In the age of being able to buy products anytime from anywhere on any device, traditional brick-and-mortar retailers are trying to revitalize in-store shopping. Many brands have turned to new and interesting physical interactions with varying levels of success, yet one strategy stands out amongst the rest: Mini-stores, or stores-within-stores. These are small, brand-oriented retail shops located within typical department stores or big-box retailers. Sometimes referred to as “specialty shops,” mini-stores have become quite popular in the past few years, with notable supporters including Best Buy, Macy’s, JCPenney and Apple.
In fact, Best Buy is going all-in on this new retail marketing trend. According to The Motley Fool, the company is doubling-down on mini-store partnerships by working with Apple to sell Apple Watches in brick-and-mortar Best Buy locations. The source explained how well this relationship has turned out for both technology businesses, and primarily, the stores-within-stores model has made Apple products more accessible and Best Buy shopping experiences more interactive and enjoyable. Of course, this isn’t the tech shops first foray into mini-stores, which is a major sign that this strategy works both for Best Buy and for its affiliated brands. Best Buy formed partnerships with Samsung, Sony and mobile phone service carriers in hopes of providing more authentic brand interactions in lieu of the typical Best Buy journey.
Trending: One-Stop Shops
Mini-stores have become a very valuable form of retail marketing in themselves, as they make brands more well-known in areas that wouldn’t normally be reached by typical marketing campaigns. These strategies are so useful that Best Buy is opening its own mini-stores inside Macy’s locations this holiday season, Fortune reported. With that approach, Macy’s acts a one-stop shop and Best Buy’s booth will entice consumers to visit other locations with larger product selections. It’s a win-win situation for both retailers.
“Both companies involved in mini-store strategies will benefit greatly.”
Creating a mini-store is exactly what brands need to rejuvenate sales this holiday season and well beyond, making it a retail marketing trend that retailers and merchants of all sizes and sectors should explore. It will spread the word about products, and by forming strategic partnerships, both companies involved in these mini-store strategies will benefit greatly.
The Best of Both Consumer Groups
Take Valve and GameStop for example. Valve is a video game publisher that owns the popular PC gaming platform Steam, while GameStop (also known as EB Games and GAME UK) is a traditional brick-and-mortar retailer that specializes in video game products. Valve’s customer base rarely sets foot in physical retail stores for games or consoles, and GameStop’s typical shopper isn’t well-acquainted with Valve or Steam.
Enter the Valve-GameStop partnership. According to Wired, Valve will set up mini-stores in GameStop locations around the world in order to sell Steam Machines, new video game consoles aimed at the middle market. This strategy will attract gamers to try the hardware – both people who don’t know who Valve is and those who don’t frequently visit GameStop stores.
What Brands Should Do Next
Simply put, mini-stores will work – they’ll attract customers and help spread a brand’s image and products to diverse markets. But where should retailers start?
First things first, businesses need to pair with similar, yet non-competitive, entities. An overlap in customer goals is all that’s required. In Macy’s and Best Buy’s case, their audience is shoppers looking for gifts, while Valve and GameStop will target video gamers who want more games.
Second, marketing collateral is necessary, and these materials must be consistent with brand images in full-sized shops. Retailers should make it clear that they are interacting with a different company in they’re the store within the store, and the host should advertise that their location is the only place to get the definitive mini-store-specific experience.
Lastly, brands should invest in great people to work in these mini-stores. These individuals will be representing a company’s image, and in that regard, they must understand and have access to all marketing collateral and copy in order to properly convey a consistent message.
Mini-stores are a valuable form of marketing, and how brands handle this trend today could greatly influence their perception in the years to come.
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