With eCommerce brands opening pop-up shops in big cities, entrepreneurs are now dedicating entire brick-and-mortar stores to these businesses. SHOWFIELDS, which aims to be a place for brand engagement for eCommerce companies, recently arrived in New York City. The brainchild of Tal Zvi Nathanel and Amir Zwickel, the store features direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands in many different verticals, ranging from wellness to fashion.
“We call ourselves ‘the most interesting store in the world,’” Nathanel told PYMNTS in an interview, adding that it’s not because that the store itself is interesting. “If anything, we are a stage; we are a platform.” The goal of the company, he said, is simply “to make retail accessible for brands.” The store, whose first floor is currently open in its NoHo neighborhood space, is designed to encourage discovery.
While a shopper who walks into a department has an open sightline and can usually see everything, Nathanel’s store has a different setup: The space is designed almost as a maze, and customers embark on a journey. “It’s always about what’s happening around the corner,” Nathanel said. The customer is invited to explore the spaces in a gallery-like environment, and has the opportunity to learn about each brand and its products.
Nathanel said the company has worked with brands to create immersive moments. Customers can see and try a product while learning about the brand from a host. If a customer decides to purchase a product, they can either use self-checkout technology from a tablet or touch screen or check out with a brand host who carries a point-of-sale (POS) system.
According to an announcement in December, SHOWFIELDS hosts experiences from companies such as blanket brand GRAVITY, home goods brand Boll & Branch and toothbrush brand quip. With Quip, “you can actually try a refreshed oral care routine firsthand (or … first-mouth),” according to the announcement. Moreover, shoppers can learn to make floral arrangements via stem-by-stem bouquet-making kits from It’s By U. Overall, Nathanel said the company looks to curate brands that are consumer-centric, design-oriented and vision-driven.
It can be challenging for eCommerce brands to enter the world of brick-and-mortar. They can sign a long-term lease for a traditional retail space or open a pop-up shop, which still requires resources. However, with SHOWFIELDS, Nathanel said his thesis was, “If we can make the process of opening a store as easy as opening a website, we can solve that problem for them.” To create that experience, the company includes construction and design as part of the rent. And brands have some flexibility, as the minimum commitment is four months for the space.
SHOWFIELDS is not the only brick-and-mortar space in New York City where consumers have the chance to interact with eCommerce brands firsthand.
Hudson Yards is said to have The Floor of Discovery dedicated to eCommerce brands. The property is under development in Manhattan by the Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group. Related Companies Retail Specialist Esty Ottensoser told The Wall Street Journal of the idea in January, “We want to showcase their brand in a way they can’t do behind a screen.”
Future tenants are said to include The Drug Store, which will reportedly be opened by Dirty Lemon’s parent company, and will offer lemonade drinks in exchange for cashless payments. The space is also said to house menswear brand Rhone, sock maker Stance and an M. Gemi store that will tap into Resy for reservations. There will also reportedly be a place “with a coffee station from Japanese housewares and clothing retailer Muji,” per the WSJ report.
Commercial real estate firm JLL forecasts that online retailers will open a minimum of 850 stores from this year until 2023. About four in 10 of them — 41.3 percent — are predicted to have their first permanent locations in the Big Apple. In recent times, online consumer packaged goods (CPG) brand Brandless has opened a pop-up shop in New York City, as has online meal delivery service Daily Harvest.
Amid this trend, brick-and-mortar spaces such as SHOWFIELDS and The Floor Of Discovery are emerging to bring online brands into the world of brick-and-mortar, and create in-person experiences for their shoppers, in the Big Apple.