Day3: Inspiration from Retail Safari in San Francisco
We want transformations before transactions. Retailers offering us the possibility to become a better, more beautiful, stronger, happier, or even cleverer version of ourselves will win the battle. And its starts at the arena of the consumer seeking out communities and events, not goods. The retail store is transforming itself from a place showing and selling goods, to a meeting place inviting the customer inside to spend time with each other and the brand.
Visiting Sweaty Betty is always giving you a welcoming feeling. In their store in Union Street they have dedicated almost 1/3 of the square meters to a cosy area, where you are offered to taste two different types of kombucha from the tap.
While spending time in the store, you can’t help noticing how they tap into the more embracing and new definition of health and how Sweaty Betty is much more than just a pair of yoga pants. It’s an attitude and a life philosophy connecting customers.
If you are a cycle enthusiast, you probably already know Rapha. Rapha is a cycle community, a brand, and a store. I visited Rapha’s first physical store located in Filbert Street in San Francisco.
Rapha started out as an online community in 2014, and established its first retail store, also called Clubhouse in 2010. Today Rapha have more than 13,000 members and 22 Clubhouses worldwide. As a member you pay a yearly fee of 200$ and you get access to a wide range of club rides, races, events and news keeping you up to date with your cycle passion. Even though the retail store look much like a coffee shop, Rapha is a retail brand and you can buy their cycling clothes and merchandise online as well as instore.
Away, the innovative cool luggage brand, in Hayes Valley invites customers to get a taste of where they want to go next at a wine and destination exploration in their physical store.
At the Prana yoga store, customers are invited in to free yoga training.
What they do, as many others, is so called “class room retailing”. Educating and entertaining the customers first. Selling product second.
REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.)
At REI you can buy all you need for outdoor adventures. REI is a consumer cooperative. For 20$ you can get a lifetime membership. As a member you get access to an annual member dividend on all your purchases as well as a wide range of free activities, classes and events like “How to pack a Backpack workshop”, or “Bear Bags and Backcountry Food Storage Workshop”. In addition to getting a discount on gear, you get a special member discount on Outdoor trips. This is true “class-room retailing”.
SoulCycle offers inspirational, meditative fitness experience in more than 80 physical places. It’s basically indoor cycling. But set in dark candlelit studios. But it’s much more than a fitness experience. SoulCycle invites members to participate in a happiness challenge combining physical and mental improvements. You can buy SoulCycles fitness outfit both in the physical studios as well as online.
When retailers become meeting places, yoga, and fitness clubs, clubs becomes retailers and it’s often difficult to distinguish which is which.
When all come to all – we are all in the business of transformation – battling for the scarce attention span and time of the consumers.