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John Ryan

Why Shop-in-Shops are a Good Idea

The positives considerably outweigh the negatives.




I’VE BEEN ON TWITTER since 2009 and LinkedIn since 2014 (I think), but the last week has been the high point for me on either platform from this correspondent’s perspective. Last Monday, I posted a picture of a good-looking shop-in-shop by U.K. department store John Lewis in a branch of its sister organization Waitrose, an upscale grocer.

The outcome, in just a week, has been around 250 “likes” and more than a few comments, all of them positive. Why has this Twitter post fared so well, when set against other projects that appeared just as interesting? The answer, perhaps, is that it’s about a shop-in-shop, something that chimes with the times for almost every physical retailer currently.

Or put another way, what is the benefit of putting a pared-down version of a retail proposition within the walls of a host retailer? On its face, you might think that you’d be better off with a standalone store that would allow your shop to beam its very obvious attractions to every passerby. Perhaps, but look at it this way: If the retailer you choose to get into bed with is in a location where units are either expensive or where you’re not sure that you’d really want to open a store, then piggybacking on the success of another seems like a good idea.

Equally, if you’re the host retailer, then having a non-competing enterprise in your store, working on the assumption that you have space, makes sense as it means that you are, in effect, a destination. In this manner, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Everybody’s happy.

Shop-in-shops are looking like a big number at the moment and the positives considerably outweigh the negatives in most instances. Before you rush ahead and open another branch, therefore, think about whether you might just want to team up with somebody else.


John Ryan is a journalist covering the retail sector, a role he has fulfilled for more than a decade. As well as being the European Editor of VMSD magazine, he writes for a broad range of publications in the U.K., the U.S. and Germany with a focus on in-store marketing, display and layout, as well as the business of store architecture and design. In a previous life, he was a buyer for C&A, based in London and then Düsseldorf, Germany. He lives and works in London.



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