7 Stores That Foretell the Future of Retail

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From stores that constantly reinvent themselves to retailers that use facial recognition software, these are bold companies

7 Stores That Foretell the Future of Retail

The future of retail includes ice cream sprinkles and next-day home delivery. The insights come from Jeremy Bowman, who recently compiled a list of seven innovative retailers for the Motley Fool’s website.

  1. Story: Shoppers never know exactly what they’ll encounter at Story, a 2,000-square-foot store in New York City that completely changes its concept — and inventory — every month or two. “Story explains itself as having the point of view of a magazine, changing like a gallery and selling things like a store,” Bowman writes.
  2. Museum of Ice Cream: It’s not really a museum and not really a store, either. But the Museum of Ice Cream in Manhattan is an experience — with lots of interactive features, including “an ice cream swing, pool of sprinkles and a seesaw made of an ice cream scoop,” Bowman says. It does sell ice cream, too — after shoppers pay a $38 admission fee.
  3. Bonobos: This is one of those retailers that made its name selling online. Headquartered in New York City, the menswear retailer now is “opening ‘guideshops’ across the country,” Bowman says. “They’re clothing stores with a twist. Though Bonobos has plenty of suits and shirts and other gear for men to try on, there are no clothes for sale. The shops help you find the perfect fit and then send you the clothes the next day straight to your home.”
  4. Warby Parker: This New York City-based eyewear brand also started online before opening storefronts. “Rather than providing a clinical experience like a visit to the doctor or optometrist, Warby Parker stores are hip and interactive with youthful sales associates and glasses organized on shelves where customers can try on glasses at their own pace,” Bowman says.
  5. Lolli & Pops: This San Francisco-based chain of sweets shops focuses on customer service, including tucking personalized notes into gifts — and using facial recognition technology to strengthen relationships. Bowman says founder Sid Gupta sees Lolli & Pops “stores acting as curators, enabling discovery and a new experience for the customers.”
  6. Everlane: The omnichannel clothing retailer, with headquarters in San Francisco, “bills itself as radically transparent as it carefully researches and audits its factories to evaluate them on factors like fair wages and environmental responsibility,” Bowman says. “Shoppers, for instance, can see how much the materials and labor used to make their clothes cost.”
  7. Allbirds: This San Francisco-based omnichannel shoe merchant combines fashion-forward merchandise with a social consciousness. It favors materials like eucalyptus fiber and merino wool for its unisex shoes, “leaning into the inclusivity trend and making production and sales easier,” Bowman writes.

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