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Retail INTERVIEW

Showfields reflects on its first year evolving retail

By Robyn Turk

Feb 7, 2020

New York City-based retail concept Showfields recently celebrated its first year in business, offering a unique retail model that has effectively met the needs of both consumers and digitally-native brands. Occupying a 14,000 square-foot space across four stories in Manhattan’s Noho area, Showfields houses pop-ups for more than 50 brands at a time. Its roster of fashion, beauty, home, lifestyle and tech brands evolves on a roughly seasonal basis, allowing the space to completely transform to a new experience for shoppers and visitors.

Showfields is one of the many new retailers demonstrating that brick-and-mortar isn’t dead; it simply must adapt to new consumer interests.

“Retail is in a place right now where it’s constantly evolving,” Showfields CEO and co-founder Tal Zvi Nathanel told FashionUnited. “We’re in a landscape where new brands are always being created, but traditional stores typically only give consumers access to brands they’re already familiar with, in the same store format they’re used to. Younger customers are looking for new forms of retail tired and that’s where Showfields comes in.”

The company’s business model allows brands without previous brick-and-mortar retail experience to engage directly with consumers, under the marketing and merchandising guidance of Showfields. Brand partners have experienced impressive results from retailing through Showfields, such as increasing sales by over 50 percent and growing brand recognition among new demographics of consumer. The platform allows brands in various stages of development to discover new retail opportunities, test physical retail before launching a proprietary location or expand their reach.

“Our biggest accomplishment of 2019 has truly been solving the pain point of discovery in retail,” Nathanel continued. “Providing an opportunity for brands to connect with consumers in ways they never have before and giving consumers the chance to finally discover new brands is what Showfields is all about. Our goal is to be the platform meeting the retail needs of brands and consumers alike, and we can truly say we’ve done that at Showfields.”

Showfields taps into C-Commerce to focus on the consumer

Nathanel explained that younger consumers are tired of traditional brick-and-mortar stores and want “more” from retailers. “This ‘more’ is what we believe the future of retail is - something we call C-Commerce or Consumer Commerce, which is a world built entirely for the consumer by the consumer,” he said.

A consumer-first retail experience is not an entirely new concept. Existing retailers have been transforming their stores to stay competitive in a market driven by consumers who want “more.” Nike debuted its House of Innovation on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue in 2018, bringing together digital integration, customization and exhibition into a 68,000 square-foot space to demonstrate that physical retail succeeds when shoppers have incentive to visit a store. Macy’s followed a similar discovery-first strategy by launching Story By Macy’s in 36 stores nationwide, which entails curated shops within the main department store with merchandise following a particular narrative.

“The five principles of C-Commerce are community, content, convenience, curation and connection,” Nathanel explained. “While we have touched on a few of these, such as convenience and curation, I think the more challenging on the list are community and content.

“The way that Showfields is addressing these areas is to become a stage for the most interesting artists, brands, movements and creators. We are not the most interesting store in the world because we are interesting, we are the most interesting store because we have built a stage and a home for those that are. In a world where you are truly a white box that can morph and change to bring anything to life your only job is to listen to your customer. It’s one of the reasons we close for four days every six months and open as an entirely new store. It’s incredibly challenging every time, yet it pushes us to never rest on the success of anything we have done before.”

Image: courtesy of Showfields