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Innovación: New concept makes it easier for online retailers to get physical

One of the nation’s leading mall owners and developers is looking to give emerging e-commerce brands a jump-start on entering brick-and-mortar retail.

Macerich announced the launch of BrandBox, a format that offers a turnkey approach for digitally native brands to open and operate stores. The first BrandBox will open Nov. 17 at Tysons Corner Center, in Tysons, Va. It will house six brands — Winky Lux, Naadam, Interior Define, Nectar Sleep, DKNY and UrbanStems — with each company having its own mini shop, ranging from 500 sq. ft. to 2,500 sq. ft. each, within the overall space. Leases will run six to 12 months.

Additional BrandBox rollouts across the Macerich portfolio will begin in 2019 at properties including Fashion District Philadelphia, Santa Monica Place, Scottsdale Fashion Square, The Shops at North Bridge, The Village at Corte Madera and Washington Square. The footprint of the initial BrandBox location at Tysons Corner Center will double by summer 2019.

Each shop in Brandbox comes prefabricated with plug-and-play technology and utility including including WiFi, retail analytics (pre-wired to support all major POS systems), security tags and cameras, storage for inventory, and a breakroom. The spaces have modular walls and tracking that can be re-positioned for a new store configuration. Similarly, the lighting and fixtures can be swapped out. Store designs will be tailored to each brand.

In addition, the participating BrandBox retailers will have access to a proprietary retail analytics dashboard to measure in-store sales and customer engagement as they would in the digital world by analyzing data including anonymized foot traffic, conversion, customer flows, and sales, according to Macerich. They will be able to measure a lift in local e-commerce traffic resulting from opening a store with BrandBox.

“Our extensive research and direct experience with top digitally native brands has helped us to understand how essential offline retail is to their future growth and success,” said Kevin McKenzie, executive VP and chief digital officer, Macerich, which owns 52 million square feet of real estate consisting primarily of interests in 48 regional shopping centers. “With BrandBox, we’re excited to formalize our commitment to these smart up-and-coming brands, and be a true partner, every step of the way, as they expand their footprint beyond the digital world.”

Other malls are also piloting projects to attract new and emerging brands. A new concept called Fourpost just opened up shop at Mall of America and West Edmonton Mall. (Fourpost was founded by Mark Ghermezian, whose family’s Triple Five Group operates both malls.) Fourpost’s retail model will include a collection of “studio shops” and eateries designed to connect local businesses, digital natives and other emerging brands with shoppers. The New York City-based company expects to open several additional locations in 2019 across the nation.

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