The Household team reviews the latest NYC retail destinations.
Nike House of Innovation 000
529 Broadway, 10012
Nike’s New York flagship has a strong presence on its corner site, making a huge statement of intent with a building exterior of glass, moulded and fluted to represent the air pockets in Nike trainers. This is more destination than store, with a limited range of stock relative to the size of the space.
Throughout the store there is a clever blend of digital and analogue communications, from constantly moving imagery to neon ratchet straps, wrapped around columns, to identify the floor customers are on. The cameras, screens, video wall and Back To The Future style self-lacing sneakers make the entrance feel very special. In contrast, for all the visual ‘tech’, the trainer floor feels less engaging. The experience has the usual trappings of buying footwear – like discarded boxes on the shop floor – rather than offering an innovative new experience. Nevertheless, the visually tech-intense space undoubtedly makes Nike feel ‘cool’.
To get the full flagship experience it really requires being a member and using the Nike App. This offers access additional services, from booking an appointment in the Nike Expert Studio to practical benefits like skipping the checkout queue and reserving items for locker pick up. Experience expectations are now sky-high, with seamless experiences highly desired. It is Nike’s effort to connect customers’ in-store and online experiences that really sets the flagship apart.
INTERSECT BY LEXUS
412 W 14th Street, 10014
The Lexus restaurant is a beautifully finished space, with details, finishes and motifs all drawn from the Lexus design language. There are enough visual references to make it obvious that the space is designed for and by a car brand, but without overwhelming brand comms it felt like a classy experience rather than a brash advert for the brand. Similarly, despite a number of different materials, finishes and textures used throughout the space, it didn’t feel busy or overworked and created a calm and considered atmosphere.
Intersect by Lexus feels like a place where you can dwell, with no pressure from staff about wandering around the space. Admittedly, this could mean that the drop-in guests could leave the space without properly understanding the purpose of the space and even the brand association. This will be a key challenge for the brand to navigate going forward.
7th Avenue, 10036
The CoverGirl store is worth a visit thanks to its interesting use of AI tech. The main fixture allows customers to virtually apply makeup, testing different shades of lipstick and eye shadow without the hassle of real-life application. Picking up a product from the fixture applies it to the customer’s face immediately. The tech is pretty effective, although it does get confused by anyone wearing glasses. Nevertheless, the colours were well rendered, and it is not only a helpful service but provides an entertaining experience for a group of friends shopping together.
A second key experience is the customisable lipstick station. Using an iPad, lipstick case can be customised with a set of pre-determined icons and a short phrase of choice. The interface was a bit clunky, but it was easy to navigate, and the lipstick could be printed in store and ready in 20 minutes.
Customisation is a key opportunity to engage with customers on a deeper level. The uptake of personalised services is contingent on whether the offer adds additional value to the customer. In the case of Covergirl, it is a fun ad-on to the experience, and it will be interesting to see how the brand extends the customisation offer in the future.
Starbucks Reserve New York Roastery
61 9th Avenue, 10011
A visual treat that’s so far removed from the typical Starbucks experience, the Starbucks Roastery will make your jaw drop as soon as you walk through the door. Coffee beans are roasted in store and distributed to each of the serveries along a series of tubes that are reminiscent of something from Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. As a result, the small amount of Starbucks themed retail on the ground floor – hats, denim shirts, mugs – felt a bit incongruous with the rest of the experience, but all good quality nonetheless.
Food experiences are driving individual and group spend, dwell and engagement as customers taste, experiment and come together to experience the shared joy of food, whilst navigating new priorities for consumption. The Reserve Roastery definitely taps into this mindset. Unlike standard Starbucks concessions, where operations are super-tight and intuitive, the design of the Starbucks Roastery facilitates a much more exploratory and leisurely customer journey, a whole new way to experience the brand.
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