GDR NRF Newsletter August 2018

Shoe store fuses online and offline with experiential retail space

Sportswear retailer Runner Camp has opened a new concept store in Shanghai that removes the physical purchase altogether.

Instead, the first floor of the space, designed by Prism Design and Office Coastline, is used primarily for customers to try on footwear. A running track is marked out on the floor so customers can put sneakers through their paces. A screen at one end of the track also displays analytics from the test run to the customer. Once a pair of shoes has been chosen, purchases are made on iPads and delivered to the customer's address.

The second floor of Runner Camp’s Shanghai store is not used for retail at all, and instead provides a range of services for customers to enjoy post-purchase. These include a gym facility, shower rooms and locker area. Digital technology is used to enrich the customer’s experience here, too. An interactive exercise area features LED screens displaying statistics gathered from sensors in the floor.

By taking payment online and delivering products to customers, a huge amount of space is freed up to enhance the customer experience, — space that would otherwise have been used to house stock.

Eataly opens theme park focused on Italian cuisine

Italian market chain Eataly has opened FICO Eataly World, a 1 million-square-foot food-based theme park in Bologna that provides visitors with a vast experiential tour of Italian cuisine.

The park has plenty of attractions including a 30,000-square-foot market, classes on how to make fresh pasta and gelato and truffle hunting expeditions, as well as more than 45 trattorias, Michelin-starred restaurants, bistros, street-food kiosks and bars.

FICO, an acronym for Fabbrica Italiana Contadina (“Italian farming factory") has on-site farms, part of its commitment to showing how food is grown and made.

The experience aims to introduce visitors to traditional Italian foods while also educating them on the importance of where that food comes from. And, at 1 million square feet, it is more than 20 times the size of the biggest Eataly in the US.

John Lewis frames new store around unique experiences and exclusive products

John Lewis’ new flagship store in London’s Westfield White City is built around personal services and unique experiences that will drive customers to the physical location.

The 230,000-square-foot department store includes a personal styling space known as The Style Studio and a Discovery Room, where customers will be able to learn skills and get advice about how best to shop specific categories.

The retailer has also repeated the successful Experience Desk proposition from its Oxford location, which offers a personalised, concierge-style service that plans each customer’s visit around the more than 30 in-store experiences on offer.

To give the vast department store a more idiosyncratic, eclectic feel, the boutique-style “Loved and Found” section showcases a bespoke selection of fashion items. At launch 35% of these products were own brand, or exclusive to the store, which is something John Lewis is aiming to increase to 50%.

Another one of the store’s unique offerings is its Apple Smart Home experience area, which is the first in Europe.

In other words, not only is the location focused on giving customers experiences and branded engagements they can only get in-store, it also has a core offering of products that cannot be purchased elsewhere.

Autonomous convenience store drives to its customers

Moby is a solar-powered, autonomous convenience store being trialled in Shanghai, China. The structure, which is on wheels, resembles a pop-up shop with glass panels in the place of walls. Using an app, customers can check the location of a Moby or summon the store to their location, which proposes a radically new format for on-demand delivery and convenience.

A holographic sales assistant, Hol, greets customers and is able to help place orders for products not currently in stock. Purchasing from the Moby store is similar to the Amazon Go experience. All purchases are tallied and completed via the app. If customers do not want to visit the store, they can order via the app and their goods will be delivered by one of four on-board drones.

The store is open 24 hours and has proprietary machine learning baked in so it can keep an up-to-date inventory based on what has been purchased. If stock runs out, it will drive itself to the warehouse to replenish its cargo.

The Moby Store is an adaptable space and functions as a convenience store, a mini pharmacy, a coffee shop and ATM. It has on-board first aid equipment, including defibrillators for emergencies.

Shanghai has one of the world’s worst air pollution problems, so an air filtration device has been integrated to filter smog and clean up the air of the neighbourhoods it passes through.