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Retail Innovation|September 09, 2021

Destination: Innovation. 4 Retail-Shaking Store Concepts

Sure, more shoppers are going back to stores, but which ones, and for what reasons? Now that tech has irreversibly changed the shopping trip, retailers have to anticipate a future when consumers find stores less important. These innovative approaches, discovered by our WSL Retail Safari® scouts, are turning stores into destinations. 

It’s Time for Retailers to Shake Up the Store 

Home shopping has become a habit, particularly for the household categories many retail segments now sell. So how do the retailers transform their brick stores into newly relevant destinations that supplement – not replace – their online business? 

Knowing that retailers always rise to the occasion, we wagered there are lots of examples out there. So we sent our WSL Retail Safari® scouts out to find them. And they did. 

These 4 Retailers are Changing What’s In Store 

Pharmacies Turn to Natural Healing

Rite Aid, with its RxEvolution concept, has let the light in, replacing concrete with outdoor lighting that transforms the inner store. There’s an evident nod to new-age care throughout: Shoppers are encouraged to ask their pharmacists about alternative remedies; and in the beauty department cascading greens create a spa-like feeling reinforced by an inside-out approach to beauty that begins with ingestibles and ends with cosmetics. Health is emphasized through private rooms where customers can meet with (virtual) professionals, approachable pharmacists who are out from behind the counters and good-for-you choices in the snack displays. So much of RxEvolution follows the shopper insights WSL has been reporting in our “Big Business of WELL” surveys since 2014. If Rite Aid can expand this innovative format to all stores, WSL will give it 4.5 stars. 


Large Retailer Joins Forces With Beauty Powerhouse

Target is elevating its appeal as a destination by partnering with Ulta to create store-within-store boutiques. Prestige brands like MAC, Clinique, Tarte and Clarins – all distributed by Ulta – are now available in Target as part of the Ulta boutique. Within the boutiques, trained Ulta beauty advisors know the brands and can guide shoppers through its virtual try-on technology. Further, the Ulta and Target loyalty programs are easily combined to earn shoppers extra rewards, and Ulta’s bright orange color scheme in panels and fixtures (in contrast to Target’s red) integrates Ulta into the store flow. If both retailers could just get more inventory on the shelf, WSL would give the alliance a five-star rating.


Beauty Chains are Turning to Whole Health Approach

Mecca, the Australian beauty chain, is strengthening its stores as destinations by extending its “physical” beauty treatments – for the brows, hair and skin – to whole “person” care. Mecca flagship store offers naturopathic consultations, a piercing lab and fertility suites, which together support its holistic health, wellness and reproduction strategy. Consideration is taken to ensure comfort and support throughout – the fertility suites are furnished with comfy recliners and designed to encourage open conversations about sensitive subjects related to sexual wellness. A splendid example of retail leaning into an unexpected, yet complementary, territory. WSL gives it five stars.


Quality Customer Service Will Always Stand Out

Nordstrom’s service can be addictive, and it keeps upping the ante to maintain its stores as destinations. In the New York City location, the security guard at the door provided one WSL scout with detailed directions, including landmarks, to the online order pick-up counter. When our shopper stopped to admire an outfit on a mannequin en route, a nearby salesperson knew the brand and where to buy it, two floors up. And at the online pick-up, the associate added extra tissue to the box (remember gift boxes?), plus a reusable shopping bag. Not only did our happy shopper stay longer, she spent more. Many shoppers choose to shop online because the in-store experience is unpredictable, but not so at Nordstrom – it’s service has been part of the Nordstrom culture for decades and is consistently executed across the chain. WSL gives Nordstrom 4.5 stars for using service to bring shoppers into the store. (We’d have given Nordstrom five stars if more associates were on the floors to help shoppers.) 


Yes, Traditional Shopping Has Been Shaken Up, but...

...a shift in how people buy does not erase the desire for excitement, wonder and adventure when they do shop. Retailers, use your imagination. Your future store counts on it.

WSL Strategic Retail looks for the innovations that inform more profitable retail and brand decisions. To learn more about our research, including our latest Retail Safaris®, visit us here


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