#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
#
A
Z
Retail innovation beyond the shop door: Lessons from the USA (part 2)
Current
list Article list

Retail innovation beyond the shop door: Lessons from the USA (part 2)

Posted 18.09.2019
By Grigor Grigorov

In this three-part blog series, Grigor highlights three aspects that help make US shops create value not only for developers but also the people using them: 1) Catalyst for growth 2) The public face of corporations 3) The greater good. Here’s the second installment.

2. The public face of corporations

As publicly accessible spaces under private ownership, retail properties provide a connection between an organisation and the public. They’re becoming places where the exchange of ideas, awareness and data is more valuable than the exchange of goods. Here are three examples of retail whose value is derived not from direct sales, but from the role it plays for the bigger organisation behind it.

Online experience in the offline world

The Amazon Go shop, located in Manhattan’s Brookfield Place Shopping Center embodies the values of its parent company – convenience and speed. You enter the store via an app linked to your Amazon account (and your credit card), you get what you want from the shelves and you leave without going via a till or a check-out. Using various clever technologies Amazon tracks you throughout the store, monitoring the items you pick up and charging you for them as you walk out. The store is effectively a walk-in vending machine.

I was hoping that this technology would have “liberated” the amazon staff in the store to engage with the customers in new ways, but found my queries rebuked by a woman stating she is not paid enough to talk to me. They are only there to re-stock shelves, presumably because robots are not good enough at doing it yet.

For Amazon, the modest space offers a way to test and highlight its revolutionary and potentially very profitable technology, as well as to monitor human behaviour in a real space, collecting further data on its customers.

For anyone concerned with the future of low-skilled jobs or privacy, it raises some very significant questions.

Why Google bought a market

Chelsea Market in Manhattan houses a mix of flea markets, independent food producers and restaurants, combining manufacturing and retail at ground level, with an additional eight floors of offices above. Built in the 19th century, the building was bought by Google for more than $2.4bn last year. Why?

#
Inside Chelsea Market – a flea market of cheap curiosities

Firstly, it’s a touchpoint for building a positive relationship with the local communities, which use the market and have influence over the area’s future.

Secondly, it’s effectively the staff canteen for the YouTube employees in the office building above. In the tech world’s war for talent, Google has always stood out by offering unique amenities and benefits to it employees, and this central-Manhattan foodie destination is one of its selling points.

#
Inside Chelsea Market – an internal street lined with artisan F&B offers

Thirdly, like Amazon, Google is likely using the public space to collect real-world data on people and their behaviour, which is probably far more valuable than the merchandise on display.

In short, the market’s real purpose is to attract and establish relationships between different “tribes” within Manhattan.

A gateway into the WeCompany

Made by We in Manhattan is a space split into two halves. From the street you walk into a coffee bar featuring colourful exhibition-style displays of products developed by WeWork members. Beyond this, accessed via a check-in/out system similar to that of a gym, is WeWork’s pay-per-minute workspace, outfitted with various working stations, meeting rooms and phone booths, geared towards individuals or small groups of people.

#
Made by We – coffee bar and retail space

The purpose of the space is to give anyone access to the world of the WeWork members and to remove the traditional boundaries that exist between office workers and the public. It is a space that represents the changing ways in which people work, reflecting the emergence of freelancing and the gig-economy.

Even though WeWork is not a retail developer, it is using a retail space to promote its business model in a highly visible and accessible way. This “shop” is not about selling products, it is selling the WeWork brand and the successes of its members. Its value would be derived not from direct sales, but through the awareness it raises and the long-term members it recruits.

#
Made by We - entrance to pay-as-you-go workspace
#
Made by We – the work space is tiered into levels with a variety of workstations