United Colors of Benetton's London flagship on Oxford Street marks a significant change of pace for the Italian fashion brand.
The retailer has incorporated informal, hi-tech spaces into the three-storey space, as well as a knitwear theatre which it claims will offer 'an ultimate brand experience that goes beyond the traditional idea of a shop'.
“As the world of retail is rapidly changing, the design brief specifically tackles how consumer habits are adjusting, while digital shopping is increasing exponentially, and at the same time physical experience is proving a key factor to a successful retail format, that cannot be left out,” says Michele Trevisan, global head of retail design at Benetton. “When we started the project, the brief was not just to do another flagship store; the idea was to create a brand amplifier, a place where the customers can become users of the brand’s philosophy, not just simple consumers. Therefore, we decided to use three drivers for the project: attract, explore and inspire.”
On the exterior, an arched counter-facade invites passersby to enter and dream. While the 12m-high arches recall classical architecture, the LED screen cladding will showcase interactive content curated by Fabrica, playing with colour textures, images and illustrations.
Once inside, shoppers are encouraged to explore the space around them. The store has been designed entirely by Benetton's retail design department and furnished with natural materials such as wood, iron and stone.
United Colors of Benetton is an Italian company with more than 50 years of history, and this was the real starting point of the project.
Customers will be able to move fluidly across the three levels – dedicated to men's, women's and children's collections – thanks to a 'loop' staircase that extends like a ribbon across the shop floors and leads to a series of scattered stations that replace traditional checkouts.
Technology is also key to the customer experience. Inside the store, two digital applications were created with the intention to simplify the customer’s activity reducing the waste of time. The first one is the mobile payment system that, thanks to the use of Retail Pro POS on WiFi tablets, allows an exclusive payment via mobile and card only, potentially everywhere in the store, reducing the time spent in a queue.
The second one is represented by three digital interactive tables showcasing content on selected products, on the Benetton brand initiatives and, thanks to the use of an integrated RFID antenna, they release technical information about the products that are placed on the tabletop.