Does Your Retail Have a Soul?

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by: David Polinchock

I know, you’re thinking that it’s a dumb question relating to a whole
bunch of mumbo jumbo, new age stuff, but let me explain. On the Friday
after Christmas, Sarah DaVanzo & I spent the day walking through
all of the shops along Madison Avenue, starting at about 59th Street.
We visited all of the high-end, luxury stores for about 20 blocks and
what we found were stores without a soul. Stores that had no energy, no life to them and were, in many cases didn’t have many people in them either.

They were what we’d call ‘web stores.’ Physical stores with
merchandise, staff and everything you’d expect at a store, but
operating as if they were little more then a web site — and sometimes
a snooty one at that! Point at something to get more information and
maybe touch it. Otherwise, it’s a store that does little more then a
web site does. In fact, at some stores, we got less info. We stopped in
at one cool looking shop from a perfume brand from the 1700’s but the
sales person there seemed pretty uninterested in sharing their heritage
and story with us.

In contrast, stores that we would say had a soul, were
crowded and have a definite life to them. There were expected lines to
the Apple store & FAO Schwatz stores on 5th Avenue, but the
Abercrombie store on 5th had a line as well. Crate & Barrel was
humming with activity and people touching and enjoying the merchandise.

And some of our new favorite stores along Madison:

    • The DKNY
      store that was letting guests take pictures of themselves and adding
      their pictures to the photo montage playing on all of the digital
      monitors around the store. Plus they had a cafe for either shoppers to
      take a break or to entertain the non-shoppers so those shopping could
      actually enjoy themselves.
    • The Juicy Couture store, that
      continued their brand experience throughout the store, including the
      dressing rooms. And it was about the only store we saw with teenagers
      once we left FAO & Apple.
    • We LOVED the two Ralph Lauren
      stores! They were so alive in every way. Merchandise, store design,
      merchandise and staff. And you know what all of that energy generated?
      Judging by the transactions we saw going on, sales.
    • We’re putting together a more detailed review and some trends now
      and you look for them to be released during the Retail Advertising
      Conference next month. But, if you’re investing in physical space and
      paying all of those costs just to create a ‘web store,’ you’re wasting
      a lot of good money and some great business opportunities.

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