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shaping the future of retail


Not so long ago, property was the main indicator of wealth and an end in itself. The more and more land, cars, album and book collections we had, the higher we stood on the social ladder.

However, with the rise of nomadic lifestyles, every song and book at our fingertips, and more knowledge than ever available in less than a second, today’s millennials are striving for minimalism. With digitization and global community building projects that focus on sharing, it’s less about ownership and more about access.

In line with this development came a series of sharing economies that have set the world on fire. Of course, the concept of the sharing economy is nothing new. It dates back thousands of years, when cavemen and women developed their first sharing economy.

However, stunning innovations in the use of data and entirely new ways of thinking about services over the past few decades have spawned a new and highly developed breed of sharing economies such as Uber, Work Away, Rent the Runway, Wikipedia and Airbnb.

Terms like talent sharing, coworking, shared travel and home lending have become commonplace and are redefining the way we work, learn, communicate, trade and travel.

Showcase belongs to this innovative family of sharing economies. As the Airbnb of retail, it aims to make retailing as accessible and simple as booking a hotel room, thereby confidently leading the fast-changing industry into the future.

A change in retail

As explained by Storefront CEO for Asia, Benoit Clément-Boli The renaissance of physical stores: as consumer migration to online shopping became mainstream on a massive scale, brands worldwide started investing in improving their digital channels to the detriment of traditional retail channels.

The popularity of online shopping has proved fatal for some companies, and for many of those that have survived, the quality of their in-store services has been compromised. Congested stores, understaffing, less experienced salespeople, and less foot traffic in local hotspots seemed to herald the death of brick-and-mortar stores.

What we were really experiencing, however, were the birth pangs of a new retail tradition, a renaissance of brick-and-mortar stores, so to speak.

Physical stores continue to be of great importance as they offer a better and more irreplaceable shopping experience and allow brands to build trust and build relationships with customers in a way that virtual stores cannot.

Following this recognition, both brick-and-mortar retailers and e-commerce giants are actively reshaping the industry by adopting multi-channel strategies, micro-retailing and reaching new demographics by launching pop-up stores.

The phenomenon of pop-up windows

Proving to be more than just a trend, the pop-up phenomenon has taken the industry by storm. Pop-up stores are cost-effective, minimize risk for newcomers, allow brands to test new locations and allow businesses to be where they need to be at key commercial times.

Moreover, due to the temporary nature of limited-time pop-ups, brands can create significant buzz around new product lines, drive brand awareness, engage in amazing collaborations, and challenge themselves to achieve a higher level of creativity in the process of developing a unique in-store experience.

In fact, as a conversation with Storefront co-founder and COO Adrien Kerbrath made clear, the pop-up is being used effectively across the board five stages product life.

The showcase leads the way

In just a few years, Storefront has quickly grown into a global company with offices in New York, London, Paris, Amsterdam and Hong Kong. As is typical of businesses in the sharing economy, it is not an intermediary, but a platform that provides short-term rental of retail space to companies that want to open a pop-up shop.

Describing it as “Airbnb, eBay and Uber rolled into one,” Professor David Bell of the Wharton School of Business explains that “Storefront matched excess capacity with demand for capacity in an efficient and scalable way.”

Leveraging society’s shift towards a sharing culture, the evolution of the retail industry and the opportunities created by pop-up retail, Storefront’s online platform excels in connecting diverse stakeholders and building community:

  • Mall operators, landlords and developers have the ability to quickly and aggressively address vacancy issues, diversify what might otherwise be static retail, generate foot traffic and spark life into neighborhoods and cities.

  • Helping startups and established brands reach new demographics, enter new markets in a cost-effective way, and generate revenue.

  • Consumers, in turn, benefit from an enhanced shopping experience.

To further increase transparency around pricing and availability, and turn simple transactional meetings into productive relationships between tenants and property owners, in early 2018 Storefront launched a suite of new messaging and booking features that provide direct communication. This is unique to online retailers.

In addition to contributing to the community in terms of quality and seamless commercial real estate liquidity, Storefront is very committed to fostering a culture of learning through participation in workshops and with magazine which publishes stories of creative projects and shares thoughts.

However, it does not stop there. Co-founder and CEO Mohammed Khawash expressed hope that Storefront would eventually shed the Airbnb label and move to a model that achieves rental-free pop-ups.

Anyone should have access to the tools to open a trading floor. By commoditizing retail, landlords could eventually adopt a different commission-driven business model, where the success of the brand becomes the success of the landlord. At the end of the day, it’s about unleashing creativity and giving every designer and entrepreneur the opportunity to flourish.

Based on this, we would say that the main purpose of Storefront is to bring the community together to share the future of retail.

Showcase on the front line

Business growth is much more than just expansion. It is equally about consolidation. We are talking about acquisition and preservation This is especially true in the case of Storefront.

Providing a platform for various stakeholders in the retail industry to capitalize on the opportunities presented by pop-up retail, Storefront is a key player transforming the industry. Central to his efforts is the concept of community, which is defined by creativity and rapid adaptation.

Looking ahead, as Storefront expands into new markets and potentially expands its reach to include different retail sectors and reach other industries such as hospitality, services and education, we’re excited to see how it will support a culture of sharing and how it will continue to nurture a sense of community.

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