A Personal Retail Experience in the Digital Era

I was recently in Denmark and carved out some time to visit a new concept store of JYSK Denmark. JYSK has been a global retail leader since their founding in 1979 and was one of the first to grasp the idea of creating an experience for the customer within the retail environment. This outlook has served them well as the digital age has developed and the need to enjoy an experience instead of simply viewing a product has become more important. Retailers across the globe understand the necessity of drawing the customer into the store to gain a greater understanding of the product and to be rewarded with a unique experience. A 21st-century store should be a place of discovery.

The shop in Denmark reminded me of the “STORY” experimental retail concept store in New York City. I’ve wanted to write about it for a few months but haven’t had the chance. Until now.

STORY – located in Manhattan – is well known for its particular approach to retail. It’s a space that is constantly changing: every six to eight weeks the shop morphs into a completely different theme-based store. It’s brilliant, really. Call it a rotating shop/gallery. The products in the store are carefully curated and provided by sponsors that pay for the access and exposure that the incredibly popular Chelsea location provides. STORY doesn’t stick to the old method of buying at wholesale and then selling at retail. The sponsors, such as Intel, American Express, GE, Target, Lexus, Coty, and Cigna, partner with the store to create an environment that focuses on a certain trend or theme. As such, STORY serves as the matchmaker between the brand and the consumer. As they put it, STORY has the “Point of view of a Magazine, Changes like a Gallery, (and) Sells things like a Store.”

I’ve been to STORY to see two of their installations. The first that I experienced was called, “FRESH.” It was the result of an impressive collaboration with Jet.com (owned by Wal-Mart) and focused on the online retailer’s innovative approach to delivering perishable groceries and fresh produce directly to the consumer’s door. In order to focus on the ease of the service, STORY presented other time-saving products in the installation that could be used with the Jet.com deliveries.

There was an intelligent oven, a sustainable sparkling water maker, a cooler with a built-in blender and Bluetooth speaker, and pizza oven that cooks in just two minutes! Taking the idea even further, there were socks made to resemble sushi, premium healing turmeric from GOLDE, and refillable plastic soap containers from Common Good. Coupled with a bevy of in-store appearances and demonstrations by a variety of food experts, STORY was able to inspire their customers in ways that normal retailers cannot.

The second STORY theme I experienced was “Work/Space” back in May. The space remained a store, but also offered private offices, a library, and shared spaces for people to work. It may sound odd, but it was fascinating and successful. The folks at STORY brought in Chicago architect David Dewane to build out his concept of the Eudaimonia Machine. What’s that, you ask? It’s a precise workspace layout based on Aristotle’s concept of Eudaimonia, which means the epitome of human capability. STORY set up this iteration of their shop in order to focus on how people can optimize their time and concentration in order to work to the height of their abilities. How do you keep the work place from becoming too social but not too isolating? Where is the balance that allows humans to work most efficiently and confidently? Companies involved included Samsung (Frame TVs and Samsung Flip – a smart whiteboard), Slack (workplace messaging), Blu Dot (residential & office furniture), and interactive digital displays by Perch.

How successful has STORY been? Shortly after I visited, Macy’s announced that it had acquired the unique retailer.

At AFK Strategies we believe that there are three main steps for both B2C and B2B when building a brand:

  1. Create a clear company vision that you can easily communicate within your organization. This will be the guideline for every member of your team
  2. Understand who your customers are. You need to dig in to the needs & wants of your customers.​
  3. Create a story to connect emotionally with your customers. Based on one study, more than 50% of an experience is based on an emotion. Emotions shape the attitudes that drive decisions.

AFK Strategies Inc. is a boutique strategic advisory and business development company that is committed to serving our partners as their associates in China, Turkey, and the United States. AFK consulting services help companies identify and solve their business challenges via an extensive global expertise. The company assists the growth of small and medium sized enterprises (SME’s) in the United States at the local level, while at the same time aiding the growth of U.S. companies in China and Turkey. The services encompass three key areas: business development, supply chain management and brand development. Contact AFK Strategies Inc. to learn more.

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