Innovation in Retail

Neil Golub is Sales Executive with Xceligent in the New York Tri-State area. Connect with Neil on LinkedIn: NeilGolub.

Our New York Next Generation ICSC Committee assembled a diverse group of companies to discuss “The Emergence and Impact of Disruptive Retail Concepts”. As retail faces headwinds with economic challenges and changes in consumer behavior, it was insightful to hear from these companies who have sprouted over the past few years by listening and adapting to the market.

Represented were real estate directors from Peloton, Bonobos, Honeygrow, Kidzania and Appear Here, a platform focused on short-term space. The common theme among these groups was catering to a younger demographic and being able to serve their needs. Today’s consumer is now accustomed to shopping online. The storefront needs to catch up and match the internet by adopting technology. The shopper doesn’t have time for someone to go in the back and see if a product is in stock. Andrew Neelon from Bonobos described their shopping environment as an e-commerce transaction that takes place within 4 walls of their brick n mortar, all ordering taking place on an iPad. Honeygrow is also incorporating tech by having customers place orders via touch-screen.

Outside of technology, there was a lot of discussion around pop-ups and brands going direct-to-consumer. Ryan Engel talked about how Peloton began “popping up” back in 2013, doing 1-2 year lease deals so they could begin educating the market. Appear Here has built a platform catering to the pop-up market by allowing retail brands to go direct to consumer. There are too many financial and operational challenges in finding the right location, which also requires a long-term commitment. Popping up allows for the brand to test the market. In addition, landlords need to innovate and think differently. Elizabeth Layne, Appear Here’s CMO, gave a great analogy stating “the best landlords think like Editors. Owners need to keep the content fresh and up to date and wanting the consumer to come back for more”. Simon has been a leader in this space. Cynthia Kernan of Westfield moderated the panel and mentioned they’re working on a DTC area in Century City, allowing for online brands to reach consumers which will consistently rotate.

The discussion also covered changes in lease terms, desired co-tenancy and creating quality experiences for their customers. My main takeaway.. if you’re a retailer – think about how you’re speaking the language and catering to the next generation. What worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. How are you utilizing your space and technology to build your brand and customer loyalty? Perhaps if you’re still handing out paper rewards cards, you may want to explore another way to have them return.

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