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Industry News

Small showrooms help retailers reach more customers

Smaller stores don’t work for all retailers, but a subset of companies is finding success with stripped-down, low-inventory “showrooms” that allow customers to test products and order them for home delivery.

Showrooms are more likely to influence consumer purchasing than retail aided by artificial intelligence, in a pop-up setting or with a self-check-out function, according to a report in the New York Times. Research firm WP Partners says more than half of Millennials it has surveyed in recent years said that visiting showrooms could compel them to make a purchase. The firm said the share of older shoppers who said this surged to 57 percent this year from 22 percent in 2015.

Anthropologie, Nordstrom and Urban Outfitters are among the retailers exploring the strategy. The positives are lower overhead, more engaged staff, and customer convenience, but the small quarters may eliminate the anonymity some younger buyers enjoy on the Internet, experts say.

And landlords are taking notice. China-based Lesso Group, for example, bought the Source mall in Westbury, N.Y., for $92 million and plans to spend $25 million converting it into a collection of showrooms for home furnishings brands. It wants to open similar properties in Texas and California, the Times reports.

By Brannon Boswell

Managing Editor/SCT

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