Consulting giant McKinsey & Company opens first-ever store — a lab for retailers

It’s not your typical mall store.

Consulting giant McKinsey & Co., in collaboration with Mall of America, unveiled a laboratory-styled retail concept, called Modern Retail Collective, at the nation’s largest shopping mall. The store offers retailers the opportunity to work with McKinsey and Mall of America to test new technologies and “discover what’s possible when multiple technologies, analytics and store operations work together to elevate in-store experiences,” according to a company statement. 

Modern Retail Collective, which opened on Sept. 27 and has about 2,500 sq. ft. of selling space, will remain open for at least 12 to 18 months. It will be refreshed every three to four months with new technologies, brands and experiences designed around a theme. (The first iteration of the store is designed around discovery.) Profits from all purchases will go directly to the retailers.

The store’s opening line-up features four fashion and beauty brands — Elevé Cosmetics; Kendra Scott; ThirdLove; and type:A Deodorant — and an array of technology companies. The tech participants include Chatter Research; Compass Marketing; ComQi, FaceCake; Farfetch; Flexa; Microsoft; MSM Solutions; Smartrac; Square; RetailNext; and Zebra Technologies.  

The featured technologies include:

• Smart mirrors with extended product catalogs and fit predictor software that allows virtual trial of products outside the fitting room;

• Interactive mobile hotspots will be located throughout the space providing single-tap access to product details and reviews, and allow customers to create a virtual basket as they go; 

• Seamless payment options, including RFID, mobile checkout and cryptocurrency capabilities to support easier, faster purchases; 

•Integration of products and smart devices blends tactile and digital elements, creating an immersive, customizable shopping experience only available in -store; and 

• Integrated cloud infrastructure will capture cutting-edge data across the customer journey, turning the store into a data collection hub. 

In early 2020, Modern Retail Collective’s lineup of retailers and tech players will change to reflect its next installment, which will focus on tech-enabled service and personalization.

“Modern Retail Collective will provide insights to retailers exploring opportunities to re-imagine the store through new instore experiences and technologies that will enhance customer experience and overall store performance, said Tiffany Burns, partner in McKinsey’s Atlanta office and retail stores practice lead, North America. 
The technologies being deployed in the store reflect McKinsey research, which shows that 60% of consumer apparel journeys include a digital touchpoint for research, transaction or both. In addition, McKinsey research shows omnichannel shoppers spend more, purchase twice as often and engage over longer periods of time compared to single-channel shoppers. McKinsey said it will publish perspectives on insights gained through Modern Retail Collective to help inform and shape the future retail industry.

“Modern Retail Collective will unlock the power of multiple technologies working together to cultivate pioneering insights retailers need to transform their customer experience,” said Praveen Adhi, partner in McKinsey’s Chicago office and retail operations lead, Americas. “Through this project, we’ll produce cutting edge data and analytics to help retailers define their own vision for their store of the future.” 

Mall of America is providing the retail space as well as its expertise on store design and buildout. 

“Mall of America recognizes the importance of evolving the consumer experience and has been leading efforts to help current and new tenants alike succeed in the everchanging retail landscape,” said Jill Renslow, senior VP of business development for Mall of America. “Modern Retail Collective will offer brands a flexible environment to test new technology and discover what resonates with their customers.

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