Bloomingdale’s Updates Its ‘Retail As Theater’ Legacy For Modern Shoppers With Rotating Experiential Pop-Ups
In a move to bring excitement and 'cultural relevance' to its stores, the retailer launched 'Carousel' pop-ups in select locations that let consumers experience the fast-fashion turnover, or streetwear 'drop' concept, within a traditional department store setting
However, in recent years, department stores have suffered setbacks and market share losses amid competition from off-price merchants, fast-fashion chains and online retailers, and Bloomingdale’s is no exception.
As traditional retailers rethink their merchandising and consumer-experience strategies, Bloomingdale’s has bowed Carousel, a pop-up shop that offers consumers the fast-fashion turnover, or streetwear “drop” concept, within the traditional department store business model. The retailer says the shops aim to tell “culturally relevant stories,” signaling a play for younger shoppers.
Located inside select locations around the U.S., these theme-based pop-up shops will change assortment every two months. The idea is to give customers the opportunity to immerse themselves in an exclusive experience as well as introduce them to brands and products that they might be unfamiliar with.
The first carousel launched on September 6, in partnership with TRX, maker of fitness equipment and training apps, based on the theme Urban Explorer, targeting an adventurous customer. Curated by New York City-based style expert Eugene Tong (pictured), the product assortment features high-end street wear, TRX merchandise, travel accessories and a variety of other theme-related products. The next Carousel will launch in November 2018, with a holiday theme called, “Past Made Present.”
CEO: ‘Healthy Brick And Mortar’ Demands ‘Experiences’
For Bloomingdale’s parent Macy’s, engaging shoppers’ senses in store is table stakes today and a retail imperative, said Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette, at Goldman Sachs’ retailing conference this month. “When you think about healthy brick-and-mortar, you really have to talk about experience, because [the] store is no longer the place where a customer just transacts… you have to have a better experience,” he said.
Carousel will be positioned in a dedicated area of each store, and easily be distinguishable through signage. When customers enter the pop-up shop the designated theme will be apparent in the merchandise, the music assortment and interactive or AR opportunities, such as TRX’s current body-scan machine. For this machine, customers are instructed to do several squats to produce a full body scan, which will be used to promote flexibility, mobility and performance endurance results.
With the carousel format, Bloomingdale’s, like parent company Macy’s pop-up marketplace, the Market, is “repurposing and carving out spaces to create a sense of community,” said Melissa Gonzales, founder of The Lionesque Group, a firm of retail strategist and pop-up shop architects that counts Brandless and Coty among its clients, during the Retail Influencer Network Panel on new store formats attended by PSFK this month.
With Carousel, Bloomingdales’ intention is to stimulate consumers’ interest in new merchandise to draw them into the store, while introducing an immersive element into its shopping experience that allows customers to interact with products in way that they can’t, as of yet, online.