December 6, 2012

Turning Heads

With companies like Target, H&M, Macy's, and all the designer upon designer partnerships from the last year, collaborations have become so passé. This approach of bringing high-end names to the mid-market through capsule collections and limited edition product assortments is losing its appeal among shoppers. It's time retailers bring us forward into the next phase of innovation by pushing the concept shop even further. So, with that said, what cutting-edge business formats are turning heads? With 2013 almost upon us, let's give our attention to the companies who are leaving the status quo behind and really experimenting in the marketplace.

First up is Table of Contents based in the artsy Old Town Chinatown district of Portland and filled with a curated selection of up and coming designers and rare finds. Inspired by the process of editing books and magazines, this shop is compared to a "three-dimensional publication" with each season having its own key theme. While the owners, Joseph Magliaro and Shu Hung, firmly believe the in-store experience is crucial, they also heavily rely on their online presence as a major means of generating profits and expanding their global reach. Keep a look out for this duo because they may be bringing this super modern concept shop to a city near you soon!

We all know and love Etsy and now (until Saturday) the world's largest e-commerce marketplace of handmade and vintage products brings its online community to life right in the heart of SoHo. With carefully selected goodies, special events, and real-time demonstrations, this holiday pop-up features a list of curators like Martha Stewart, Tavi Gevinson, and Bobbie Thomas, among many others. The crafty e-commerce site turned holiday shop even features a booth selling giftcards for online purchases and gifts. Etsy is just one of a string of online retailers to open up pop-up spots across the city over the past few months. As the tables continue to turn between online/offline, we may be seeing more websites take on this approach to build personability, branding, and real life experiences for their customers through traditional brick and mortar stores.

photo via ASOS

ASOS continues to be the leader as the hottest (and most successful) global online retailer for Gen Y-ers and now they are taking it to the next level by expanding into the luxury resale market. How you ask? Well, they recently invested in Covetique, a site selling previously owned luxury designer clothing and accessories. While ASOS does sell vintage merchandise and resale via its marketplace, nothing as high-end as Prada and Alexander McQueen. Also, rumors are surfacing that the trendy shopping site is finally looking for real estate in SoHo. Don't get your hopes up too high just yet...real estate as in office space! However, we suspect this may be the first of many steps towards future U.S. retail opportunities for the e-commerce powerhouse.

video via Puma

By incorporating technology in their store design, Puma gives a digital spin to traditional sports gear. Last year, the company launched their "Puma Joy Pad," a wall of 32-interconnected iPads producing a full on interactive media experience featuring touchscreens to play games. In-store you'll also find a "peep show" in the fitting rooms where customers can open the door and find random multi-media images of everything from a hamster to a disco ball.

photo via Rubina Magazine is an e-commerce site that sells beautiful hand-crafted accessories made by women artisans from around the world. The concept was inspired by a trip to Pakistan back in 2005 when founder, Kari Litzmann met a woman named Rubina who dreamt of starting her own business but did not have the financial means to do so. The company's primary mission is to help the "Rubinas" of the world move forward in their communities through a collaborative business model that gives them a more viable means of selling.

video via Uslu Airlines

Uslu Airlines has been one of our favorite brands for a while now. This makeup company is constantly re-thinking their marketing approaches as well as their product selection. From asking men which lipstick shade they like on women to creating a nail polish line that matches a Berlin made sunglass collection, they keep thinking outside the box.

All of these companies are a great examples of how retail is evolving and where it should go as we move into the coming year. The market is moving so quickly and as we move forward into a new age, traditional brick and mortar operations just simply won't be enough. Those that remain open minded and fearless to bring new concepts to the table will without a doubt find success by not only offering fantastic products, but by creating a sense of community for their customers.

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