It’s all about the experience at Bed Bath & Beyond’s NYC flagship

Deena Amato-McCoy
SPECS Program Director
Deena Amato-McCoy profile picture

Immersive experiences abound at Bed Bath & Beyond’s reimagined New York City flagship store.

The two-level, 92,000-sq.-ft. store, in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, pulls out all the stops when it comes to creating unique experiences. The remodeled Bed Bath & Beyond location features an array of elements to attract shoppers — and engage their senses.

“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 a private tour prior to the store’s official grand opening on Thursday, July 22.

Chain Store Age got a sneak peek at a variety of the flagship store’s elevated experiences and immersive concepts during the tour. Here are just a few of my favorites:

* SodaStream Bubble Bar: Bed Bath & Beyond has stepped up its partnership with soda machine provider SodaStream by creating a destination complete with on-site trained mixologists demonstrating how to use the beverage-making machine, create drinks and customize beverage bottles. The bubble bar also highlights an expanded SodaStream and “hydration” department that sells the sparking water devices, cylinders and accessories. 

Gregg Melnick, Bed Bath & Beyond’s executive VP, chief stores officer, noted that the Manhattan flagship is the most visited location in the nation to exchange SodaStream’s CO2 carbonated cylinders. It also sells a carbonated canister every seven minutes.

“This is another way for us to offer a product experience that is unique and exclusive,” added Melnick.

* Interactive Trial Departments: The store offers a series of destinations 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. 

“We wanted to create a space where busy New Yorkers can shop for essentials, discover and try, have some fun and treat themselves,” said Mara Sirhal, senior VP, general manager health, beauty consumables, Bed Bath & Beyond, and senior VP and general manager, Harmon Beauty.

Similarly, the store’s home care section features an interactive vacuum department. All displayed vacuums are charged “so customers can see how different models perform against materials,” explained Joe Hartsig, executive VP, chief merchandising officer, Bed Bath & Beyond, and president, Harmon Stores. 

“It is hard to shop for a vacuum, and it can be an expensive purchase,” he added. “We wanted to create a solution to help shoppers try-before-they-buy and pick the right device — something you can’t do online. This [experience] shows the power of brick-and-mortar retail.”

* New Checkout Options: Bed Bath & Beyond is transforming its checkout experience — in more ways than one. For example, the store’s reimagined 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,” Melnick said. “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.”

Bed Bath & Beyond’s updated mobile app also empowers customers to better navigate the store and control their shopping experience. When set to an “in-store shopping mode,” the app enables users to create registries and scan QR codes displayed throughout the store to learn more about merchandise, shop additional colors, sizes and products. An augmented reality (AR) feature lets users scan furniture or a decor item and digitally visualize it in their home.  

In addition, the app’s new "scan and buy" feature enables customers to make purchases right in store aisles, digitally pay and bypass the checkout line. The customer simply has to show their digital receipt to an employee at the exit.

Bed Bath & Beyond also created a dedicated department for shoppers picking up online orders — and all orders are ready within an hour. The store, along with its two other Manhattan locations, now guarantees same-day delivery to all of New York City.

More immersive concepts will be front and center at this year’s SPECS Show, August 22-24, at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Md. Here, attendees will hear from experiential retail leaders including Dick’s Sporting Goods, Camp and Fleet Feet, among other brands. (Click here to register for the conference.)