First Look: Bed Bath & Beyond transforms New York flagship

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Bed Bath & Beyond has completely reimagined the shopping experience of its New York City flagship. 

Opening on July 22 and undergoing remodeling since last December, the two-level, 92,000-sq.-ft. store, at 620 6th Avenue in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, offers a transformed retail experience.  Gone are the outdated fixtures and the dizzying disarray of merchandise stacked so high it resulted in what Bed Bath & Beyond called  'shopping paralysis.' 

 The improvements include lower sightlines, wider aisles, better (and bolder) signage and neatly arranged products (and less of them —  the numbers of SKUs has been   reduced by about 40%) that make the space easier to shop.  New floor-to-ceiling windows let natural light into the space.

The checkout experience has also been updated. The redesigned cash wrap area gives customers the option to use a traditional checkout experience or take advantage of one of 14 new self-checkout stations.

"During the pandemic, we quickly realized that contactless transactions were of utmost importance to our shoppers,” Gregg Melnick, Bed Bath & Beyond’s executive VP, chief stores officer, said during a pre-opening store tour. “Before our remodel, we conducted a self-checkout pilot that revealed 70% of the store’s shoppers preferred to use the technology. We quickly pivoted and expanded the self-checkout experience.”

There are more than 20 "merchandising experiences" throughout the space, which is organized by rooms. Bed Bath & Beyond's owned brands, which are crucial to the chain's turnaround effort, are prominently displayed. 

The renovated flagship is part of the retailer's $250 million, three-year project to update 450 stores in line with its overall transformation strategy. The company plans to modernize about 150 stores annually. Key elements from the flagship will be incorporated into the updated stores.

[Read More: Bed Bath & Beyond COO talks about elevating the customer experience]

Bed Bath & Beyond has partnered with several leading brands to create unique experiences at its flagship, including an in-store shop dedicated to Casper. It's the sleep company's first-ever branded shop-in-shop.

Other experiences include a SodaStream Bubble Bar, where customers can purchase and personalize SodaStream bottles. On-site mixologists provide customers with drink ideas and lessons, while demonstrating how to use the device. A barista cafe concept serves La Colombe coffee and pastries, along with other food and drink items. 

The flagship also offers experiential in-store trials, designed to eliminate the guesswork often associated with buying household gadgets. For example, the health and beauty section features several electric devices — from hair dryers to electric razors — that can be held and powered on by customers. Integrated digital display screens enable users to learn more about brands and merchandise functionality. 

Similarly, the home care section features an area where shoppers can try out vacuums and see how different models perform on assorted forms of typical household dirt.

On the tech side, flagship customers can use the  in-store shopping mode on Bed Bath & Beyond's mobile app to better navigate the store, view additional product information  and create registry lists. QR codes are prominently displayed throughout to create 'endless aisles' that make it easy for customers to shop for additional colors, sizes and products.

The flagship reopening also marks the debut of Bed Bath & Beyond's new "scan and buy" feature that enables customers to immediately make purchases as they shop and bypass the check-out line. 

Bed Bath & Beyond also created a dedicated area for online order pickup. online, with all orders ready within an hour. Customers also have the option of curbside pickup. The store, along with its two other Manhattan locations,  guarantees same-day delivery to all of New York City.

“We wanted to bring our newly renovated Bed Bath & Beyond store to life by fusing digital and physical retail,” Rafeh Masood, the company’s executive VP, chief digital officer, said during the tour. 

Reflecting Bed Bath & Beyond's recently announced environmental, social and governance (ESG), the store is supported by a team of associates from throughout the city and utilizes energy efficient measures to help reduce its overall carbon footprint. The measures include replacing fluorescent lights with LED lights, installing occupancy sensors and timers for lighting and upgrades in energy-efficient HVAC and fans for temperature control.

"We set out a bold strategic plan last October to become a digital-first, omni-always retailer," said Bed Bath & Beyond president and CEO Mark Tritton. "A key component of our plan is modernizing our stores to significantly elevate in-store shopping experiences while optimizing their role in our digital-first, omni-always approach to help customers unlock the magic in every room of their homes. Our Chelsea flagship has served local community for decades. We're proud to invest here and add to New York City's 'return to normal' to serve residents and visitors alike."