So, what exactly is a concept store? Essentially, it’s a store that sells a carefully selected and often uniquely designed collection of items which tie into an overall theme. Very often they evoke a specific lifestyle, which appeals to a certain target demographic. Concept stores have emerged as a successful business model over recent years, due to the increased popularity of celebrities who are keen on “stressing out” their personal style through the purchase of exclusive merchandise.
Concept stores work well in urban environments and provide retailers with a unique way of providing customers with the latest fashion, whilst also responding to consumer demands. Retailers are increasingly using concept stores to respond to consumer feedback and to provide a more personal and bespoke shopping experience. This has led to an increased interest by retailers in this area and retailers such as ASOS, Uniques, Cold Storage and Calvin Klein have all recently launched their own concept store. As well as these major retailers, independent high street store owners have been growing increasingly interested in offering their own concepts, as they realise that it allows them to take on the unique challenges posed by operating in a different marketplace.
Retailers have been slow to acknowledge the benefits of offering concept stores, but few retailers have been able to make a success of them so far. One of the reasons that it has not been successful is because most retailers think that they need to design concept stores around specific celebrity brands. Alternatively, retailers may choose to design concept stores around a particular celebrity or design theme, but without enough forethought to how customers will experience the shopping experience. Retailers therefore tend to over-complicate their design process, which can lead to poor store layout and customer experience.
In reality, many of the most popular UK retailers offer concept store space for brand name products. Retailers like Versace, Dior and Louis Vuitton are all understood to have stores, which sell items associated with one of their main labels. However, other retailers who offer fashion forward clothing at a premium, such as Marks & Spencer and Macys, have not successfully launched their own concept store. While this may be due to the fact that they do not sell clothing associated with popular brands, it could also mean that these stores have failed to effectively market themselves.
The best way to get a concept store off the ground is to create a stylish store that appeals to customers. Retailers who understand customer behaviour and appeal are better able to tailor a store to suit specific brands and individual needs. For example, Marks & Spencer understand the needs of both fashion-conscious consumers and those who simply want good value for money. This means that they offer both designer brands and traditional department store brands. By combining these two aspects, they create a really smart store which caters to both budgets and tastes.
In conclusion, there are many advantages of launching new retail concept stores. These advantages include attracting attention from the public, improving brand recall, improving store usability, positioning the business in the community, improving sales, attracting customers through the internet, diversifying the customer base, and creating a competitive advantage. In essence, retailers can use these concept stores to develop a name and reputation in their chosen market area and improve upon the returns that they make by selling quality products at a good price.