Tracking the pulse of the temporary retail industry.
Cash register receipts point to an undeniable trend: consumers are more value-oriented than ever before and are on the lookout for good deals. Retailers like American Eagle Outfitters, Abercrombie & Fitch and Express are reacting to this data by opening additional outlet locations across the United States this year. The fact is, Express’ 41 outlet stores generated $55 million in incremental revenue in 2014 and that number is expected to grow this year. That’s the kind of money no company wants to leave on the table. Even retailers like Bloomingdale’s are acknowledging this pattern in consumer spending. This fall, the company will open its first urban outlet in New York City’s Upper West Side.
The movement in this part of the marketplace is so strong that it’s actually spurred the need for entire outlet malls near or within cities. In years past, outlet mall shopping was relegated to suburbia but that is changing with The Fashion Outlets of Chicago (just 16 miles from the city), Assembly Row in Somerville (just eight miles from Boston) and The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk (within New Orleans’ city limits).
Remember that you don’t need to spin off a bargain version of your store, or move into an outlet mall, to compete. However, every cart, kiosk and inline store manager should devise value-oriented sales, promotions and social media campaigns to reach out to consumers that are resistant to paying full price. Creating perceived value is the name of the game in 2015.
Each season, Pantone—the authority on color and provider of professional color standards for the design industries—comes up with a narrative and a rainbow of specific color recommendations for manufacturers and retailers. This spring you can escape all memories of our ugly winter filled with record-setting snowfall by dipping into the color palette of cool, soft and warm tones that the institute has recommended. Aquamarine, tropical blues, Lucite green, custards and warmer tones—including suntan and merlot—are defining the colors of merchandise for spring and summer. Taking a broader look, Pantone says “Marsala”—an earthy wine red—is the overall color for 2015. Keep these recommendations in mind whether you are selling accessories, clothing or home furnishings; designing seasonal signage; or merchandising a new window display. See Pantone’s Fashion Color Report Spring 2015 at pantone.com/spring2015.
Creative fixtures and display units for your next pop-up shop don’t have to be expensive. Designers and architects have long looked to recycled paper, cardboard, wooden pallets and other shipping containers to create trendy, edgy, eco-friendly and inexpensive pop-up shop interiors. From using cardboard cutouts to create faux facades to stacked cartons or cardboard tubes to create a geometric honeycomb that doubles as a merchandise display case, pop-up architects are going to great lengths to design interesting spaces with readily available materials. Urbantainer, a South Korean design company, even created an entire pop-up shop for the search engine, Naver App Square, by covering a metal shipping container with cardboard so customers felt as if they were stepping into a giant box. All of the furniture and accents within the container—like tables, chairs, speakers, and wine bottles—were also crafted out of cardboard.
So, before you spend a lot of cash on the fixtures or props for your next pop-up or RMU, take a look at various cardboard packing and shipping materials that could make for interesting displays.
“The new currency is experiences. People want experiences that they can use to highlight their worth to their friends,” says Alan McKeon, President of Alexander Babbage, a consumer market research firm in Atlanta. These experiences—especially when it comes to the culinary world—must be unique, as in, “We ate in an Alain Ducasse brasserie and the chef came to our table and told us what he was going to prepare just for us.”
While you may think this trend is restricted to high-end restaurants, Westfield Century City is proving it extends all the way to fast-casual comfort food in the form of grilled cheese sandwiches prepared by celebrity chef Eric Greenspan. He opened Greenspan’s Grilled Cheese (greenspansgrilledcheese.com), a temporary pop-up, at the mall in January. Diners can stop by, grab a sandwich and meet the chef. This pop-up joins the ranks of other gourmet grilled cheese restaurants like Tom + Chee at Newport on the Levee in Kentucky, Little Muenster at Brookfield Place in Manhattan and Cheeseboy at Boston’s Shops at Prudential Center.
Everyone is talking about omni-channel retail these days. It’s all about creating a seamless customer experience that marries the brick-and-mortar store with online shopping channels, mobile devices, computers, direct mail, radio, TV and more. While omni-channel may have started with physical stores trying to figure out how to leverage online and mobile retailing, the first quarter of 2015 finds more and more online-only retailers recognizing the need to have a physical presence. This mindset change signals potential new franchise opportunities, or a new kiosk or pop-up shop.
Deborah Byrnes, a Boston-based retail consultant, has her eyes on Birchbox and Serena & Lily. These once online-only purveyors have both opened retail shops recently. Byrnes asks, “Is it chicken or egg? Direct-mail catalog, website or bricks and sticks?” Who is the next online retailer to open off line? Look to Dollar Shave Club, Bluum, Meow Box or Beauty Army. All of these companies are online subscription-based retail clubs that bring products to a customer’s doorstep on a monthly basis. The potential for a retail store or a kiosk to sign up new subscribers is definitely there.
Westfield’s Senior Vice President of Mall Retail, Ted Kaminski, shared an interesting project the company’s been working on: helping Peloton demonstrate and sell its high-tech—and high priced—spinning bikes. He explains that the stationary bike manufacturer has designed a $2,000 spinning bike that is equipped with state-of-the-art monitors that allow the rider to live-stream spinning classes from a New York City fitness studio. Every class offered at the studio is available to live-stream at home via your Peloton bike (for $40 per month), or you can opt for the studio’s on-demand library of more than 400 classes. Kaminski reports two kiosks—one in Century City Center and another in Garden State Plaza—are bringing technology and customer service together into one immersive experience. Peloton has opened multiple locations across the United States. These Westfield stores offer customers a chance to test ride before they buy.
Contributing Expert Insights Provided By… Alan McKeon, President of Alexander Babbage (Atlanta); Deborah Byrnes, Consultant at Deborah Byrnes Retail Consulting (Boston); Ted Kaminski, SVP Mall Retail of Westfield Specialty Leasing (Los Angeles); Pantone