reformation's tech-enabled San Francisco store
Reformation’s tech-enabled San Francisco store

The touchscreens meanwhile were influenced by Tesla, where there are similarly minimal models on display and instead digital interfaces that showcase the detail of everything you can purchase. “I bought a Tesla in a showroom and it left a profound impression on me,” Aflalo told Fast Company. “Usually buying a car is so difficult and horrible. But buying a Tesla on a flatscreen monitor was so easy that I wondered if I was doing it right: I picked the color I wanted, entered my address, and swiped by credit card, then it was all done. My car showed up a month later.”

Customers to the Reformation store can use the touchscreens to explore looks they like, and then select them to arrive in the dressing room. Much like the Rebecca Minkoff and Ralph Lauren experiences, that connected space allows users to request additional sizes, colours or styles, as well as do things like change the lighting and play your own music.

Aflalo says she’s already planning the next steps, including a system that merges both the online and offline experience in a literal sense – allowing shoppers to purchase an item there and then to have it sent home, or to pre-order at home and have them ready for you to try on when you come in.

The store opens at 914 Valencia Street in San Francisco on February 21.

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social media Uncategorized

Social media proves the new press release for DKNY in faux #UK2012 video

You’re opening a new store in London. What do you do… A) send out a press release, B) announce it via social media, or C) make a video that explains the fact there’s no need for A anymore by demonstrating it happening via B in a faux scenario, and by proxy achieving it via B in real life in anycase.

Still with me?

Check out this new video from DKNY (starring “socialmedialites” including @psimadethis, @cocorocha, @bagsnob and more) that plays on each of the above themes to promote the opening of the brand’s new Bond Street store in London this weekend. Fake hashtag: #UK20112, but given the fact we’re now all talking about it that’d be a real hashtag too.

As put by DKNY PR Girl herself: “#Socialmedia really is the new press release!”