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Are We Ready For New Retail Models? [PSFK NYC 2012]

Rachel Shechtman explains what inspired her to create the experimental STORY shop that creates community and a more fluid retail experience.

Dan Gould
Dan Gould on March 24, 2012.

We’re happy to have Rachel Shechtman as one of the speakers at our upcoming PSFK CONFERENCE NYC 2012. Rachel is the founder of Cube Ventures, a retail and marketing consultancy. She brings her strategies to life through STORY, a new physical retail marketing experience that has the point of view of a magazine, changes like a gallery and sells things like a store.

At our conference, Rachel will explain what inspired her to create STORY and how retail is moving towards a more fluid model that creates community and conveys stories.

Why was STORY created? What was the inspiration to create this novel, story-based shopping experience?

I have been consulting for 10 years and love playing translator, mashing together various business functions – primarily marketing, merchandising and business development. After executing strategies that integrated these functions for clients (and observing the successes), I was eager to try it for myself. I have been iterating the idea behind STORY for years.

I think we are ready for new models in retail – both for brands and consumers. As a technology savvy culture, we get news and information every second (and in other formats like daily newspapers and monthly magazines), yet most stores refresh goods four times a year and renovate after years. I believe it is time for all forms of retail to explore a more fluid format to mirror the rapid exchange of information in other areas of our lives.

STORY was created primarily based on two hypothesis:

  1. First that while retail will always be about consumption, I believe that story-driven content and community will be a vital component of the consumer dialogue.
  2. Second, on the brand side, I feel strongly that retail is an untapped frontier for advertising.

After running the space for a month, what have you learned?

I have learned:

  1. There is much more foot traffic on 10th avenue than I expected
  2. That if you create a compelling experience people will fly across the country for it
  3. That it is exhausting (but fun) to run a store
  4. That you can cater to 9 year olds and 60 year olds in an equally meaningful and relevant way

What do you attribute the success of STORY to? What can other business owners take away from your experience?

I have a 70/30 theory.  70% of what I believe consumers want is quality, service and something familiar (and value depending on the market and consumer) and 30% surprise and delight in the form of a good experience (they don’t know they want it but they respond to it!).

I believe our model taps into that and that is why we have been successful. We are merchandising and editing products as our version of editorial content, and consumers are loving it.  Transactional Storytelling! We have customers begging our sales staff and emailing our manager to find out the next STORY.

If we were a traditional retailer, I doubt we would be getting emails saying “what is in your window next month?”  We are building a community and telling stories and therefore giving customers a reason to come back every four to six weeks!  By creating a model that hardwires a sticky element to the consumer experience, we aren’t just logging sales but building strong relationships.

Thanks Rachel!

Story / @rachelshechtman

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