“Experience” NYC Retail

I had the (rare) fortune last week of having a few moments to check out some of the latest retail concepts in New York. And knowing in the back of my mind that “experience” might be the most overused word in retail in 2017, I went in expecting to “experience something” and let’s just say NYC retail didn’t let me down. Whether it be interactive, personalized or just over the top grandeur in flagship scale, there was plenty to check out and really dive deep into some of the brand stories. Some of my favorites included:

The new Google experience was pure delight — letting all of us feel like “we were kids again”. Playing with “big kid toys” via the VR goggles, the AR merchandising presentations, and even the Stranger Things Photo Experience and “Photo Booth” brought pure play into the shopping experience (and all executed fairly simply). The associates did a phenomenal job continuously highlighting the features and benefits of the products that were delivering the “experiences”. Thanks Google for offering a moment of respite on a cold fall day — for a second we forgot we were shopping!


American Eagle
Unbeknownst to us we arrived on opening day! Two things made this an exceptional experience: 1. The associates. They could not have been more proud of the store and were happy to show it off and 2. The open platform for the store mixing retail, customization and dwell time into a cohesive space that felt part retail, part atelier, part studio space and part hip hangout. We were impressed with AE‘s customization offering; it initially appeared like minor accessories could be added to your denim wear, but apparently their associates have already pulled off some pretty impressive, custom denim looks for customers. As well we were drawn to the real estate dedicated to supporting customers – offering free laundry for local college students as well as a cooperative work space and lounge.

Adidas 5th Avenue Flagship
I always love it when brands go big and go bold. The Adidas Flagship on 5th Avenue does just that, creating a customer journey that intertwines a voluminous environment with a mix of personal spaces, customized experiences, retail vignettes and educational platforms. While the product is truly hero presented via dynamic visual merchandising stories, it’s the unexpected moments at every turn that really bring this brand experience to life. Whether it be the testing area for product trial, the print shop for personalization, the customized shoe shop offering curated opportunities or the juice bar (yes, even refreshments have been incorporated to align with the brand) there are experiences for every athlete.

YSL Pop-up 
Perfect for the holidays, YSL created a simple, yet well-choreographed experience for its SoHo pop-up. Highlighting both fragrance and cosmetics, the store brought trial to the forefront. Having their national style artist there was the perfect start for one-on-one consultations, but the brand married that with a “virtual trial” system that was flawless in updating selections in the moment. And to top it off you could fully customize your product case via in-store engraving in only a matter of seconds with the design of your choice.

In conclusion, in NYC it was clear there were “experiences” aplenty—only question now is how will brands extend “these experiences” to second and third tier cities across the country? If customers today rely on “experiences” they must be applicable across formats and regions and entice the masses and gain momentum. Can’t just rely on a “moment in NYC”.

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