Check out these 5 immersive retail spaces


July 11, 2023 | By Rupkatha B

Check out these 5 immersive retail spaces

There is a common thread connecting the world’s earliest department stores from the 19th century and the first digital stores in the metaverse from the 21st century. These are created with an aim to inspire, immerse and engage shoppers.

From enabling shoppers to touch and feel myriad materials, textures and products to experiencing tech-driven features such as artificial intelligence-based skin & hair analysis, today brick-and-mortar stores aren’t just places to shop at. These are spaces built to enthrall shoppers in more ways than one, often evoking a rollercoaster of emotions through engaging narratives and cutting-edge services to create lasting memories.

Post-pandemic, the retail industry had to think of new ways to safely bring consumers back to the in-store environment. This required an integration of social and digital trends in the physical environment. While digitally enabled in-store features existed even before the pandemic it became non-negotiable post-2020.

Here’s a look at 5 immersive retail spaces in the GCC.

Click it, try it, buy it: 6thStreet.com

Spanning 7,535 sqft the 6thStreet.com phygital store in UAE’s Dubai Hills Mall is unlike a traditional brick-and-mortar store that displays physical products on the shopfloor. The 6thStreet.com phygital store is built with 38 tablets enabling customers to browse thousands of products just like any online store. Once the items are added to a trial bag, shoppers are guided to one of the seven smart fitting rooms. As soon as they enter the fitting room, they can find their selected items in the trial closet which can be shopped through the brand’s advanced POS systems. In addition, there are fashion advisors to guide shoppers on their shopping journey. Other features include an immersive fragrance display wall, three large LED screens for promotional videos and a seating area to try on footwear. Around 80% of the store space is allocated to the back-end where inventory is stored and 20% to the front-end where customers shop.

Float away: Nayomi

Kamal Osman Jamjoom Group’s lingerie brand Nayomi’s ‘Floating Palace’ concept is a contemporary and elegant environment inspired by a palace-like architecture. A space that balances sensitive nuances and deep-rooted traditions of the region while respectfully empowering and celebrating femininity. A palace-like structure suspended within the store under mirrored ceiling panels, enhanced using handcrafted chandeliers creates an illusion as if the store is floating. Curved reveals within the paneling create openings for windows, product displays and visual merchandising opportunities. Ambient digital windows with subtle moving content create an immersive backdrop offering a soft, feminine introduction to Nayomi. In addition, ‘The Parlour Lounge & Customisation Service’ is a dedicated area for customers to browse latest collections through digital screens and access the monogramming personalisation service. Nayomi recently launched its ‘Pyjama Wardrobe’ concept offering a large, curated collection of pyjamas including limited-edition and runway-inspired designs, selling a pair of pyjamas every minute. To further enhance the PJ Wardrobe concept Nayomi launched a new Web AR experience called ‘The Pajama Wardrobe game’ offering customers a unique and interactive way to engage with the store. By scanning a QR code customers can access the AR game wherein they are transported to the store and challenged to find as many pajamas as they can in 30 seconds and get a chance to win a Nayomi limited-edition pajama. It is an innovative way to engage with customers and gather valuable data.

Tech meets experience: THAT Concept Store

Spanning 4,600 sqm (approximately 49,514 sqft) THAT Concept Store located at Mall of the Emirates is a distinctive concept which offers customers an individualised journey across an immersive in-store space, including a beauty hub for women and a grooming station for men, an art & culture space, a Japanese restaurant and a private shopping service. The space offers a curated collection of international and regional brands from established and emerging designers. The retail space has been designed in a modular way to accommodate brand collaboration, pop-ups and exclusive series of activations all of which spotlight THAT Concept Store’s unique mix of both international and regional labels. Mall of the Emirates collaborated with CISCO to launch the ‘Store of the Future’ with THAT Concept Store becoming the first retailer to take over the cutting-edge space. The technology features included a Digital Display Canvas, Lift & Learn, Magic Mirror, Beauty Mirror and Store Analytics. The Digital Display welcomes customers into the store and creates an immersive atmosphere with the help of artificial intelligence and computer vision. The Magic Mirror helps customers browse a variety of products which are available online through an embedded digital and interactive touch display. Additionally, the Beauty Mirror limits the physical contact aspect of discovering beauty products and makeup by helping customers try them through augmented reality and interactive touch. The store’s advanced technology also leverages wireless infrastructure location service analytics and intelligent cloud-based ceiling cameras to provide consumer behaviour insights and analytics.

Celebrating sisterhood: Isla & Evie

Abu Dhabi based LIWA Trading Enterpises’ homegrown lingerie brandIsla & Evie stores are designed as a reflection of the collections, representing the best in contemporary design with a nod to fashion’s greatest moments – 80s neon sits next to French baroque inspired paneling from the turn of the century’s great couture houses of Paris. Aligned with the brand ethos every aspect is designed to enhance the product offering and elongate browsing time. The stores are designed as a safe space where customers can shop with friends in comfort. Fitting rooms – with discreet modern paneled doors, soft curtains and upholstery for that extra comfort – are located next to the cash desk for a seamless transactional journey. Digital screens and neon signage throughout the store design add great energy to the space while offering in-depth product information. The introduction of digital tablets into the Isla & Evie stores has enabled the brand to make its offerings available to offline customers by linking products through The Fashionnet.ae platform. This has effectively doubled product availability while linking Isla & Evie stores to LIWA’s USRA rewards programme so that customers can preview collections, be the first to hear about new offers and promotions as well as collect points to be availed against discounts.

A personalised approach to skincare: FACES

Luxury retailer Chalhoub Group’s homegrown brand FACES specialises in fragrance, beauty and makeup offering a wide range of branded products and exceptional customer service. All FACES stores are thoughtfully organised with carefully zoned sections ensuring customers can easily navigate and enjoy their journey. The central spaces and corridors are wide, making it easy for customers to browse and interact with Beauty Experts at FACES. The lighting in FACES stores is also carefully planned to create a warm and inviting ambiance. For example, a key feature is the 3-ring chandelier located in the middle of the fragrance rotunda, a semi-circular space dedicated to the art of fragrance. FACES uses visual merchandising tools to showcase products in an attractive and eye-catching manner. The displays are designed to highlight key features and benefits of each product to guide customers in their shopping journey. FACES also uses digital screens in facades and interior spaces to enhance and animate the stores, incorporating interactive iPads in certain units that further improve the customer experience and discovery while making the store attractive.

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