It is often super tough sitting in a country with the population the size of the city of Sydney (NZ) or one that is 1/3 the size of the UK or roughly 8% of the USA, BUT with practically the same level of expectation of innovation, depth and breadth of range and pricing. Even tougher if you are a retailer trying to meet these demands!
The retail landscape has changed so significantly, especially accelerated by the global pandemic. Many customers changed the way they discover retailers, how they shop and how they pay, and retailers found new ways to connect with customers.
What we’re seeing now is that many of these changes have staying power and retailers that understand these shifts in customer behaviour and lean their business into them know [in the long run] they will reap the benefits, including increased sales, customer engagement and loyalty.
The majority of customers expect to be met where “they are” and have exceptional, seamless experiences whether that is shopping in-store, online, or anywhere in between. Their journey from browsing to buying is often nonlinear, meaning they may go back and forth on multiple channels while browsing and researching before they settle on buying.
Our role at RX is to seek out the good, the amazing and the incredible and then take the nuggets of insight and gold and apply this appropriately to right size the thinking and innovation for businesses in our part of the world. And as much as we love a good sneaker cleaning business in Brooklyn, as does the next sneaker owner in NZ, the reality of that being a commercially scalable and sustainably profitable business is quite unlikely.
Petco Flagship, Union Square, NYC
Petco Health and Wellness Company opened its flagship Petco Union Square in the heart of New York City in early June 2023. Designed to be a unique one-stop health and wellness destination, it connects to the trend towards humanisation and premiumisation in animals by delivering services that are on par with human services and provides a hub where pets and pet parents can gather and connect with the community.
Every element of the store needed to work together to cultivate a seamless experience that nurtures the incredible bond between pets and pet parents.
The objective was to create a top destination for pet parents worldwide, where they can experience the best in pet health and wellness.
The store would need to represent the diverse community of pet lovers from New York and across the U.S., including members of the local LGBTQIA+, BIPOC, women, and maker and builder communities.
“17th & Bark”: inspired by the Union Square farmers market and named in honour of the flagship’s cross-streets, Petco Union Square offers a curated collection of premium goods for pets that is unique to the location, including California-based t-shirt brand Hiro Clark’s first pet collection, pet and pet parent apparel from Andrea Cáceres, pet portraits from Ben Lenovitz and pet accessories from Lambwolf Collective.
Vetco Total Care: a full-service veterinary hospital that delivers quality care for every stage of a pet’s life, with services ranging from wellness exams, vaccinations, and microchipping to dental care, dermatology, surgeries, and more.
“Ruff’s Barker Shop”: a sleek and stylish salon that channels classic barbershop vibes, offering premium grooming services and a dog self-wash station.
Reddy Shop: a full-scale shop-in-shop space where pets and pet parents can try on the latest styles from Petco’s owned brand Reddy. It offers a lounge area, fitting station and a customisation zone where shoppers can personalise items purchased at Petco Union Square.
Dog Training and Indoor Park: an indoor dog training park where pets and pet parents can work with Petco’s certified trainers on positive reinforcement-based training methods that are designed to support their social, mental, and physical health.
Curated assortment of merchandise: a variety of nutrition and supplies to support pets’ whole health, including designated companion animal and nutrition areas, a “Healthy Habits Hub” and dedicated dog and cat sections.
JustFoodForDogs Kitchen: a state-of-the-art gourmet kitchen where trained chefs prepare small-batch, human-grade pet meals that are formulated by veterinarians and made with fresh, whole food ingredients.
Petco Love Adoptions: year-round cat adoptions and adoption events with local animal welfare partners, complete with an on-site photobooth that allows pet parents to capture the moment they welcome a new pet into their family.
Convenient ways to shop such as online, pick-up in-store and self-serve lockers.
Petco Union Square combines the best of Petco’s physical and digital offerings to deliver a complete pet care experience that embodies Petco’s fully integrated, omnichannel pet health and wellness ecosystem.
Golden Goose, Fashion-Forward Store, Milan
Location: Via Cusani, 2 Milano MI, Italy
Note: there is a more recent store opened in SoHo NYC
Golden Goose opened the doors on its first co-action initiative, the Forward Store, at its long-established store in Milan’s Via Cusani. The aim is to extend the life cycle of its products by giving them a new lease of life based on four cornerstone principles: repair, remake, resell and recycle.
Golden Goose is a brand that is committed to promoting its tradition of craftsmanship and supporting artisans such as tailors and local artists.
Raising awareness and sharing knowledge have always been considered key to safeguarding this legacy for future generations.
Golden Goose seeks to engage its customers in this mission, with the new store concept paving the way for a new approach to clothes and shoe repairs.
The shoe repair section is fitted out to resemble an old cobbler’s, with all the machinery used by the trade and the tools needed to mend and personalise shoes.
A second section hosts a tailoring atelier, featuring sewing and embroidery machines for provide a vintage feel with a contemporary twist.
Customers will be able to bring products by any brand to the store, and take advantage of the services it offers, from washing to sanitising, repairing and replacing, restoration and conservation. Through the Remake service, customers can design their own unique products by choosing from a wide range of decorations and finishings that can be applied to new or used items, as well as from a range of treatments, such as distressed effects, embroidery, appliqué lettering and handmade drawings, creating one-of-a-kind clothes. The Golden Goose Forward Store offers a bespoke tailoring service and customisation options for sneakers. The store also acts as a venue for reselling selected Golden Goose items. Finally, two baskets within the store are to be used for clothes recycling in collaboration with ReCircled, a US initiative promoting circular fashion.
Golden Goose has created an innovative retail initiative that applies its artisanal ethos in offering ways to prolong the life cycle of its products. The store’s design, with its raw concrete floors and rough iron posts, reflects this approach: it features items of reclaimed furniture set on well-worn rugs, a wooden display that showcases the Golden Goose Archive Collection and an artwork installation from Sidival Fila, a Franciscan monk of Brazilian origin who works with recycled materials and used fabrics. The Forward Store concept was initially debuted in Milan but has since been deployed in New York and Dubai stores.
Estee Lauder “Vocal Make-up Artist”, UK
Cosmetics and skincare giant, Estée Lauder, launched a new mobile app in January 2023, enabling people with impaired vision to achieve their desired makeup looks with guidance from its smart voice assistant.
Visually impaired consumers had expressed the need for technology that would support them in applying their makeup with confidence.
ELC are committed to using innovative technology solutions to make their beauty products truly inclusive to everyone.
The Voice-Enabled Makeup Assistant (VMA) app combines machine vision and voice AI to guide users through the process so they can get the look they want, even with limited or no eyesight.
Smart mirror technology generates voice instructions and tips, allowing users to have confidence that their lipstick, eyeshadow or foundation is evenly applied.
It uses AI to identify makeup on a user’s face and assess the uniformity and the boundaries of its application and coverage, identifying and audibly describing how and where touch ups may be needed.
Estée Lauder Companies UK & Ireland are the first to adopt and promote this technology, which will be continuously optimised, improved and expanded to meet users’ needs. ELC views the Voice-Enabled Makeup Assistant as “an important step in their journey towards makeup accessibility for all by removing barriers to engaging with beauty products and services.”
Sweetgreen Infinite Kitchen
Location: 223 S Main St, Naperville, IL 60540, United States
Continuing with its mission to revolutionise fast food by offering a healthier, whole-food alternative, Sweetgreen launched a fully automated makeline, the Infinite Kitchen, in its Naperville, store. The “frictionless experience” uses exact portions and delivers an incredibly accurate product that could also cut labour costs in half.
The innovative technology is intended to automate in a way that adds efficiency to operations and enhance the customer’s Sweetgreen experience without removing its human aspect.
Sweetgreen has rethought the entire customer process flow, integrating digital touchpoints such as self-service kiosks, brand-storytelling digital screens.
Customers can choose whether they order via the kiosks, through the Sweetgreen mobile app, or directly from the restaurant’s host.
The “Infinite Kitchen” is an adaptation of existing technology acquired in 2021, which adds each customers’ selections to bowls moving along a conveyor belt.
The restaurant also features a new Tasting Counter, and a revamped merchandise line with designs inspired by the new store joining the Naperville.
The automated Infinite Kitchen system is faster, uses more exact portions and is more accurate.
Location: 325 Wirraway Rd, Essendon Fields VIC 3041, Australia
Customers have consistent ranked experience above product and price in the used car sales market. The vision at blinkr is to redefine the used car buying and selling experience to be the most stress-free, seamless, and enjoyable customer experience possible, that truly exceeds the customer’s expectations.
Customers can buy and apply for finance online, then have the car delivered, or click and collect from their 2,630 sqm showroom within Essendon Fields.
Each car is meticulously reconditioned, allowing blinkr to offer a 12-month mechanical protection plan, 12-month roadside assist and 7 days money-back guarantee, included in the price of every car.
blinkr currently operates with 27 employees. They have purposely sourced a mix of well-experienced industry leaders as well as staff who are new to the industry but bring their own customer experience and expertise.
Walk in the door and be greeted by soaring ceilings, copious quantities of greenery, quality tech and a huge range of vehicles. Staff will be next to you in an instant offering fresh coffee or a cool drink to accompany your visit.
Blinkr is one of the first to purposefully focus on the pain-points in the used car buying process. By employing staff that are focused on the needs of the customer and their experience, the conversion and word-of-mouth to date, has been epic.
Do you need to embark on your on retail store journey this year? Reach out and let's chat. Juanita@rxgroup.co.nz