Skip to main content

The New York Stores Reinventing Retail

The annual NRF conference in New York City — Retail’s “Big Show” — was a chance to connect with retailers, startups and industry visionaries to reflect on the year just gone. And with the holiday shopping season in the rearview mirror, it’s time we shift focus to the opportunities ahead.

While much of modern retail is about managing constant change, one thing that remains high on the agenda for retail is the crucial role stores play in driving engagement and sales. In a city where everything is famously bigger and better, retailers are reinventing how they create engaging customer experiences to meet what shoppers are looking for – and expect – from retail stores. 

And in New York, there are many great examples delivering just that. For instance, the hype and exclusivity built up around Queens born brand Aimé Leon Dore, can be felt before you even walk into the store. With a waitlist just to enter, customers are prepared to wait between 15 minutes on weekdays or up to two hours on the weekend. 

Tucked behind the velvet green curtain lies, the world of ALD, with moody lighting, wood panelling, Persian rugs, and art that pays a homage to New York, 90s hip-hop and sports. The brand has been able to grow its community by capturing the hearts of streetwear aficionados and onlookers through collaborations with brand collaborations with the likes of New Balance and Porsche. What’s more, the newly renovated, and exclusive space with a private sound room — only accessible to close friends and family — is home to “Sound”, a series of monthly DJ Sets.

Building connections with local communities

Another example of a company creating a store that emphasizes experiential elements and a focus on community, is Rivian. The electric vehicle manufacturer’s family-friendly, "Rivian Spaces," offers various fun areas for exploration, from a wall dedicated to the ins and outs of charging, to a map of where Rivian owners have traveled in their vehicles, and an area where customers can see customization options for their vehicles.

Destination shopping

Armed with the right data analytics, retailers can better tailor their layouts, in-store services, pricing and product assortments to customers. Key to this is thinking creatively and innovatively about what the future retail store can be, seeing it as not just a place to purchase products but a multipurpose destination that offers a range of different experiences.

The new Petco flagship is located in the landmark Tammany Hall building at 44 Union Square.
Petco's New York City flagship opened its doors last summer.

The Petco flagship is a great example of a retailer reinventing the pet store concept. By bringing together an amalgamation of Petco's partnerships and owned brands to create a hub that addresses the holistic needs for a pet — and their owners. 

Shoppers can visit the JustFoodForDogs Kitchen which offers the fresh human grade dog food set in a beautiful state of the art kitchen, Vetco a full-service vet hospital, Ruff’s Barker Shop — modeled after a classic barbershop for dogs to receive premium grooming services, 17th and Bark — curated collection of premium products and Reddy Shop dedicated to products from Petco’s owned brand which includes lounge area, fitting station, and customization for products. The store also offers dog training and an indoor park.

Apparel seller Reformation has a new high-tech flagship that it opened in Soho in Manhattan in summer 2023. There is only one of each item on display, and screens around the store let shoppers pick which merchandise they're interested in. Clothing is brought into their fitting room in their size, and customers can use a touch screen to request a different size or the
 tem in a different color.

There’s a broader opportunity here too. By getting their data together properly, retailers can link product displays and recommendations to inventory that in-stock and ready to be added to the shopping cart, as well as the opportunity for loyalty programs, upselling opportunities and more.

A place for driving engagement

Stores can also be a source of critical insights into local preferences, behaviors and purchase patterns. Just look at how Swiss athletic brand On is equipping its customers and employees with the data needed to support selecting the perfect running shoe using its hidden gait-cycle analysis technology that compares key run attributes with a database of more than 52,000 runs. There is also custom-built invisible foot scanner to find customer’s perfect size.

On also operates as a community hub by hosting classes, events, and run clubs. These insights can then inform everything from forecasting and replenishing to marketing campaigns, to store design.

Driving sustainability forward

As more consumers embrace sustainable concepts in their day-to-day shopping, we are starting to see major retailers sell refurbished or previously used products. Savvy retailers are driving this trend forward by making more refurbished products available in stores while educating shoppers through improved communication and signage.

Recently debuted in stores across the country, Coachtopia was founded to advance Coach's circular fashion system. The innovation lab features a new line of products made from previously used materials and materials that might otherwise go to a landfill. Not only is this a new way to shop, but it enables Coach to reduce its carbon footprint and work towards a zero-waste future. The Soho pop-up Aug 2023 featured architectural elements that highlighted the brand's "Made Circular" principles, with fixtures and seating being made from Coach leather scraps and signage from upcycled materials.

Stores as the route to retail growth

Physical retail is here to stay, but the successful stores of the future are upgrading the in-store experience to retain a crucial role in building relationships, understanding customer behaviors, and legitimizing the brand. Remembering that universal truth will be a critical factor as retailers reinvent their businesses for future growth.

More Blog Posts in This Series

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds