By WayfinD Editorial Staff
Retailers have focused too long on their operations and store ROI and haven't put enough emphasis on the type of personal shopping experience consumers are craving. And no, the answer isn't omni-channel. Have you ever heard a consumer say – man I wish store X had a better omni-channel strategy?! Doubtful. The answer is one-to-one service. The return to service dominated stores with extensive, specialized product knowledge. That's the essence of this new, yet old, era of retail. It's what we call The Third Wave.
What is Third Wave retail? It's an experience and an emotionally based space with a meaningful social ethos, and one of the three fundamental strategies our industry must adopt if they want to be around much longer. It requires the revival of older tactics, but reinterpreted and reapplied.
On a recent trip to New York City, we decided to look at the best of Third Wave retail. And now we want to share with you the brands creating experiences customers want to engage with.
Target's new 43,000-square-foot, two- story store in the heart of Herald Square is their 55th small format concept (the second in NYC), demonstrating a key part of the discount retailer's strategy to serve the shopper better. The new store offers curated merchandise tailored to the local shopper, same day two-hour delivery, and the transformation of their associates into "concierges" that will be trained as product experts. Could this store BE any more New York?!
While large department stores close their doors, Target is leaning into its physical footprint by following the consumer, which in many cases is urban areas. Their plan is to open 130 small format stores by 2019, which generate twice the sales per square foot of its traditional big-box locations.
Restoration Hardware, which has rebranded itself as "RH", and is in the process of designing multiple next-generation stores like the RH Gallery in the historic Flatiron District. The showrooms are key to a strategy to double in size and offer the largest collection of luxury furniture in the country.
RH Galleries are proven to be a destination within the communities they reside. Who wouldn't want to live in this place? With its palace-like showrooms, RH has embraced the retail-as-destination concept as other companies and mall operators have to compete with the convenience and range of online shopping.
American Eagle revitalized its old Union Square store in NYC, turning it into an experiential mecca where they make customers feel at home by inviting them to curate their individual style. The new store, called AE Studio, aspires to build community and interaction with the brand.
AE Studio features an in-store 'Maker's Shop' where customers can create one-of- a-kind pieces from AE's jeans collection. There's a dedicated social media team in store to interact with consumers and develop real time content. One of the most unique features is a free laundry service offered to students. As brands struggle to find relevant ways to increase foot traffic falls and in-store time, the laundromat is an unexpected way to rise to this challenge.
Online retailer, Everlane, opened its first physical retail store in late 2017, making a major departure from the company's original vision. In response to customer demand, they made the decision to open stores so shoppers can buy online, but return products in a store.
The flagship carries many of the company's best sellers, including T-shirts, cashmere, denim and shoes. Although the store is small — 2,000 square feet, it allows the company to reach new shoppers and interact more closely with existing ones. Bigger isn't always better.
Allbirds second physical storefront recently opened in New York's SoHo neighborhood. The goal of the store was to design and build an immersive retail concept, invoking the comfort, playfulness, and efficiency of the Brand.
Features include a shoe bar where customers are served their orders quickly and efficiently by and Allbird's bartender and a human-sized hamster wheel so customers can take their try-on experience to a new level.
Skateboards, related gear, sneakers and house-brand streetwear make this SoHo shop a skater mecca. The now world-renowned brand can be found on celebrities, models, young kids and musicians alike, with small sneaker stores all over the world.
They release two lines each year, dropping a few new products each Thursday. On those days, the stores will be packed and the streets lined with young kids for blocks waiting to purchase the new exclusive products.