Retail Pulse: The RealReal Takes Omni Approach To New Store; Amazon Go Opens In NYC

fashion retail

Online brands are exploring the world of physical retail with brick-and-mortar stores, and this week, fashion eTailers continued to expand their brick-and-mortar footprints in two somewhat different and distant cities — San Francisco and New York. But eCommerce retailers included omnichannel features for their shoppers in both cities.

In the Big Apple, luxury online consignment retailer The RealReal opened a brick-and-mortar store on the city’s famed Madison Avenue. The company is no stranger to the city, as it already has a flagship in the SoHo neighborhood. Its new store offers a mix of women's ready-to-wear items, along with fine watches and jewelry in addition to home and art pieces. The location also sports a luxury consignment office, which the company describes as “expansive.”

“We're growing our presence in New York to support the strong demand we've seen for both shopping and consigning since opening our SoHo store a year and a half ago,” The RealReal CEO Julie Wainwright said in an announcement for the store. “This new format store bridges the gap between our Luxury Consignment Offices and our Flagships stores, bringing together an expanded assortment of expert services and a curated selection of luxury goods.”

In an omnichannel twist, stylists curate a selection of pieces from both the company’s local and online inventory for shoppers to try on in its retail space. At the store, shoppers can also receive “complimentary valuations” from the company’s horologists, authenticators and gemologists on products such as watches, handbags and jewelry. (The retailer also points out that it offers the service on sneakers — “for the first time in one of its New York stores,” per the announcement.) Beyond the valuations, the store offers “product viewings” for high-value sections such as vintage Rolex and Hermes Birkin bags.

Thousands of miles away in San Francisco, fashion subscription service Rent the Runway opened an 8,300 square-foot store in the Union Square neighborhood of the city. The location has 3,000 pieces of merchandise along with stylists, a beauty bar and approximately 20 dressing rooms, among other features. The new store allows customers to return rented items within seconds through technology, as well as check out with their RTR Pass on their smartphone and pick up orders without the need to wait online.

In addition, the location features desk space for co-working and space for evening programming as well as networking events. Rent the Runway Chief Operating Officer Maureen Sullivan said, according to reports, “Think of it like your gym or your Starbucks; it’s part of what you do on a daily basis.” Beyond San Francisco, the retailer also has physical stores in New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Woodland Hills, Calif.

From Rent the Runway to The RealReal, online fashion retailers took to brick-and-mortar this week as they brought their concepts to life in physical retail with the help of stylists and omichannel commerce.

In Other Brick-And-Mortar News

Amazon opened its Amazon Go store in New York City, bringing its cashierless store concept to the Big Apple. The shop is located at the Brookfield Place complex on the second floor in the city’s downtown. And, while the New York location will also accept cash, it won’t feature cash registers. Shoppers, however, can get assistance from a worker who has a mobile device help them with payment and checkout.

Brookfield Place is near office space in Manhattan and adjacent to the World Trade Center. It reportedly brings in the lunch crowd with a high-end food hall that comes with a “French-inspired” grocery store. The space also features a myriad of online retailers like b&ta, Rhone, and Untuckit along with a gym from Equinox.

On another note, Walmart is opening additional veterinary clinics. The retailer plans to bring the number of them to 100 from the current 21 in operation. It will kick off the expansion with new clinics in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. At the clinics, pets can get care for minor illnesses along with routine exams and vaccines. In addition, the retailer will roll out a eCommerce pet pharmacy with prescriptions for dogs, cats, horses and livestock.

And IKEA opened its first store in central Paris, in the city’s Madeleine district, as the furniture retailer moves to create a new range of stores to meet the changing habits of shoppers. The products that aren’t able to be taken from the location can be ordered through eCommerce and delivered to 350 pickup points or to houses.

Ingka Group Chief Executive Jesper Brodin said, according to reports, “La Madeleine is an innovation test laboratory for us. We want to serve the people who know and love IKEA but think IKEA is too far away.” The store, which has two levels, will employ 140 people and come with a restaurant along with a salad bar. It is also said to host cooking classes as well as workshops on home renovation or furniture repair.

To keep tabs on the latest retail trends, check next week’s Retail Pulse.



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