H&M Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York
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Enhancing In-Store Experience with Curated, Rotating Products and RFID Tech

Elizabeth Christenson
Editor, Retail Leader Pro
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Pro Tip: Experiential retail isn’t a new concept, but many major brands are finally figuring out how to work immersive stores into their fleet. H&M’s new location in Brooklyn, New York, follows the model so brilliantly started by Story during the last decade. Retail storytelling is sector agnostic, but helps to build excitement amongst consumers who come to visit and browse. While these efforts might be seen as loss leaders, telling a brand’s narrative in creative ways has lasting impacts on consumers.

Last month, H&M opened a tech-focused, community-based store experience in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. Featuring a rotating assortment of fashion, the new concept is currently slated for a year-long run.

The in-store design pays homage to the iconic neighborhood, and showcases a curated collection of the brand’s top styles rotating every four to 12 weeks. The retail tech component includes expansive RFID use across the more than 7,000-square-foot store experience.

H&M Williamsburg
H&M's new format aims to be a destination for shoppers to explore style in the trendy Williamsburg setting of Brooklyn, New York.

We’re constantly trying to engage and reach our customers in new and exciting ways, and this new space shows how we’re moving forward with a customer-centric vs. product-centric mindset,” Linda Li, H&M Americas’ head of customer activation and marketing, told Retail Leader Pro.

The experimental H&M store is part of Stockholm, Sweden- based H&M Group, which owns several brands — including its namesake H&M, Cos, Arket, Weekday and Monki — and operates in 77 markets with its U.S. offices in New York. Last week, the retailer announced plans to cut around 1,500 jobs as part of its broader efforts to reduce costs. Included in those efforts, H&M would test charging customers to return purchased items. H&M’s net sales (in Swedish krona) grew 13% year over year in the first nine months of its fiscal year (Dec. 1, 2021 to Aug. 31, 2022). In local currencies, the increase was 8%. 

H&M’s latest results were largely impacted by the closure of stores in Russia, and the retailer’s store count has gone from operating more than 4,856 stores globally in Aug. 2021 to 4,664 stores Aug. 2022. In North and South America similar declines were seen with the retailer’s store count dropping from 754 stores in Aug. 2021 to 733 in Aug. 2022.

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