Retail Pulse: Glossier Goes Experiential In NYC; Holiday Retail Sales May Top $1 Trillion


It's not uncommon for brands to open permanent stores after experimenting with pop-ups, but Glossier is taking an innovative payments approach to its new flagship in New York City that launched on Thursday (November 8): the company is bringing its own point-of-sale system (POS) to the flagship.

A Glossier spokesperson told Forbes that the company decided to take that approach as it would help create a stronger brand connection with shoppers. With the system, online purchases can be tied to purchases with those in the store. As a result, shoppers can begin making an order while in the store and complete the process through eCommerce. In another twist, the company’s sales representatives, who are called offline editors, will be able to be able to use information from the system to help shoppers navigate company’s space and products as “educated and knowledgeable friend[s].”

Glossier Founder and Chief Executive Emily Weiss told the New York Times in an article about the store, “We’re not focused on selling you stuff … We don’t have people working on commission. When you’re in such a transactional time — a time of Amazon having engineers working on cross-selling and upselling and better and better algorithms to get you to buy stuff — it’s really important to create spaces and experiences that help you feel things.”

The new SoHo location is a bit of a homecoming for the brand. The intersection of Canal and Lafayette Streets was to the company’s first office as well as its showroom. And, like, other brands opening brick-and-mortar stores, the space allows shoppers to try out the company’s products. To that end, a space within the store with double slate sinks carries samples of skin care products. In addition, the space has a room with giant mirrors that is stocked with bottles of the company’s popular brow gel.

While 90 percent of the company’s revenue comes from online sales per the Times, Glossier’s ethos is that it is not led by either brick-and-mortar retail or eCommerce. Weiss sees the company as “emotional commerce,” meaning at art and discovery is still central to retail.  On the brick-and-mortar end, the space will provide places for shoppers to create content, connect with other visitors and talk to the company’s offline editors. The opening demonstrates that brands aren’t turning to stores just to sell their products, they are looking to build experiences that add to their online offerings.

In Other Brick-And-Mortar News:

U.S. holiday sales may top $1 trillion this year with strong income growth, with brick-and-mortar retailers forecasted to be a “bright spot,” according to an eMarketer forecast. Andrew Lipsman, an analyst with the firm, said in a statement, “While eCommerce will continue to see strong double-digit gains, brick-and-mortar retail should be a particular[ly] bright spot this holiday season … retailers are luring in shoppers with remodeled stores, streamlined checkout and options to buy online, pick up in-store.”

To that end, Lipsman noted that retailers are streamlining their checkout process and renovating their stores as they also roll out buy online, pick up in-store options. Amid these changes, in-store sales may see a year-on-year gain of 4.4 percent to top $878.38 billion. Even so, eMarketer noted that eCommerce is expected to make up 12.3 percent of sales. And online retail sales may hit $123.73 billion, which would be a 16.6 percent rise from last year.

In other news, grocery group Ahold Delhaize is set to launch automated warehouses to speed up completion of orders and slash delivery times. Reuters reported that the world’s eighth biggest food retailer is partnering with startup Takeoff, which will enable it to automate order collection at mini “robot supermarkets” attached to U.S. chains like Stop & Shop.

Takeoff develops small warehouses that save space by stacking groceries to the ceiling and use robot arms to put together shoppers’ orders. The warehouses can be used as small supermarkets that can supply several stores, and cost about $3 million to build — less than the cost of a typical store revamp, according to Takeoff.

And 7-Eleven said earlier this week that is debuting scan-and-go options at 14 of its Dallas-based stores, with the goal of bringing that technology to additional locations through 2019. The Scan & Pay feature exists within the convenience store operator’s eponymous mobile app. Using the technology, the consumer can scan their desired purchase, and activity is also connected to the company’s 7Rewards loyalty offering with automatic alerts to discounts and special offers.

Gurmeet Singh, chief information officer and chief product officer at the company, told PYMNTS in an interview this week that scan-and-go technology fit into the retailer’s overall business strategy by addressing a specific problem: Americans wait in line, especially those at checkout, for 37 million hours.

Singh said, “the challenge I gave to my team was, ‘how do we disrupt this? How can we enable our customers to skip the line, every time?’ We continue to think like a software company, digitally enabling our stores, to redefine convenience once again. … We developed the prototype of this technology in June, and then first tested the experience in the 7-Eleven Store Support Center store.”

For more on the latest retail trends, keep your finger on the PYMNTS’ Retail Pulse.



The How We Shop Report, a PYMNTS collaboration with PayPal, aims to understand how consumers of all ages and incomes are shifting to shopping and paying online in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research builds on a series of studies conducted since March, surveying more than 16,000 consumers on how their shopping habits and payments preferences are changing as the crisis continues. This report focuses on our latest survey of 2,163 respondents and examines how their increased appetite for online commerce and digital touchless methods, such as QR codes, contactless cards and digital wallets, is poised to shape the post-pandemic economy.