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Brand Activation


I’ve seen the future of retail. And it’s not all online, not by a long shot.

First, let’s deal with the elephant in the room. Yes, traditional brick-and-mortar retailers are confronted with challenges on multiple fronts. Adapting stores to accommodate today’s digitally savvy and demanding customers is no easy feat.

But it’s a task that some retailers have taken head on by focusing on the in-store customer experience. From digital enhancements to unique customization options, these are stores that engage and immerse shoppers in a way that online cannot match. Here’s a few examples that caught my attention:

Adidas, New York City: Sleek and ultra-modern looking, this 45,000-sq.-ft. flagship is the brand’s largest and most immersive store yet. Inspired by high school stadiums, high-school reminiscent bleacher stands for live game viewing on big screens, locker room-styled dressing rooms and track and turf sections for trying out products. Among the most popular features: kiosk stations to design custom sneakers.

Anthropologie & Co., Walnut Creek, Calif.: Anthropologie’s bohemian-inspired visual artistry is on full display in the brand’s new format, Anthropologie & Co. The approximate 30,000-sq.-ft. store offers a complete lifestyle experience, from 12 fully decorated room vignettes to a bridal shop to a shoe salon. There’s also an in-store design center staffed by a home stylist.

Neiman Marcus, Fort Worth: The 95,000-sq.-ft. space is Neiman Marcus’ most digitally advanced, with high-tech “smart” mirrors used throughout apparel, beauty and even the sunglass department. Interactive digital directories are found at store entrances.

Nike, New York City: Nike’s new five-level, multi-sport outpost in SoHo is something to see — and experience. The 55,000-sq.-ft. store is an immersive playground where shoppers can do everything from taking a virtual run in Central Park to shooting basketballs amid the sights of the city’s iconic basketball courts. There’s a dedicated service space for customers to consult Nike experts, a personalization studio, a women’s boutique with personal styling services and enhanced fitting rooms with adjustable lighting.

Rent the Runway, New York City: Smart and stylish looking, the space merges the apparel rental company’s digital assets (including its app and website) with physical elements. The end result is a very personalized customer experience, one based on each shopper’s unique needs and past interactions with the brand.

Yeti, Austin: A cool store from a cooler (literally) and drinkware company, Yeti’s first physical outing celebrates the 12-year-old brand. The 8,000-sq.-ft. space includes an indoor-outdoor bar, a stage for live events and a customization counter. It also features prized artifacts and possessions from the company’s colorful founders.

Displays and exhibits bring the brand to life, down to a video that shows a Yeti cooler being dropped from on high, exploded and set on fire — and still surviving. The brand’s drinkware is displayed in a giant replica of one its mugs that has been cut in half so customers can see how it’s made.

Yeti is colorful, eccentric, a little bit wacky and completely unique. It’s also fun to shop. That makes it pretty wonderful in my book.

Marianne Wilson

[email protected]

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