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GDR NRF Newsletter December 13, 2017

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 that 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 the trainers are 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 housing stock.

Speaking to FRAME, founder and creative director of Prism Design, Tomohiro Katsuki, said of the project: “Sales can be done online – so product stock can be minimized, and you can promote sales more efficiently using digital platforms. In this modern era, sales will not improve if a space only serves one function. That is why most physical stores are in trouble, as more and more purchases are done online. Creating an experience that the internet cannot provide is important for physical stores.”

Melissa showcases its footwear with kinetic display featuring suspended shoes

Brazilian footwear brand Melissa’s first London flagship contrasts futuristic technology and LED displays with an iconic Georgian exterior.

Inside, a series of digital installations combine sculptural forms with high-tech innovation. In the main showroom, shoes are embedded into the walls and disguised behind a reflective panel of alternating LED lights.

In another room a kinetic structure features 21 acrylic boxes, each filled with a single Melissa shoe. These respond to the movement of passers-by by rising and falling slowly in a variety of patterns.

Galeria Melissa regularly hosts art exhibitions that coincide with the store’s current shoe collections. Throughout June 2015, the store entrance became an LED multimedia installation with 65 digital screens that displayed a sequence of kaleidoscopic patterns and colours. This Mercury 13 exhibition by Megan Broadmeadow corresponded with the Melissa Star Walker collection, inspired by the Star Wars film franchise. 

Samsung flagship puts experience before product

Samsung has opened a store in New York that sells no products. Samsung 837, as the store is known, instead acts more like a digital playground, providing visitors with a memorable brand experience.

Moving away from traditional ideas around retail, Samsung joins a growing number of stores that are redefining physical retail as places of discovery and theatre.

Less about selling in-store, brands are instead looking at how they can use physical space to immerse customers in the brand experience and complement the e-commerce experience.

Whilst Samsung products feature throughout the three-storey space – which includes a VR tunnel, a music recording studio and home appliances in a demo kitchen – there is no stock available on site for customers to purchase.

“We didn't want it to be a store,” Zach Overton, general manager of the store, explained to Fast Company. “We didn't want it to be about pushing products in people’s faces.”

Customer service, though, still remains a priority. Staff members are on hand to talk about the products, encourage visitors to try them out and guide customers to purchase products they experience in-store through e-commerce channels.

There is also a support centre where Samsung device owners can get their products fixed without having to contact the manufacturer externally.

Hosting a programme of events in-store, customers are encouraged to dwell in the art gallery space, which features technology-based art installations and in the theatre, which includes a three-storey screen made up of 96 Samsung 55-inch televisions and stadium seating. This space will be used to live-stream events and host panels, presentations and film screenings.

Selfridges creates immersive experience exploring the rituals of home life

A Home for All is a new immersive experience that has popped up at London department store Selfridges.

The space, created in partnership with premium British lifestyle store The New Craftsmen, aims to disconnect visitors from the busy shop floor and engage them in wholesome, sensory activities such as grinding spices, peeling potatoes or making bread.

Posing the questions: “What does home mean to you?” and “What makes a house a home?” the project takes visitors on a journey through four areas: Rest, Gather, Play and Cleanse.

On entering the Ultralounge – Selfridges’ installation and exhibition space – customers are invited to ring a bell. A hatch then opens, and visitors are handed a key to unlock the door and are led into the first space. Furnished with hay, woven mats and sleeping bags, this room encourages visitors to ‘Rest,’ to switch off their mobile phones and disconnect from the world outside.

The next area is set out like a kitchen, with a large table for people to ‘Gather’ round and get involved in simple food preparation activities. These sensory tasks are designed to reconnect participants with the tactile pleasure of making things with their hands.

The ‘Play’ area further explores the idea of making and crafting, with a changing programme of events and workshops run by selected makers. And finally ‘Cleanse’ asks visitors to reflect on their experience by blessing a totem with water before emerging back onto the shop floor via The New Craftsmen concession shop.

A Home for All continues Selfridges’ history of creating engaging in-store events and pop-ups; exploring the pleasing rituals and actions which can be neglected in city life, it incentivises brand interaction by offering sanctuary from the stresses of modern living.

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