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In the day and age where we all feel uncertain about the future of retail, brands that go against the grain are proving there is still a route for success. The truth is, adapt or die. Our current landscape continues to evolve into an automated digital marketplace. According to Business Insider, a report stated an estimated 75,000 will close across North America by 2026.

So what does it take to survive? Brands like DRNKS prove that there is still a demand for the brick and mortar framework and we believe this comes down to the trend that niche is the new mainstream. This movement is already seen across music and media. A similar movement can be seen with the rise of pop ups, retail concepts like Meccaland, and innovative retail strategies. There is no singular solution to the retail crisis but rather the need to truly understand what it is that your audience is looking for… and knowing how to give it to them! 


H&M owned minimalist clothing brand Cos invests in stunning, culturally rich retail locations. Aligned with their mission for clothing, Cos is a brand that connects with men and women who want modern, functional, considered designs. 

Launching in 2007, Cos embarked on a mission to create collections that outlast the seasons, producing timeless pieces. This can be seen in the way they create their infrastructure. With everything they do, Cos looks to tell a story that is minimal, transparent, and outlasts time. You can even explore the stories and thoughtfulness behind each of their buildings on their website. Cos has already repurposed a French hospital, an old theatre in Downtown LA, and even the heritage CommonWealth Bank of Australia in Martin Place, Sydney.  



Patagonia has continued to stay authentic, navigating different terrain in the retail market. They invest in what they believe in and take the utmost care when creating experiences that align with what their customers believe in. 

Patagonia boast an elaborate mission statement and it’s clear to see all of their work is in alignment with their values. They’ve continued to refine their production techniques and share their material and information technology transparently

“Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, and use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”

This mission is reinforced in everything they do, at every touchpoint, including their retail stores. Each Patagonia store is designed based on the history of the locations. Like their store located on West 14th Street, NYC, Patagonia recycle materials from their surrounding culture to repurpose and incorporate into their retail design. The company even has documented building principles discussing their requirements for location, impact, materials and waste. 


Tiffany & Co

Tiffany & Co are known to invest in brick & mortar outlets, including the utilisation of pop ups. The American jewellery maker has always been known for it’s elite status in the market of mainstream jewellery and their extravagant retail locations amplify this message. Just take their Sydney flagship that opened in May this year as an example. Although the fitout is luxurious and polished, Tiffany & Co are beyond conventional. It shows in the juxtaposition of their designer perfume stocking a branded vending machine as a part of their Melbourne pop up which took place for the Christmas season of 2018. 

CFO Mark Erceg expressed “we finished 2018 with 7% of our global revenue coming online. But when you are buying a $20,000 bracelet, people really want to see it in person.” The company is investing in marketing that drives visitors into their stores, including a renovated flagship in NYC due to open in 2021.



Nike is a brand that understands its customers. They’re continuously innovating to find new ways to inspire and engage their audience. Not only does the company produce game-changing concepts but they’ve also used gamification to engage consumers and develop brand loyalty. This was a part of the launch of their Nike+ app. 

Innovation for Nike goes beyond digital. Tech has become a regular tool for the company to enhance their in store experience. According to Business Insider, Nike is continuing to invent new ways to combine digital and retail, and that it will “fundamentally” shift the entire company. The future for Nike looks like digitally charged experiences that engage their consumers in completely unique ways. This can be seen in their “by Melrose” store which is the first Nike Live store where their inventory is completely curated by data collected from the local area and the customers using Nike’s online services. The concept also showcases unique features like exclusive Nike Express bookings and a sneaker bar. 

The company are looking to adapt the Nike Live stores as customers present more data and foresee the concepts tested at the Melrose store to be incorporated in other retail designs.  



We all know Ikea for their great $1 hotdogs, detailed showrooms, and the unavoidable time warp we all get lost in on a “quick trip”. What should be noted is the great strides the Swedish furniture manufacturer has been taking in recent years. From the beginning, Ikea was on a mission to disrupt the market with innovation.  

Ikea has reshaped the furniture market with so many aspects of its business model including the set up of their showroom, format for delivery, customer service structure, and beyond that it’s campaign initiatives. Ikea continues to produce thoughtful campaigns online and offline that work as an ecosystem, continuing to grow their retail figures, including The Dining Club, This Ables product campaign, and the buy back initiative



Tesla’s retail strategy has previously been met with skepticism however, Founder and CEO Elon Musk believes it plays a key role in the company’s growth. According to LA Times, Musk said on a call, “a retail location is kind of like a viral seed in an area. It would grow organically by itself, but the retail location is actually like a viral seed. They aren’t needed; they’re like an accelerant.”

In February 2019, the car manufacturer claimed it was going to shut all retail stores and move sales to be online only. Just a month later, the company made a major u-turn keeping half its showrooms open and increasing prices by 3%. The stores that have remained open have also been modified to operate more as showrooms with smaller teams. 

The future of Tesla’s retail stores appears uncertain but with it’s unconventional business model, it’s definitely a strategy to watch and learn from. 

What we can see across these brand examples is that each is continuously moving to understand the needs of their customers and provide them an experience that is like no other.