In September, New Jersey’s massive American Dream mall opened a new luxury wing dubbed Avenue, featuring brands such as Hermes and Dolce & Gabbana, alongside around 20 other stores and a massive boutique. Saks Fifth Avenue.
Some might wonder why anyone would want to open up a huge retail space right now, given the e-commerce boom that exploded during the pandemic. But mainstream retailers are bringing new experiences to department stores to keep foot traffic going: fittings, style consultations, new brand pop-ups and more to reinvent the luxury retail experience.
From VIP suites to private boutiques and concierge services, that little extra is becoming the new standard in luxury retail today. This proves that department stores can indeed compete with e-commerce.
“With e-commerce accelerating and becoming more convenient, consumers need a goal for visiting stores,” says Kayla Marci, market analyst for retail intelligence firm EDITED. “Stores can create personalized physical experiences, which is essential for selling luxury goods and cannot be replicated online. “
“Experiential retail has been a big trend in getting consumers to come back to the store after Covid, creating an element of fun,” she explains. “Connecting physical retail to digital lifestyles is an essential strategy. “
Unique in-person experiences
Nordstrom’s flagship product in New York City recently hosted a magazine launch and panel discussion chaired by Interview Editors magazine, as a select crowd of fashionistas sat down, sipping champagne. The department store has a beauty concierge, which includes a spa, and free personal styling sessions, which can be pre-booked online.
The Galeries Lafayette in Paris on Boulevard Haussmann have extended their fourth floor to only shoes, including 200 brands, making it the largest selection of shoes in Europe in a department store, designed by Belgian architect Bernard Dubois. They also have a private commercial suite – a small apartment – on the top floor of their store which has a private walk-in closet and a team of personal stylists.
The Harrods department store in London offers a newly refurbished hair and beauty salon, which opened on July 26 at their Knightsbridge store in London, offering haircuts, stylist consultations, and hair extensions. hair, nail art, eyebrow care and a Japanese-inspired scalp. facial spa. That’s what Annalize Fard, director of beauty at Harrods, calls “world-class beauty experiences”.
Harrods is also home to an exhibition of sculptures by Lorenzo Quinn, which is part of a pop-up hosted by Halcyon Gallery at the department store. As Quinn explains, “Whenever I’m at Harrods, the first thing I do is visit the Halcyon Gallery to see my work and talk to passers-by. I love this fortuitous moment when people realize that I am the artist.
Meanwhile, in Selfridges, also in London, there is an ‘experienced concierge’ with lounge and wine tastings. They offer “a gentleman’s session,” which includes a barber shave, drinks and meal pairing, ladies’ glamor sessions and even skateboarding lessons at the Selfridges Skate Bowl.
Style is also a priority at Neiman Marcus in New York. Its fall campaign is all about storytelling and ‘showing off’ and the company just hired a new Lifestyle Director to operate new brands, which aims to bring more lesser-known brands to the fore.
“Everything for everyone”
Retail expert says department stores shouldn’t try to be ‘everything for everyone’, but target their audience and offer exclusive outings with big brands.
“Department stores have a huge advantage in that they sell multiple brands and products. a luxury retail consulting firm in New York “The department store goes above and beyond the expectation of customers to step into … a center of customer relationship building.”
Saks Fifth Avenue recently launched a social club called SaksWorks. It has a stylish workspace, fitness studios, and event and catering spaces for members who pay a monthly fee of US $ 299 (or day passes of US $ 49), using its onsite spaces for more than retail. It opens this month at two locations in Manhattan: Brookfield Place and Saks Fifth Avenue on Fifth Avenue.
Marci explains that luxury brands will profit from the travel madness that could hit the coming year. “As travel becomes more fluid, we can expect to see vacation destinations evolve more into luxury hot spots to meet pent-up demand from consumers looking to escape after the pandemic, allowing retailers to capitalize on the revenge spending phenomenon, ”Marci said. .
This includes retail outlets at airports, boutique stores in hotels, and even in-flight shopping options. Hotels will likely open small luxury boutiques in their lobbies, offering in-store clothing and styling sessions, as will the The Spectator in Charleston, which recently opened local luxury boutiques Hampden Clothing and Grady Ervin & Co.
The boom in face-to-face retailing is expected to continue in the years to come, as flagship luxury brands continue to open.
Over the summer, Burberry opened its flagship department store in London, located in the same neighborhood where the brand’s founder, Thomas Burberry, opened his first London store 130 years ago.
It’s also focused on experience. “We wanted to create a domestic shell, a house where art, culture and people move through intelligent and elegant modernity,” explains Vincenzo De Cotiis, the architect. Inside, accordion panels line the walls, so guests can each discover private viewing spaces. The brand will open other flagships over the next year in Shanghai, Paris and one on Bond Street in London.
Some luxury brands are setting up shops in the suburbs and resorts. Gucci has just opened a store in Oak Brook, Illinois, while Hermès has opened a store in Detroit. In Aspen, luxury brands Balenciaga and Overland Sheepskin Co. also recently opened their own retail stores, based on a brand’s research data.
“In recent years, luxury brands have reduced their online wholesale partnerships and are focusing on direct-to-consumer strategies to maintain exclusivity, achieve higher margins and control their prices and discounts. “said Marci. “This can extend to physical stores, allowing brands to invest in innovation and tailor their services to its high-income consumers.”