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Monday
Jun132016

GlobalShop: A Mixture of New and Old

Pusateri’s market located inside Saks

GlobalShop, the largest annual visual merchandising trade show and conference for the retail design industry, always features an interesting mix of the retail industries finest. It’s a mixture of retail design professionals from international brands, design firms, and manufacturers. We all attend for the same reason: to learn, network, and find something new and inspiring to bring back to our respective businesses. Here are highlights from two of my favorite sessions at the 2016 show.

Keynote Speaker: Karen Katz

This year’s keynote speaker was Karen Katz, President and CEO of Neiman Marcus. When Karen Katz started the eCommerce interchange 17 years ago, she probably didn’t know exactly what she was in for. With eCommerce now making-up 30% of their sales, Neiman Marcus is evolving this new way of business like the champions they are. Karen enthusiastically informed attendees that Neiman Marcus’ store in New York City will open in the Fall of 2019 and will bookend the Whitney on the West and the Highline in the Hudson Yard redevelopment. Gensler’s New York office has been engaged to create a design for this store that is open and foregrounds the contemporary shop-in-shop experiences.

Karen continued to emphasize that Neiman’s customers are not only at the center of everything the company does but help shape the DNA of the Neiman Marcus brand. Neiman’s well-edited assortments allow it to develop lifelong relationships with customers from around the world. The retailer is also a prominent force in the community, giving back through art education for the youth. Art is such an important part of the design of Neiman stores—the company owns over 2,500 pieces of art.

For my part, I’ve noticed a shift in the industry and the way the customer shops. With so many products available, consumers sometimes don’t know what to do with all the accessibility available to them. As a result, they don’t “plan” to make purchases anymore – instead, they want to buy in times of “need.”

As designers of forward-thinking retail spaces, Gensler is expected to create store experiences for customers that provide responses to “why.” Our work addresses the need for an immersive experience that applies technology in a purposeful, value adding ways.

Another example of integrating eCommerce into the physical store is how Neiman Marcus provided sales associates with iPhones last year to better support their customers. They also created an app for customer data mining and analysis so that they did not replicate the online experience but could provide better service.

I left the keynote speech with thoughts running through my mind: How do we think of crowdsourcing? How to use virtual reality? How can Gensler adopt the way Neiman Marcus approached their customers?

We will need to be bold; we will need to have the strength to take risks, even when we don't know the reward.

Food is Fashion

There is no denying that apparel sales have become flat while the food and beverage industry is fizzing. Apparel store traffic is down 8.9% and store visits decreased from 18 visits a month in 2013 to an all-time low of eight visits in 2015. This is a recipe for decreased apparel sales. In prepared foods, there has been a 10% increase and restaurant sales are up by 4%. eCommerce currently composes 7.3% of retail sales, and it is projected that by 2019 it will rise of 14%.

So, what does all this mean? There seems to be a trend in traditional retailers partnering with food and beverage companies to create new and engaging experiences.

Marks & Spencer, a British multinational retailer, has been thinking about this trend for some time. They recently launched an ad campaign with the idea of food inspiring fashion. The retailer had a vision of shopping and relaxing coming together.

Food halls go back to the 19th century after the industrial revolution. So, while not a new idea, it is a trend that is picking up momentum.

Larger retailers are seeking opportunities to embed food halls in their stores. Some of these retailers include:

  • Saks and Pusateri's five locations
  • Burberry's Thomas London
  • Ralph Lauren The Polo Bar New York City and London
  • Restoration Hardware Chicago
  • KITH New York City
  • D&G and Martini Martini GOLD collaboration
  • Hackett London and Beefeater Beefeater 24 collaboration

The dwell time element is critical to future store success, and an increase of 1% with regards to dwell time goes a long way to increasing sales and ensuring future success.

Kith NYS is a shoe and apparel store in NYC offers a quick snack, cereal served in a shoe box

Each year, I enjoy GlobalShop for the opportunity to network, learn new things through seminars, and find new products at the exhibition. But what has been most fun for me over the last two years is being a part of Gensler and representing a firm that is strong in both Retail and Brand Design and in seeing the overall experience through this new lens.

Sharon Lessard is an influencer of the customer experience. She combines physical, emotional, and sensory elements to bring brands to life and believes creativity is the lens that connects every experience. Contact her at sharon_lessard@gensler.com.