How Brands Are Using Stores As Community Spaces

How Brands Are Using Stores As Community Spaces
Retail

Brands are reimagining brick-and-mortar with community activations that bring people together for live programming and face-to-face interaction

PSFK
  • 25 may 2018

Even as e-commerce corners the market for convenience, brick-and-mortar has an opportunity to differentiate itself with the very quality that distinguishes it from digital. As a result, retailers are using physical spaces as venues for live programming and face-to-face interaction.

PSFK researchers looked at how brands are designing community spaces to bring people together around the halo of a brand and offer new occasions to visit outside of the typical purchase-oriented shopping trip:

Peckham Levels
British developers turned the empty parking garage of an old Sainsbury supermarket in Peckham, London into a multi-level retail and community space called Peckham Levels. They created the space to offer visitors a place to hang out, while also functioning as a designated area for artists to maintain a “home base,” with 50 studios for creators and small businesses. In addition, there are places for gatherings like yoga classes, as well as spaces for larger events.

Not Just Another Store
London concept store Not Just Another Store positions collaboration at its core, forming partnerships with various designers for events, installations and exhibitions. The retail space features art from local artists and a carefully selected homeware and lifestyle department. The company will use the space to enact the future of experiential retail through digital innovation and interactive games. The shop also includes a coffee bar and salad bar offering brunch, lunch, juice and smoothies served by local independent chefs and baristas.

Sports Direct × Game Digital
U.K. sportswear retailer Sports Direct partnered with Game Digital to create spaces for shoppers to play eSports in its stores. Shoppers are charged up to  £7 an hour to play and can book other experiences, such as 10 minutes of virtual reality (for £5) or birthday parties. The partnership deal has plans to open 16 new Belong arenas this year that will be housed within the retail chain stores.

Tsutaya Book Apartment
Japanese book store chain Tsutaya opened its Tokyo location, called the Tsutaya Book Apartment, which is part store, office and hotel, and was designed to encourage visitors to stay overnight. The store’s three floors accommodate relaxation and work activities in an environment centered around books, providing shared and private spaces and amenities at an hourly rate, 24 hours a day. The third floor houses a Starbucks, where visitors can purchase coffee and snacks before going to the fourth floor to check in at reception or shop the books and magazines. The fourth floor coworking areas have desks, sofas and tables. Guests have access to a printer and the store sells a selection of business and stationery supplies. The fifth floor is equipped with lockers, bathrooms and showers for guests who wish to stay longer. Tsutaya offers loungewear rental for guests who want to change into more comfortable clothes.

These examples invite customers to linger, prioritizing environment and interaction over transaction. Event series and added-value experiences help brands build a loyal audience for their space and, by extension, their products. For more insights on this topic, download the PSFK research paper Elevating Brand Experience Through Store Design.


Lead Image: Peckham Levels via Facebook

Even as e-commerce corners the market for convenience, brick-and-mortar has an opportunity to differentiate itself with the very quality that distinguishes it from digital. As a result, retailers are using physical spaces as venues for live programming and face-to-face interaction.

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