GDR NRF Newsletter January 2018

Customers can only enter premium footwear store if they give their phone number

South African footwear brand Anatomy sells limited-edition sneakers – but customers can only enter its physical store if they are happy to give up their mobile phone number.

To enter Anatomy, customers must first enter their phone number into an iPad embedded in the shop’s exterior. This will then lead to a pin number being texted to them. Entering the code will open the door to the store.

The retailer then uses the phone number to send the customer special offers and product information. This ensures that their relationship with the brand continues after they’ve left the store.

It also acts as an added security measure. Anatomy is situated in Braamfontein, a district in Johannesburg with a high crime rate. “We were briefed to come up with an alternate system to tag sensors to try prevent theft,” said Nicholas Christowitz, director at creative agency The Bread. “The idea is that people would be slightly less inclined to scope the place out, or shoplift, if they needed to give the store their working mobile number to gain access.

“It also gives the store a cool, exclusive feel. Friends of the shop are given a generic code with which they can gain access quickly.”

Anatomy not only sells limited-edition and exclusive footwear from brands such as adidas and Nike, but also offers a relaxed space for local creatives to meet and socialise, with a large flat screen TV, PlayStation and sofas to enjoy.

“We wanted it to feel like a sneakerhead clubhouse of sorts, hence the lounge area and PS4. There is also Wi-Fi and three iPads for people to surf the net on. The store encourages people to hang around a bit and just talk about street culture in general,” added Christowitz.

Bookstore takes customers on magical journey to the end of the rainbow

China-based Zhonghuge bookstore takes customers on a whimsical journey of discovery through four unique zones designed by Wutopia Lab architects.

At the entrance ‘The Sanctuary of Crystal’ is where new titles are merchandised. The ethereal room is designed to look as though the books are floating in air, displayed on suspended transparent acrylic shelves. The walls of the room are tiled in glass bricks and mirrors to create a shining white space drawing customers towards the books on display.

In stark contrast ‘The Cave of Fireflies’ is a low-lit room featuring hundreds of fibre optic lights hanging from the ceiling. The dark passageway, connecting the entrance and the main retail space beyond, leads customers through the recommended reads and staff picks. This transitional corridor is designed so that there is enough light for customers to select a book that piques their interest, but to read further they must move through the store and into the reading room beyond, a vast space filled with natural light.

Called ‘The Xanadu of Rainbows’, the space is dominated by a rainbow structure made from thin perforated aluminium sheets in gradient colours. This is where customers can dwell and spend time reading books they picked up in ‘The Cave of Fireflies’ or explore other genres. The architect has used different heights of shelves, steps and tables, to create an abstracted landscape of cliffs, valleys, islands and rapids.

The final room is ‘The Castle of Innocence’ for children’s books. Part bookshop, part playhouse, this area features small den spaces built into the shelving for children to explore and interact with. The ceiling is designed to look like the night sky with LED stars and planets.

Hoping to encourage slow shopping and customer discovery, these four very different spaces make for a magical immersive customer journey. The clever use of lighting and materials near the store’s entrance serve to move customers through the space into the main reading room where there is plenty of comfortable seating and natural light inviting them to spend time and explore the books on offer.

Concept cosmetics store offers a purified retreat from Seoul’s polluted streets

South Korean skincare and cosmetics brand Dr Jart+ has opened Filter Space Seoul, a three-storey flagship concept store that champions the three natural elements: water, air and light. The store is positioning itself as an antidote to the unhealthy levels of pollution that exist in the capital city and offers customers a place where they can experience the natural elements in their purest form while being rejuvenated.

The concrete and cubic Brutalism of the building’s exterior is extended into the building, which is reminiscent of a science lab. The floors are grey concrete; the walls are clad with chrome, and metal display counters echo hospital operating tables. Modular seating is positioned throughout the store and a large metal air duct weaves across the showroom floor, bringing visual drama to the space whilst also blocking pollution from making its way into the store and pumping purified air throughout.

Customers are cleansed upon entrance to the store by walking through an ‘air shower’. An elaborate chrome bar serving purified water from glass tankers with ‘drink me’ written on the side increases customer dwell time and encourages relaxation within the space.

The space is illuminated with natural light and one of the showrooms, called the Recipe Room, features a selection of digital screens that are affixed onto the walls like art works showing branded images of empty plates. Headphones are fitted to the wall offering information about skincare ‘recipes’, the brand and the store’s unique concept. Medical apparatus and bell jars are filled with fruit and ferns to highlight the natural ingredients within the products. Light-boxes featuring pictures of pills also line the walls.

Customers can request a personalised consultation with one of Dr Jart’s skincare experts who will offer them a ‘life recipe’ based on their individual skincare needs as well as their mood and overall state of health. Customers then exchange the prescription for products at the discreet pharmacy booths.

Established in 2004, Dr Jart+ is a popular skincare brand across Asia positioned at the higher-end of the cosmetics market. The name Dr Jart+ is a portmanteau of ‘Doctor Joins Art’, which is reflected in the highly stylised design of the store.

In 2015, leading Western beauty brand Estée Lauder bought a stake in Dr Jart+ following a global boom in the popularity of Korean beauty brands.

Luxury Russian department store installs visible robotic stock room

An historic Russian department store has installed a visible robotic system on its shop floor to free up staff to inspire product discovery. Au Pont Rouge was built on the tradition of Western department stores, such as Paris’s Galeries La Fayette or London’s Selfridges, it spans eight floors, and was a key example of the New East’s changing attitudes to consumerism in the 20th century.

“The origins of the department store lay in the accelerated economy expansion and growing affluent middle-class with the Second Industrial Revolution in the late 19th century. At the turn of the 20th century, transformations brought by the digital revolution – the Third Industrial Revolution - and changes in consumption behaviour and social habits challenged the meaning and existence of department stores,” said a representative of Cheungvogl, the architecture firm behind the project.

With this in mind, the latest revamp is a reaction to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Positioned within an open-plan, exhibition-style retail space, the visible robotic system conducts logistic and operational tasks silently in the background. Stock can be moved at a speed of five metres per second. It is located on the second floor and currently handles small to mid-sized items.

Shoppers can use a mobile app to scan items, adding them to a virtual basket, and the robotic system collects and delivers the items to them at the point of sale with a theatrical flourish.

“On the brink of Fourth Industrial Revolution, which interlinks information technologies with automated processes in all aspects of life, there is an immediate need to rethink the core values of the future retail model,” continued Cheungvogl’s spokeman.

The format takes cues from museums; no trading occurs on the shop floor. All product displays are curated by staff, who are on-hand to offer consultation on product ranges. Intellectual exchange is encouraged between customers and staff. The automated system allows customers to spend more time exploring the store and products, presenting a new, hands-free approach to shopping and consumption.

“The human interaction and exchange is made possible by the robot taking on all the labour and conducting the operations silently in the background."