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New looks, new formats


With the physical store now widely acknowledged as a critical touchpoint in a customer’s omnichannel shopping journey, many retailers spent the summer opening new prototypes and formats.

Here are three that are still generating buzz:


Sephora’s new outpost on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue makes buying makeup and other beauty products an interactive experience.

The heart of the 10,000-sq.-ft. space is a long, sleek table, complete with vanities and iPad stations that serve as a central workstation where customers can take group classes on beauty topics. Each station is equipped with its own product, iPad, USB port and Wi-Fi, so shoppers can play, browse and share looks on the digital screen and online right from their seat.

Shoppers can also get one-on-one makeovers from makeup artists in the store’s 14-seat “Beauty Studio,” which features Sephora’s first digital take-home tool: an interactive face chart that serves as a record of the service the shopper received combined with product and application tips. It can be sent directly to the customer via email.

The location is the first Sephora to offer a “Fragrance IQ” station that allows customers to browse 18 scent families through an innovative, dry air delivery system. And it’s one of the first in the beauty giant’s fleet to feature a dedicated space where shoppers can indulge in the retailer’s mini-facial service.

Foot Locker

Foot Locker transformed its Herald Square Manhattan flagship with an extensive redesign that puts the spotlight on top brands.

In a break with tradition, the store is organized largely by brand rather than by product category. There are designated areas to highlight trends and, in a bid to get customers to think beyond shoes, plenty of sporty-looking mannequins outfitted in full gear.

With nearly 10,000 sq. ft. of selling space, Foot Locker has a high-energy vibe and jazzy look, enhanced by sleek materials and state-of-the-art, oversized digital signage. Signs feature images of products and well-known athletes along with social media feeds that reference the brand.

Athletic goods, particularly footwear, are heavily brand driven. With that in mind, the layout is designed to make it easy for customers to find what they’re looking for. Top athletic brands such as Under Armour and Timberland have their own designated spaces, with cross-category offerings.

In addition, there are four fully realized in-store shops, each featuring a unique look and feel. This includes House of Hoops (Foot Locker’s basketball shop), The Foundation only at Food Locker (Adidas) and Puma Lab.

The chain’s new women’s apparel and footwear retail format, Six:02, also has its own shop, a 3,000-sq.-ft. space complete with white brick walls, custom wood floors, contemporary fixtures and digital content boards. Tucked away inside Six:02 is a mini-shop, called The Collection, that features curated stories from brand partners.

The store also boasts an experiential area, called NYC33, that will host fashion shows, various events and product launches.


Sonos, known for its wireless (“smart”) speakers and home audio products, enters the brick-and-mortar arena with an interactive store that celebrates music.

The 4,200-sq.-ft. store in downtown Manhattan is designed to allow visitors to listen to music — and experience Sonos products — the way they would at home.

The brand offers a streamlined product lineup of eight items. The speakers are sleek and to the point, as is the store. It is designed and built for superior acoustics. The ceilings are made from wooden baffles to minimize sound bounce back.

Sonos takes a soft-sell approach. There is no traditional checkout or signage. Products are displayed gallery-style on an entry wall and dramatically back lit.

The centerpiece of the space is a row of six, house-shaped listening rooms (10-ft.-by-12-ft. each) on the first floor.

The listening rooms are designed to show how Sonos products can blend seamlessly into the interior of any home. Each one features its own design aesthetic, with a living room, kitchen and study vignette, complete with the recommended Sonos speakers.

The rooms are equipped with tablets on which customers, via the Sonos app, can call up songs from various streaming services and control the sound of the various speakers. The app also has a “products” tab where customers can learn more about the products and put in a request to a sales associate to bring in a product.

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