Inside Retail has revealed its 20 coolest retailers for 2019, with unique customer experiences, stunning store fit-outs and social conscience among the factors helping these innovative shopfronts truly stand out from the crowd.
Here’s an insight into just some of the retailers who made the prestigious list and what they’re doing differently…
What makes a retailer cool?
Compiled by Inside Retail with the assistance of industry experts Matt Newell and Danny Lattouf from The General Store, the 20 Coolest Retailers list is a celebration of standout performers in the Australian retail sector.
Inside Retail editor Jo-Anne Hui-Miller explained criteria to make the cut included offering “something fun, fresh and different and a great retail experience either online, offline or both”.
“And it needed to have a loyal community of not just customers, but fans. We looked at both large and small retailers in a wide range of different categories, from food and fashion to beauty and sport,” she explained.
Meanwhile, Mr Newell called the list a celebration of the art of retail.
“There is always room for one retailer to be the cheapest, for everyone else there is creativity – the brands who can stitch together inspiring experiences with enough X-Factor to get customers shopping with their hearts, instead of their heads,” he noted.
Who made the grade?
The 20 Coolest Retailers list reads like a veritable who’s who of innovators in the sector. It includes retailers large and small, across the whole gamut of verticals.
Those named in the top 20 were: Aesop, Camilla, Gelato Messina, GlamCorner, The Grounds, Harris Farm, HoMie, Koala, Mecca, Outland Denim, P.E Nation, Sneakerboy, T2, The Daily Edited, The Iconic, Ultra Football, Vinomofo, Winning, Zambrero, and Zimmermann.
In addition to the top 20, Adore Beauty, Bared, Brosa, Champagne Dame, and Citizen Wolf were also named retailers to watch.
So, what makes some of them so special?
Mecca – Creating raving fans
Beauty-retailer Mecca thrives on offering unique in-store experiences and customer-engaging events.
In its bricks and mortar outlets, around 30 per cent of Mecca’s store space is dedicated to interactive experiences, which range from 15-minute ‘flash’ beauty applications to areas that allow customers to experiment with products.
“In this new world, for customers to come in-store, it has to feel like they’re walking into something really interesting and fun. They need to feel like they’re getting something out of it that they can’t when they just go online,” Mecca founder Jo Horgan told Inside Retail.
Earlier this year, Mecca also hosted a major customer engagement event. Known as Meccaland, it was a festival of beauty that spanned three days, attracted 15,000 attendees and featured entertainment along with large-scale beauty masterclasses.
Ultra Football – A destination retailer
Located in a warehouse in Sydney, Ultra Football is another retailer who takes the customer experience to the next level. Focussed purely on premium soccer products, the store features a full-sized indoor pitch, sports lounge, customisation zone, in-house barber and Italian restaurant.
“The idea of turning stores into ‘experience centres’ isn’t new,” Inside Retail reflects.
“Many retailers are doing this to compete with the likes of Amazon, but few have gone as far as Ultra. When the store opened in January 2018, it had several Matildas players on staff.”
Now, they’re looking to take the concept interstate, while at the same time evolving with their consumer.
HoMie – Retail with a conscience
Launched in 2015, HoMie is establishing a cult-like following based on its edgy streetwear designs, but it’s the retailer’s commitment to a social cause that sees it resonate deeply with consumers.
Initially founded to raise funds for young people living on the streets, HoMie dedicates 100 per cent of its profits to funding social-impact programs.
These include VIP shopping days where the store closes once a month to provide new HoMie clothing, haircuts, beauty services, and lunch to homeless youth.
In addition, HoMie offers select individuals six-month paid internships in a bid to give them on the job experience and skills.