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Here comes the sun!

Running wild

First things first… a huge shout out to our Scott who ran yesterday’s London marathon in sweltering temperatures. A record 386,050 people applied for this year’s race – almost a third more than 2017 and the highest number for any marathon in the world. If only they hadn’t run out of water…

Moving swiftly on, as we enter the second quarter of 2018, the evolution of physical retail shows no signs of abating. Big retail centres are defying the doomsayers as they continue to reconfigure themselves as consumer hubs for entertainment, education and fitness alongside the traditional retail offer. Brands are embracing the new store model designed to excite customers, and online pure players are recognising the advantages of bricks and mortar locations.

The retail landscape continues its trend towards experience. Stores are transforming into destinations where shoppers are encouraged to see, explore, try and buy through any channel they want. Unexpected collaborations are shifting the sands of traditional offerings, tapping into the pursuit of instant gratification and personal connection.

Zara taps into Click & Collect with a debut technology driven pop-up. The big draw? Customers can receive their items same day if ordered before 2pm.

ZARA CLICK & COLLECT

The pop-up will feature an easy payment system operated via Bluetooth, and will also handle customer returns or exchanges. Store associates will be on hand with mobile devices to help customers navigate the concept.

Zara’s Westfield Stratford pop-up will feature a product recommendation system using RFID technology. Customers will be able to scan an item to receive more information on it, and suggestions for coordinating garments and accessories.

Ford is opening a digital car concession concept in Next’s newly-refurbished store in Manchester’s Arndale shopping centre.

NEXT X ROCKAR

The hybrid fashion and motoring concept is a collab between Ford, Next and motoring retail specialist Rockar..

Next first announced a deal with Rockar back in January, with a scheme to give people the chance to shop for clothes and a new car in the same store.

It’s not as strange as you might think, with entry model car leases costing about the same as a high-end smartphone contract. This blend of bigger, more diverse offerings in shopping centres marks a real shift in purchasing habits.

We are scouting the globe, not only for the best retailers but also looking at how we can provide a platform for the wider evolution of retail.

A NEW RETAIL AND LEISURE DESTINATION

The Battersea Power Station Development Company (BPSDC), has unveiled details of the development set to become London’s newest retail and leisure destination.

Apple has chosen the site for its new 50,000sq ft London office. Due for completion in 2020, said the Grade II listed former power plant will split its retail offering in half between Turbine Hall A and Turbine Hall B.

If shopping around for a good night’s sleep conjures awkward moments of lying stiffly on display beds, head to Casper in NYC.

BED HEADS

The online mattress start-up has opened its first permanent store in New York. The physical experience has six mini-bedrooms in the shape of birdhouses where customers can stop by to test products, including pillows, sheets and duvets.

Steps lead up to the bedrooms where customers can take a nap. Every product can be bought and shipped immediately, arriving within two hours if they live in New York.

The 3,000sq ft space came as a direct response to customers turning up at the Casper offices wanting to try the mattress before buying.

Quel horreur!

A French mayor’s idea of a joke went horribly wrong when she announced plans for the arrival of a giant Ikea store in the picturesque town of Beauvais.

Instead of causing an uproar which she planned to laughingly dash with a jovial cry of April fool, residents were delighted by the news and the prospect of 4,000 new jobs coming to the high-unemployment area.  Mayor Caroline Cayeux was forced to put her hands up and come clean, prompting a barrage of anger and accusations of disdain for local jobseekers. One resident hit back by tweeting “We will all vote for you in the next election… #AprilFools”

Virgin ‘Departure Beach’, Barbados

Brands are embracing the value of the Instagrammable experience, so why not take it to the next level for a small charge? Virgin Holidays is set to open the first ever ‘departure beach’ this summer in Barbados, inviting passengers chill by the ocean while they wait to board their flight.

Virgin will pick up customers from their hotel, check their baggage, then take them to the beach. Guests receive their boarding pass and a locker for their hand luggage before enjoying the beach, unlimited refreshments, and an air-conditioned lounge. Virgin conveniently provides beach towels and shower facilities. The service starts at £15.

It’s a smart way to elevate the customer experience with extra post-purchase delight.

United Colours of Benetton

United Colours of Benetton has opened a new three-storey 1600sq ft flagship on Oxford Street.

Positioned intentionally to benefit from the boost in footfall expected when the Elizabeth Line opens later this year, this is Benetton’s 16th UK store.

With plans pressing ahead to transform Oxford Street into a pedestrianised zone filled with public art, Benetton is staking its claim early.

The symbolism of the bridge is a beautiful metaphor to connect the technology of the future with the old city, in a way that brings out the best of both worlds. - Joris Laarman

Beauty and the bridge

Four robots have taken 6 months to 3D print a beautiful, complex metal bridge for Amsterdam. designed by Joris Laarman Lab, the bridge is scheduled to be installed in 2019, where it will span across Oudezijds Achterburgwal, one of the oldest and most famous canals in the city.

Beast from the east

According to reports, the beast from the east cost British supermarkets £22m in lost sales as people stayed home. Sales of tinned soup rose 27.5% while hot drink sales increased by 8.4% as people reacted to the colder weather.

Easter bank holiday was a wash out too with heavy rain putting a damper on everyone’s plans. A week before, Springboard predicted that this Easter weekend’s UK retail footfall could end up 2.4% higher than last year’s, though it had said this assumed “normal weather”. In the event, all bets were off.

Whole Foods 365

Amazon-owned Whole Foods have launched New York’s first Whole Foods 365 store, a relatively new concept which sees them competing against cheaper supermarket offerings. Founded on the principle that fresh healthy foods can be readily available to more people in an affordable way, the store features a vendor area for healthy foods clustered like a mini food hall.

Wider aisles and a more considered design make the store feel transparent in its offer. The overall set-up is geared to convey great quality AND value. We’re intrigued to see how this is going to progress and interact with technology.

RB12 Shoreditch

A new design space and concept store, RB12, has opened in Shoreditch. It’s aim is to reinvigorate the London design scene with inspirational design, excellent quality, personal service and stimulating sensory experiences.

RB12 will offer exquisite global design brands, many of which will be exclusive to RB12 or new to the UK.

Think totally curated spaces that give a richer experience.

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