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Coach’s Retail Concept Emphasizes Experience and Connection

With more and more shoppers turning to mobile and online shopping, retailers are rethinking aspects of the in-store experience to keep customers coming back to their brick-and-mortars. After being closed for more than three months, Coach will soon reopen their NYC flagship store, with a renewed emphasis on experience, creating deeper connections between their brand and their customers.

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According to Womens Wear Daily, this marks the first step in a multi-tiered plan to elevate Coach’s customer experience.

From the article:

Enter the new concept store, which the brand is using as a “lab” for future in-store innovation. No aspect of the store has gone untouched — product, design, architecture and display were all up for examination.

“The goal is to elevate and make the area more elegant and sophisticated, but still really warm and approachable,” Della Badia said.

With 3,720 square feet of selling space, the store, which first opened in 2000, formerly mirrored the design of Coach’s other 350 units nationwide: open, white and sparse. The new look aims for a more intimate, luxurious feel with an emphasis on technology. A 12-foot-tall Karlie Kloss appears on a loop on a floor-to-ceiling screen that flanks the front entrance. All employees will now be outfitted with mini-iPads to help expedite the shopping experience — there are no cash registers in sight.

A major goal of the “lab” is to establish the right balance of elevating the company’s reputation within the luxury market while still maintaining its strong brand ethos.

“[The store] speaks to the larger brand transformation effort, which is to take those things in our DNA and bring them forward,” said Della Badia. “We’re taking the essence of the brand and thinking of it in a more modern, elevated way for this first lab.”

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Retailers’ Black Friday Checklist [INFOGRAPHIC]

For most retailers, Black Friday (and the days that follow) is the do-or-die time of the season to boost sales and capitalize on months of campaign planning and execution. The folks over at Firefly Store Solutions created a great infographic outlining the keys to success for retailers to make the most of this hectic shopping holiday.

From their website:

Black Friday is right around the corner and retailers are gearing up for the kind of foot traffic that will turn their balance sheet from red to black. If last year’s numbers are any indication, sales should exceed 60 billion dollars in 2013. Black Friday is crucial to a store’s success and it is imperative that every independent retailer take full advantage of this once-a-year opportunity.

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Infographic by Firefly Store Solutions.

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LogicSource Partners With RBM Technologies To Revolutionize Visual Merchandising Management For Retailers

Combined cloud-based technology offering will empower retailers to deliver a compelling customer-centric experience in each individual retail environment

LogicSource, a leading global sourcing solutions firm, today announced a new partnership with RBM Technologies, a premier provider of cloud-based visual merchandising solutions, that will provide retailers the definitive end-to-end solution for managing their omnichannel environments.

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In recent years, customer centricity has truly become a focal point of retail. Consumers exhibit a strong, positive response to retailers who make an effort to understand them and tailor their merchandising, marketing and promotions accordingly. The combined LogicSource and RBM offering puts retailers in complete control by creating a seamless end-to-end interdepartmental workflow that delivers the most relevant marketing solution for each individual retail location.

Leveraging LogicSource’s OneMarket® industry leading Concept-to-Customer technology platform and RBM’s best-in-class visual merchandising management technologies, the partnership integrates the leading-edge assets necessary to realize more impactful retail campaigns and increase marketing ROI.

These components include OneMarket’s digital asset management, creative approval and Procure-to-Pay applications, and RBM’s store attribute management, visual merchandising planograms and automated production quantity point-of-purchase calculations. By adding Dynamic Rendering to the Concept-to-Customer solution, retail customers have a visualization tool that anticipates the individual idiosyncrasies of each retail environment, enabling them to source, design and deliver accordingly.

“Retailers waste time and money routinely shipping large volumes of campaign support materials — POP displays, signage, fixtures and specialized props — to stores that have different physical layouts,” said Sam Vail, managing partner for LogicSource’s OneMarket business unit. “The combination of OneMarket and RBM will empower retailers by automating the ability to accurately visualize, plan, order and ship the right elements to the right layout — creating significant cost savings.”

“We are pleased to be working with LogicSource and its OneMarket Technology to help eliminate the inefficiencies inherent in store-by-store marketing solutions,” said Jeff Smith, vice president, business development and alliances at RBM Technologies. “Together, our goal is to enable retailers to deliver the right product and messaging, at the right place and time, ensuring customers experience the brand as they envisioned.”

Source: Business Wire

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What Makes an Optimal Retail Store Layout?

Have you ever walked out of a retail store and spent twice as much as you planned? If so, don’t blame yourself. The truth is, all of the displays, counters and aisles have been systematically organized to influence spending. There is a science to how retail stores arrange and prioritize their floor space and the most successful businesses know how to keep a customer spending far beyond their shopping list.

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Store layout is merely one of the many secrets to retail shopping. And with the Holiday season upon us, retail stores across the country have begun introducing their seasonal layouts to make their products irresistible to your holiday spirit.

The methodology is intriguing and goes deep into the human psyche for maximum impact. Here are five techniques retail stores use to optimize their layout:

Create the Ideal Layout

There are many ways to lead customers through the aisles and it all depends on the type of store. For example, most grocery stores adopt a grid layout to wind customers up and down the aisles. Setting up attention-grabbing displays at the end of an aisle will make the customer walk past all of the other items on the way.

Electronics stores tend to use a loop layout with a circular path around merchandise in the middle. Free flowing layouts encourage shoppers to freely walk throughout the store and are used by many specialty stores. The shape and size of the sales floor and items for sale will ultimately determine the layout.

Build a Sensational Entrance

A perfect store layout means nothing if customers aren’t attracted to walk inside. In addition to eye-catching signage, storefronts typically display colorful or interesting products to create a desire to explore.

When customers first enter a store it is important to not obstruct their entrance with checkout counters or service areas. It is also wise to avoid placing merchandise in the first 15 feet of the entrance, also known as the “decompression zone.” A better approach is to put up in-store displays known as “speed bumps,” that slow the customer down and grab their attention.

Prevent the “Butt Brush” Effect

Nobody likes to have their personal space invaded, especially when shopping. This theory was confirmed when famed customer behavior expert Paco Underhill performed a study observing a shopper’s resistance to pursue merchandise in close proximity to someone else—even if they are highly interested.

An easy remedy for this situation is to provide wide aisles and adequate space between displays and tables. Losing a sale because a customer felt too confined is unacceptable because it’s avoidable. Having extra space allows more than one shopper to browse the same area.

Personalized Shopping Experience is King, Shopper Marketing

Create a Visual Break

Customers get bored walking down a long aisle; which means they are not paying attention to a lot of the merchandise on the racks. As a matter of fact, Ikonic Tonic chief experience officer Brian Dyches believes up to “20 percent of the store’s merchandise is skipped over” which is a large enough statistic to act upon.

One way to reignite the shopping spirit is with signs and displays halfway down a long aisle. If the customer stops to examine the display, their interest has been reawakened by a cleverly positioned visual break.

Minimize Counter Size

When a store has tall, bulky counters it can make the customer uncomfortable during checkout. There is a psychological effect in play here, so it is wise to have counters at a lower level with plenty of space for their items. Shoppers waiting for checkout are susceptible to impulse buying and need to be happy, not flustered.

If it’s a slow time, advise employees to wander the sales floor. This will make the store appear busier and also make them available to answer questions. Once a customer is ready to checkout, the employee can ring them up on the spot or escort them back to the register.

About the Author:
Kristen Gramigna is Chief Marketing Officer for BluePay, a credit card processing solutions firm, and also serves on its Board of Directors. She has more than 15 years experience in the bankcard industry in direct sales, sales management and marketing.

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Macy’s promotions and omni-channel strategy paying off

Macy’s third quarter report saw over a 30% rise in profits, which is good news considering the holiday shopping season will be shortened this year with a late Thanksgiving. This is owed in part to their positive execution of their omni-channel strategy and localized promotion tactics.

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According to the Los Angeles Times, CEO Terry Lundgren said they were entering Q4 “with confidence.”

From the article:

It’s a telling statement, considering that the holidays — which account for as much as 40% of a retailer’s annual sales — can cushion some companies for months afterward or render others investor pariahs.

This year the pressure is even heavier because retailers have only four weekends between the two holidays to push their merchandise, compared to five last year.

Macy’s, which also owns the Bloomingdale’s brand, said it intensified its marketing strategies in the third quarter and boosted its omnichannel efforts, helping shoppers move seamlessly from digital to brick-and-mortar consumption.

Same-store sales at units open at least a year rose 3.5%. Overall revenue jumped 3.3% to $6.3 billion.

The company maintained its projections from August, predicting that same-store sales would be up 2.5% to 4% in the second half of the year.

In afternoon trading in New York, Macy’s stock was up 9.6%, or $4.42, to $50.76 a share.

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Modern Retail Trends [INFOGRAPHIC]

The National Retail Federation published a great infographic with a look into social media’s role in modern retail.

From the NRF website:

Pin it, scan it or share it – operating in a digital world has become second nature for most shoppers today, and retailers are taking full advantage of it. The use of social media platforms and mobile devices is exploding, and for millions of consumers there’s no doubt that this digital revolution is here to stay. With the understanding that this new path to purchase offers up a unique engagement opportunity, retailers are taking over the social scene, and shoppers are reaping the benefits. In this new modern retail environment, the shopping experience has never been quicker, easier or more interactive.

National Retail Federation modern retail infographic

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Lululemon’s new Vancouver Concept Store Puts the Consumer in the Design Chair

Ever wanted to have an active hand in creating a pair of active pants? Well now you can at Lululemon’s new Vancouver concept store. According to Financial Post, this new store allows customers to work alongside designers to create new styles for their popular workout pants.

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From the article:

Lululemon’s Lab store is a bright sunlit space with high ceilings, steps from the Olympic Village and a short drive from where the Canadian athletic wear company opened its first store in Vancouver. It’s where in-the-know fans go to scoop up limited editions of designs that may make it into the retailer’s other stores.

But it’s mostly an ideas incubator for the retailer, where the designers go far beyond the stretchy black yoga pants that helped Lululemon become a household name.

In addition to the Lab’s take on yoga and exercise clothes, plenty of what is for sale isn’t for stretching or sweating. Elegant pants and skirts are draped over hangers. Dark coloured dresses and tops in neutral colours tempt shoppers. The designers are looking to dress their customers from morning to night.

“It offers something different, especially in Vancouver where they’ve had access to the brand for years now,” said Lacey Norton, the Lab’s general manager.

“We’re constantly looking at how we create a unique experience.”

Norton is dressed top to bottom in Lab clothes — a pair of navy blue crop pants, a collarless black fleece jacket and a linen top.

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Retailers rethinking store designs with mobile in mind

For years, Apple’s retail stores were seen as the zenith of the retail experience. Brick-and-mortar shoppers evolved to demand inspiration from their favorites stores, finding products that fit into their life seamlessly. As we recently posted, this trend extends to many other major retailers including AT&T.

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According to Mobile Marketer, the influence of mobile can be seen as a major driving force in the design or redesign of retail stores. Shoppers are used to being able to shop for anything they want, when they want, and the that experience now translates to the storefront.

From the article:

In the past, stores were designed with departments and aisles to influence shopper behavior with an eye toward encouraging shoppers to view as many products as possible and add more items to their baskets.

However, increasingly retailers are looking at eliminating departments and creating more open retail spaces populated with thematic zones.

For example, AT&T recently unveiled a new store format intended to reflect customers’ mobile lifestyle where café-style learning tables replace cash registers.

The store layout highlights products and services in three different thematic areas. In the Connected Experience, shoppers can see how solutions can be used in their everyday lives. The Community Zone features an open and interactive space where customers can test products. In the Explore Zone, there are digital monitors to highlight AT&T’s lineup.

Thomson, a British travel agency, with multiple locations also recently unveiled a new store format also focused on enabling more hands-on experiences where associates and customers work together more closely. It includes interactive tables where customers can research holidays.

The customer-facing interface uses advanced touch and transition elements to make it feel like an app.

Social media feeds are streamed onto the screens to inspire customers and give them a feel of what to expect from a vacation.

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Target’s new artsy Grand Central pop-up shop

If you are walking through Grand Central this week, chances are you will see quite an unusual installation that bridges retail and art. In support of a new bath and beauty line, Target has created a pop-up shop in the high-traffic area that features a floating bathtub and retail shop, according to Chain Store Age.

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From the article:

Target is celebrating the launch of Sonia Kashuk’s new line bath and body products collection with a larger-than-life art installation and pop-up store in New York City’s Grand Central Station. The centerpiece of the space is a gleaming white bathtub on a platform that is raised some eight feet off the floor. A live model sits in the tub, which is surrounded by bubble-like balloons.

The new line, which includes shower gels, body lotions, loofas and shower caps, is on display in the pop-up and available for sale.

In tandem with the launch, the brand is running an Instagram contest: Four winners who tag #skbody will be entered to win “a full scent family of products.”

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Lessons from AT&T’s Store Designs

Two years ago AT&T’s President of Retail, Paul Roth, set out to redesign over 2,300 AT&T retail stores throughout North America. According to Retail Customer Experience, his approach was to create store experiences that are about personalized service and educating the shopper.

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From the article:

The redesign caters to exactly that purpose. The new AT&T stores offer learning tables that facilitate an intimate and personalized conversation between a customer and a store agent. This should encourage education and a more intense, direct interaction. Store agents help customers to set up their devices, they explain and demonstrate new features of smartphones and tablets, help facilitate any returns, exchanges, or hardware replacements in case of a problem, and ensure the customer can make an informed decision in purchasing a new product. Experience zones let customers try products in a connected context; for example smartphones are paired with different speaker options, allowing potential purchasers to hear the differences between smartphones and test out their Bluetooth connection speeds.

AT&T’s initiative ties into a new trend of redefining in-store retail. This trend is especially important for product categories such as electronic devices and other technologies that require a higher level of customer support before and after purchase. Remember that smartphones and tablets are still new to many people – and they can be complex. “There needs to be a place to discover them and to learn how to get the most out of them”, said Apple CEO Tim Cook on the fringe of a product demonstration last year in San Jose. Apple Stores are probably the best known retail innovation of the last decade. Today, Apple has the most profitable retail stores in the world.

A cornerstone of Apple’s retail concept is the Genius Bar that provides technical support for Apple products. Ron Johnson, Apple’s former Retail Head, has often referred to the Genius Bar as the “heart and soul of our stores.” According to a study by NPD Group, nine of ten Apple customers are more likely to make another Apple purchase following their support experience at Genius Bar – it is now a major success story despite some challenges in the beginning. “Nobody came to the Genius Bars during those first years. I remember going into a store one evening, and no geniuses were on duty. I asked what happened, and the manager told me that there were no customers, and so they sent the genius home,” explained Johnson in an interview with Harvard Business Review. “But despite that, I had a belief—a conviction—that face-to-face support was going to be much better for customers than phone and web support, which are often really frustrating and ineffective. So we stuck with it, and gradually customers started coming. Three years later the Genius Bars were so popular that we had to set up a reservation system to manage the demand.”