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From the Editor

From the Editor: Rethink Retail

Retailers are taking a page from fashion collabs to leverage their own co-branding concepts.




BRAND COLLABORATIONS AND exclusive drops have been de rigueur in the fashion and footwear industries for more than a decade, tempting consumers with mashups of their favorite artists and brands for mutual gain. Not only does co-branding heighten brand awareness, it allows brands to reach audiences they might not have otherwise been exposed to and organically grow their business while sharing experience and resources.

In recent history, few have leveraged this strategy with the same success of Story, Rachel Schectman’s innovative concept that first opened on Manhattan’s 10th Avenue in 2011. Based on themes, or stories, that changed regularly along with the merchandise sold, Schectman opened the retail world’s eyes to the notion that physical stores are to be experienced, rather than merely transactional spaces. Over the years, Story collaborated with brand sponsors ranging from Benjamin Moore (one of the first) to Pepsi and Nickelodeon.

Since those early days of retailer collabs, we’ve seen a number of efforts, with varying degrees of success, come and go – Walgreen’s and Birchbox, Target and Casper, JCPenney and Sephora, and Dick’s Sporting Goods and Macy’s to name a few. Most recently Kohl’s, which has also leveraged successful partnerships with Amazon, Planet Fitness and Aldi, announced it would partner with outerwear brand Eddie Bauer to bring select outdoor gear into as many as 500 of its stores. Kohl’s Chief Merchandising Officer Doug Howe explained that the move, which will expand Kohl’s activewear offering, is part of an effort to attract younger customers to the banner.

So what’s the recipe for a successful retailer collaboration? First, according to management consulting firm Customer Communications Group Inc. (Lakewood, Colo.), define your goals, whether that’s new customer acquisition or dipping a toe into new markets. Articulate what you hope to accomplish. Next, says CCG, seek out brands aligned with your own culture and mission. Identify where your customer base overlaps and where there is mutual opportunity. Then, do the same for your products and services. Finally, says CCG, map out every aspect of the partnership clearly.

Be part of the discussion around retail partnerships and other innovative strategies brands are creating to rethink retail at VMSD’s 21st annual International Retail Design Conference (IRDC), Sept. 21-22, at the Sheraton Denver Downtown. Visit for more information.


Jennifer Acevedo is the editor-in-chief and associate publisher of VMSD magazine.



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