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  • Clément Fages

Sorel, Google, Netflix... 10 retail and customer experience ideas (16 - 20 October)

On the menu of this week's 10 ideas: small shop formats are all the rage, as are pop-up stores and other event venues, with openings from Sorel, Anthropologie, Google and Netflix, as well as Nitori and Søstrene Grene. Meanwhile, Domino's Pizza is revamping its loyalty programme, and Velvet Taco is unveiling a new recipe invented by ChatGPT.

Sorel opens its first pop-up store

On Friday 13 October, the far from superstitious shoe brand Sorel celebrated its fiftieth anniversary by opening its first pop-up shop in the Williamsburg district of Brooklyn, New York. In just over a hundred square metres of the brand's signature orange, visitors will have access to an augmented reality experience through a mirror that reflects them by adding a number of filters and effects, a customisation area dedicated to the boots, and a gallery displaying works by local artists. In addition to the autumn collection, the shop will also sell limited edition boots developed with singer and actress Chloe Bailey. The pop-up store will close on 22 October. According to Retail Dive, it is a perfect illustration of the repositioning work undertaken by Sorel, which specialises in men's work boots, to a more feminine and fashionable brand. The brand's net sales increased by 32% between Q2 2022 and Q2 2023.

Small format, the key to tomorrow's shop?

Keen to enter urban shopping centres, retailers are increasingly moving away from large spaces to develop smaller, more tailored, and personalised shops. Where large shops require too much land to build warehouses and car parks, smaller urban units are enabling brands such as Ikea, Macy's, and The Container Store to reach out to a new population of shoppers, often with great success. Bloomie's, Macy's small format, is performing better than the other department stores' chains, with sales up by 12% in Q4 2022. The Container Store reports that 70% of customers in certain shops have never seen the brand before. What's more, these small formats are forcing retailers to reduce their assortment and stock levels, and so keep their costs under control. Target, which had launched such a strategy in 2019, decided earlier this year to close four shops in the north-east of the United States.

Netflix unveils its first permanent shops

Fans have been dreaming about it, and Netflix has done it: the SVOD platform is going to open permanent points of sale to offer its aficionados immersive experiences, derivative products and even catering offers inspired by their favourites. Scheduled for 2025, the development of these physical outlets is planned initially in the United States, before expanding worldwide. The aim is for the platform to use these venues as visibility tools for its shows, rather than as genuine additional business levers.

American restaurateurs entrust the creation of their menus to AI

A piece of flank steak, burnt prawns, chilli aioli, chimochurri, a few potatoes, grilled onion, queso fresco, chunks of jalapeño and coriander, all in a corn tortilla... This is Chat GPTaco, which will be one of Velvet Taco's best-selling products in 2023, based on ChatGPT's recommendations. It's not the only one: more and more chains across the Atlantic are using generative AI to imagine new recipes and combinations, without any preconceived ideas, simply based on customers' tastes. With 50% of restaurant owners banking on automation in the next few years, ChatGPT could find itself in the front line, alongside robots automating order preparation and delivery.

Søstrene Grene steps up its expansion in the UK

Danish home furnishings retailer Søstrene Grene has announced that it will be opening its first shop in the heart of London by the end of the year. A lease for a shop of just under 500 square metres has just been signed on Tottenham Court Walk. This will be only the second London shop for the brand, following the opening of a first space in Wandsworth last April. Søstrene Grene has stated its intention to open 100 new shops in the UK by 2030, capitalising on the success of its expansion in the UK, as well as in France and Germany, where it operates 35 and 70 shops respectively.

Café, meeting rooms, and shop: Google opens Mountain View to the general public

Last week, Google opened part of its campus to the general public. While the offices are still private, an experiential centre, including a shop selling the company's products, bookable meeting and conference rooms and a café serving food from local restaurants, is now open to visitors. A space dedicated to events and ephemeral boutiques has also been unveiled. This project has been on Google's drawing board for years. Put on hold by the pandemic, it will enable the digital giant to give its campus a new look, in order to appeal not only to its employees but also to the local community, at a time when the company is looking to open a new campus in San José.

Anthropologie launches a pop-up store with Pinterest

Fashion and homeware brand Anthropologie, along with its sister brand Terrain, opened a pop-up showroom in New York last week in partnership with Pinterest. Until 15 October, the Anthropologie x Pinterest Holiday Showhouse gave visitors the chance to discover the brand's collection by appointment. Each product was accompanied by a QR code linking to the boutique created by Anthropologie on the Pinterest platform, which in turn gave the showroom designer the benefit of its insights into decorating trends.

Japanese retailer Nitori wins over the Thais

40 minutes: that's the maximum waiting time that some shoppers in Bangkok's Central World shopping centre have spent in front of Thailand's first Nitori shop. Opened at the end of August, this shop symbolises the new strategy of the brand, which has seen its sales begin to stagnate in Japan after three decades of growth. Akio Nitori, the company's chairman, sees South-East Asia as a strategic area, and promises to entrust his best talents with the task of leading this expansion abroad, with a view to competing with Ikea. His aim is to open 77 shops during the current financial year, double the number opened the previous year. Countries such as Vietnam and Indonesia are being targeted, after China and Taiwan. This would give the brand more shops abroad than in Japan.

Amazon opens its first zero-carbon shop

A high-tech grocery shop that is above all green: that's the promise of the Amazon Fresh shop in Seattle, recently certified by the International Living Futur Institute, which awards zero-carbon certification. As soon as the shop opened in March 2022, Amazon indicated that it wanted to obtain this certification and use it as a strong signal of its strategy to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040. Amazon claims to have saved the equivalent of 100 tonnes of CO2 since the shop opened, thanks to the use of a natural cooling system, energy-saving electrical equipment and low-emission concrete. The store also sells certified environmentally-friendly products, both food and non-food.

Domino's Pizza offsets inflation with promotions

Domino's Pizza is counting on consumers returning to its restaurants despite the rise in menu prices. To achieve this, it is relying on greater generosity, through an improved loyalty programme and more frequent promotional offers. While the rise in delivery charges has penalised online sales, the chain has introduced offers of 50% off online orders, while offering more points redeemable via its loyalty programme to customers who order more frequently.

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