Retail Evolution: Continuing to Think Outside of the Box
In a prior blog, we discussed partnerships between retailers and hotel chains as a strategy for providing customers with an interactive experience and staying competitive in the market. This trend has continued and is further evolving. Retailers are bringing the store to the consumer and inventing new and creative ways to introduce customers to their brands and to increase sales.
Rent the Runway has recently announced a partnership with W Hotels. At four W hotels in Aspen, South Beach, Washington DC and Hollywood, guests can choose clothes in advance through Rent the Runway and find them waiting in their hotel room upon arrival. In addition to offering a new wardrobe selection for customers specifically geared to the climate of the destination, it removes the hassle of advance packing and laundry when the trip is over! Similarly, Westin hotels offer a service called “Gear Lending” where guests can rent workout clothes and sneakers from New Balance. In addition, to the convenience of having items available to you without having to bring everything from home, customers have the opportunity to try out new brands and styles which they hope will encourage further spending and brand loyalty.
Drop off boxes for Rent the Runway returns can be found in retailers such as West Elm and Nordstrom. This provides another opportunity to welcome consumers into a retail store in hopes of enhancing in-store sales. In addition, Nordstrom has rolled out five “Nordstrom Local” concepts in New York and Los Angeles. These stores do not carry inventory, instead, they are service centers providing a variety of services to customers, including pick up and drop off, tailoring and even gift wrapping. The smaller footprint of the Nordstrom Local store provides accessibility to stores for customers who would typically need to travel further to a large retail store generally located in suburban malls.
While they do not currently have any store locations, the online retailer, Stitch Fix, has expanded its offerings as well. After providing details about your style and clothing wishes, a personal stylist selects five pieces of clothing or accessories and they are delivered directly to the consumer. Over the past couple of years, the product assortment has grown to include lines for men, children and plus size women. Subscription holders can further expand their wardrobe by making online purchases of additional items that complement the items previously chosen by the stylist. This service opens doors to brands and styles that individuals may not have otherwise had access to.
As anchor and big box retailers continue to be downsized and competition from online shopping increases, this trend of inventing new methods to introduce the customer to brands will certainly continue. With an eye on convenience and variety, we will continue to see creative approaches to retail to foster brand loyalty and capture market share. The pace of change has been swift and it will be exciting to see what comes next.