Retail, but not as you know it

Retail, but not as you know it

Retail - Workplace December 2019

Retail, but not as you know it

In the States early next year, the National Retail Federation (NRF) will hold its annual conference and it promises to put a whole new perspective on retail as we know it.

NRF 2020 is billed as the world's largest retail conference and expo and will have 38,000 attendees, 16,000 retailers, 800 exhibitors and conference attendee representation from 99 countries.

NRF says it’ll amalgamate “the largest community of movers, shakers and industry makers who’ll come together to see beyond what is, to reveal what could be” in the retail world.

It says visionary talent will meet visionary tech and two key speakers are set to make waves with their innovative take on retail.

Winston Fisher is CEO of Area15 – a proposed 18,580 square metre development close to the legendary Las Vegas strip.

It’s not a casino or a hotel, but rather a hybrid combining retail, entertainment, event space, and more that recognises and acts upon changing consumer habits.

Due for completion early 2020, the entertainment complex will boast art exhibitions, dining, nightlife and experiential retail and will be home to influencers, disruptors and agents of change.

Fisher says it’ll be a “geek-chic playground” with indoor and outdoor flexible event space, huge amounts of free parking and retail space over a couple of levels.

With a local catchment of 2.1 million residents and Las Vegas tourist numbers off-the-charts and climbing, perhaps Area15 has the luxury of scale that we simply don’t have here in New Zealand.

However, the concept of engaging and inspiring people with a curated collection of experimental entertainment, immersive retail and other businesses looking for something outside of the traditional, run-of-the-mill retail environment could have legs in this country, too.

Fisher wants to redefine the idea of a static mall and create an immersive marketplace.

Another key speaker at NRF 2020 will be Tal Nathanel who’s on an unashamed mission to create the most interesting store in the world.

After living in New York for some years, the entrepreneur has identified a gaping chasm between what he imagined retail should do and the often impersonal, transactional reality of the modern department store which the USA is known for.

The multi-brand retail environment says Nathanel places too much emphasis on its own brand, meaning the customer’s experience is a side effect or postscript.

So he’s imagined and has brought to life, Showfields, a new retail model entirely focused on the consumer experience located in Bond Street, Lower Manhattan in New York City.

This is a space where consumers can engage with the emerging brands they find online, making an immersive customer experience the hub of its business model.

Showfields works with digital brands that want to expand their footprint and customer perception with physical stores that break the mould.

Unique physical experiences are created using elements of art, theatre and interactive activations to stick in the hearts and minds of customers.

The model blends physical and digital retail to show that traditional retail is not dead – rather it’s evolving – and telling a story.

The space is divided up into “rooms” each showcasing a different brand, and each uniquely reflecting that brand and culture.

Design-wise, there’s the feeling that visitors are inside a gallery or museum rather than a retail store creating a destination precinct for locals and visitors.

Retail is changing before American eyes and New Zealand can watch and learn…

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