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Brookstone to debut new store concept—with a nod to tech inventors
BY MARIANNE WILSON
Originally published in Chain Store Age, April 11th 2018
Brookstone is launching a new retail platform that gives tech brands and emerging product makers in the space easier access to stores in U.S. malls. And the retailer is using its existing store base as the launch pad.
The retailer will unveil its first Brookstone Makers Showcase store on April 21, at Roosevelt Field Mall, Garden City, New York. The 4,236-sq.-ft. pilot location — a converted Brookstone site — will put a spotlight on products from online collaborative invention platform Quirky and crowdfunding website Indiegogo, as well as new tech brands from around the world. It will also feature a selection of the best-selling products at Brookstone.
“It’s the best of three worlds,” said Paul Donovan, creative director/copy, Brookstone, which in 2014 was sold to Sanpower Group Company, a Chinese conglomerate whose primary businesses are engaged in technology and modern service industries.
The retailer plans to open at least 10 Makers Showcase stores this year. All will be remodels of existing Brookstone locations.
“We may have some variations on the theme and category,” Donovan said.
Brookstone said the Makers Showcase concept will help emerging products makers and brands sell products in A-level malls at low-cost structures that are competitive to selling through online marketplaces. The business model will offer flexible options for the makers and new brands that include display margin and consignment models.
“We will work out arrangements with each organization that are the most cost effective,” Donovan said.
Makers Showcase is designed to give customers a hands-on experiences with new products. It will feature a dedicated product demonstration stage, and a sound-dampened “Voice Box” room where customers can try out such voice-centered innovations as Zolo voice-activated speakers.
In addition, the store will host frequent “Meet-the-Maker” events during peak traffic periods where product makers can interact with customers.
“We’re bringing more than 50 years of retailing expertise to new makers,” stated Tom Connolly, VP of operations. “We’ve helped launch brands such as Tempur-Pedic, Parrot, iRobot and Segway. Getting people to experience new technologies and have fun is in our DNA.”
The format will combine advanced store traffic analytics with feedback from and reporting from in-store customer interactions to help makers quickly gain insights into their products. The smart store analytics platform, from RetailNext, will analyze customer traffic patterns, dwell time and conversion rates.
“Comprehensive shopper data allows both Brookstone and its makers’ brands the ability to measure shopper engagement and utilize those metrics to take continuous improvement actions on everything from merchandising to ongoing product development,” said Alexei Agratchev, co-founder and CEO, RetailNext.
Brookstone will also host a series of “innovation competitions” at universities in which makers can present their products to industry experts. Winners’ products may be featured in Brookstone stores worldwide.
“Makers often experience sticker shock when trying to sell their products through brick-and-mortar retailers,” said Nick Vyas, founder and executive director at the Center for Global Supply Chain Management at the USC Marshall School of Business. “Selling through traditional retailer agreements quickly eats into their margin. Profits go down. Prices go up. What the Brookstone PLUS platform does is create an efficient platform that lets makers sell in A-level malls with flexible, lower-cost structures that are competitive to selling through online marketplaces.”
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