Outdoor apparel retailers are reinventing their brick-and-mortar spaces to connect with customers by making stores into destinations that offer experiences. The North Face, for instance, is opening a new experiential retail store in the New York City's SoHo neighborhood as it plans to make existing stores into “basecamps for exploration.”
The North Face Vice President of Direct to Consumer Mark Parker said in the announcement, “Our stores will continue to offer a convenient and seamless shopping experience, but it is no longer the sole mission of the store.” Parker continued, “We're now focused on creating an environment that highlights our heritage and allows consumers to deeply connect with the brand as they prepare for their own exploration, wherever it may be.”
In the updated retail space, the company said, customers will “immediately feel The North Face heritage and experience the brand's values.” Innovations include a Half Dome scent, which the company describes as “signature” and will transport shoppers to the great outdoors. At the same time, “guides” will help offer exploration and gear recommendations designed for local adventure. There will also be a “museum-like archive” of athlete expeditions as well as “significant icon products.”
The 8,000 square-foot-store is the first of multiple planned updates to locations for the brand, including Cherry Hill, New Jersey and Seattle, the company said. It is also “committed to refreshing the majority of its fleet of stores by the end of 2024” per the announcement. The company also noted that the new SoHo store and future locations will have FSC-certified reclaimed wood, granite, steel and low VOC paints. And, as for its new SoHo location, the company plans to mark its opening with an event that will showcase limited edition duffel bags created in conjunction with New York City artists.
Beyond The North Face, other outdoor apparel retailers are innovating with their brick-and-mortar stores. News surfaced last year that Canada Goose Holdings Inc. was introducing frigid rooms to help customers try out its $1,000 parkas. The spaces, which are inside some of its brick-and-mortar locations, let customers test out the jackets in frigid sub-zero temperatures. Staff assist customers in picking out coats and bringing them into the space.
With the help of in-store innovations and advice from staff, active outdoor apparel brands such as Canada Goose and North Face are turning stores into destinations instead of merely a place to stock up on gear before heading into the great outdoors.
In Other Brick-and-Mortar News
Walgreens is looking to shutter 200 stores in the United States after its parent company announced plans earlier this year to close 200 locations in the United Kingdom. The pharmacy chain aims to save $1.5 billion by fiscal 2022 in annual expenses. The store closures are said to make up under 3 percent of the company’s 10,000 United States locations.
Walgreens said in a statement, according to CNBC, “As previously announced, we are undertaking a transformational cost management program to accelerate the ongoing transformation of our business, enable investments in key areas and to become a more efficient enterprise.” A spokesperson for the pharmacy chain said it doesn’t intend to release a complete listing of store closures.
In other news, Barneys New York has put itself up for sale and filed for bankruptcy protection as it struggles to rival online brands. While the company has a storied history and has enjoyed a position of prestige, it hasn’t been immune from the same market conditions that sent Kmart and Sears into bankruptcy. It’s also contending with a large rent hike at its headquarters which sent it frantically searching for a buyer.
On another note, Shake Shack has entered into an integrated partnership with Grubhub to make its food more accessible to consumers through an increasing number of channels. The marketplace, as well as its Seamless brand, will be Shake Shack’s national delivery partner, with direct-to-POS integration for order submission as well as menu syncing. The burger chain will have to access tools to look into performance in addition to ordering trends.
Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti said in an announcement, “Shake Shack is experiencing incredible growth. Now more than ever, we’re doubling down on our commitment to be an accessible, omnichannel business.” And, with the “Just in Time” technology of Grubhub, pickups will be timed to the moment an order is ready to help make for quicker delivery, fresher food, and better guest experience.
To keep tabs on the latest retail trends, check next week’s Retail Pulse.