“Shoppable Window” Technology Bridges the Gap between Online Shopping and Traditional Brick-and-Mortar Retail

The tension between online retail and traditional brick-and-mortar shops isn’t news to anyone following retail trends. But at least one forward-thinking retailer has found a new way to use both arenas simultaneously to build its brand and generate sales among its target demographic.

Earlier this year, Kate Spade New York, long known for its higher-end dresses and accessories, introduced its “Kate Spade Saturday” line, billed as a more casual and accessible little sister brand targeting 25- to 30-year old women and offering apparel, accessories, home goods and travel accessories with a modern aesthetic at prices about 50% lower than Kate Spade New York. Kate Spade Saturday opened its first retail store in Tokyo and launched a US-based online store in March 2013. Before opening any retail locations stateside, however, the brand tested the waters (and whetted shoppers’ appetites) with a handful of “shoppable windows” in Manhattan. For a limited time during the summer, interactive store windows, made possible through a partnership with eBay, were installed in formerly vacant storefronts where shoppers could view a display of 30 products at a time (updated each Saturday) and order merchandise via a touch screen at the storefront. Open 24-hours a day and offering free 1-hour delivery within New York City, the shoppable windows were an eye-catching and innovative entrée into the traditional retail sphere.

Kate Spade Saturday now has physical locations in LA and Houston, as well as in New York City, where there’s a pop-up store and another soon-to-be-opened 3,000 square foot location just a few doors down from one of its shoppable windows. The brand’s owner, Fifth & Pacific Companies, Inc. (formerly known as Liz Claiborne Inc.), has indicated that similar shoppable window concepts could be introduced in its other brands, which include Jack Spade, Juicy Couture and Lucky Brand.

Viewed as a case study, Kate Spade Saturday demonstrates the benefits of shoppable windows to retailers: they serve as a platform to generate publicity and interest around new brands with little overhead, and could even help generate more sales from existing brick-and-mortar locations. Shoppable window concepts could also be attractive to Landlords, since they represent a novel and productive way to use vacant spaces or spaces in high foot-traffic areas that simply aren’t large enough to accommodate a traditional store. Finally, for shoppers they represent further refinement of online retail, with much more instant gratification than previously seen with other online retailers. To be sure, as the Kate Spade Saturday experiment unfolds, other retailers, as well as Landlords, will be taking notes.

Related topics: Landlords, Retail