In-store t-shirt making with YR Studio at Story | Source: Courtesy
In-store t-shirt making with YR Studio at Story | Source: Courtesy

LONDON, United Kingdom — A fourth generation New York retailer, Rachel Shechtman grew up with “retail in her blood.” However, it wasn’t until her teen years, when she attended one of Donna Karan’s now legendary 7th Avenue sales benefitting HIV and AIDS charities, that Shechtman first comprehended how retail could be the foundation for authentic and valuable experiences. “Something stuck from that day forward that was about commerce being part of the conversation, but not the only part,” Shechtman, now the founder of Story and brand experience officer at Macy’s, told BoF.

Founded in 2011, New York concept store Story offers experiential takeovers of its retail space. A standard four-to-eight-week sponsorship now costs between $600,000 and $1 million during the holiday period — almost double the fees from two years ago. In 2015, American Express Open became the first company to sign an annual partnership with Story, costing the financial services corporation $750,000. In May 2018, Macy’s announced its acquisition of Story and Shechtman’s appointment as brand experience officer, reporting directly to Macy’s president Hal Lawton.

Rachel Shechtman | Source: Courtesy

BoF sat down with Shechtman to hear her insights on the rise of community retail and how to connect with multitasking consumers, who are increasingly more difficult to satiate.

Why has the retail industry been so slow to innovate?

It’s less about companies being slow to innovate and more about companies figuring out how their operation can work at a different, more nimble pace. The ideas and concepts are there — and coming fast and furious — but for real change it needs to come from the inside out. When you’re talking about multi-billion-dollar companies with hundreds of doors, the moves that will be long-lasting and meaningful cannot happen overnight.

It just takes that much more to satiate someone; we’ve turned into a society of multitaskers

There is an opportunity to further spark innovation by expanding cross-functionality within organisations, especially in marketing and merchandising. When you think about the paradox of choice and the amount of content and options now available to consumers thanks to new technology, business models and distribution channels, they are more sophisticated than ever. With choice, you need to be more strategic, creative and innovative with how and where you access a customer.

How are technological advances impacting consumer behaviour?

It is a relationship everyone is still trying to understand and frankly, as long as there are technological advancements, there will be innovations you can leverage to impact consumer behaviour. Everyone in retail is looking at the impact of technology…