Should retailers scale hyper-localized store elements chainwide?
Community-driven experiences. Local art and science. Stores as destinations. Product discovery through theater and storytelling. These themes were heard at the recent Future Stores Miami conference where retailers discussed blending the elements that make each local community unique into their store experiences.
Using local designers and artists, many are creating experiential destinations and meeting places with hyper-localized store formats. Foot Locker exemplified this approach with its Powerstore format in New York City’s Washington Heights.
Kambiz Hemati, the former VP, global retail design at the chain, described elements of the store including a central staircase facing the entrance with stadium-style seating areas, facilitating its use as a neighborhood meeting location. Mr. Hemati said that one of the design goals was to create a place where customers could “hang out” as well as shop and browse. The store includes several lounge areas for use as a community gathering spot.
Foot Locker worked with local artists to create a mural over the store entrance and to decorate fitting rooms and other areas with “street art” flair, creating a more welcoming environment.
The retailer also worked with three local designers to produce unique items sold exclusively at this location. The products sold out in the first 24 hours of availability. Foot Locker is now working with those designers to develop new products.
Other examples of localized experiences included:
- DSW adding nail salons to seven stores to broaden local services offered to shoppers.
- UNOde50 adapting two store locations to reflect the local community’s style and architecture.
- Office Depot converting part of two stores into co-working spaces and podcast studios for local small businesses to rent.
- Levi’s redesigning its store layout using modular structures to tell the brand’s “fit and style” story to customers as they walk through the store. Customers then end their shopping journey at a personalization counter where they can customize their purchases.
A common question asked at the Future Stores conference was how retailers would scale such experiences across store fleets and formats. Mr. Hemati commented that, while Foot Locker does not believe these experiences are scalable to the average mall store, it could be possible to develop micro-experience versions that would scale. He and others acknowledged that, the more localized the experiences, the more difficult it would be to scale the implementation across all stores.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: As retailers and brands open more localized, community-driven stores, how will they scale the experiences to the rest of their store fleets? What is the right mix of store formats and sizes retailers should adopt?