Call it a high concept store. Luxottica’s just opened Eye Hub store in Australia is 16,000 square feet of interactive merchandising and jaw-dropping design.
The basic layout is shaped like an eyeball and includes a wind machine, a treadmill, machines that simulate snow and water glare, and 41 touch screens that serve as cameras and mirrors for shoppers to check out the frames.
At the epicenter of the store is the ‘iris,’ home to the most expensive brands such as Dolce & Gabbana, Bulgari and Versace. The products are displayed like a rare wine vault, and the store boasts the biggest selection of high-end eyewear in the southern hemisphere.
As the press release notes, "With a simulator room for testing glasses and sunglasses for glare and wind resistance, a product vault featuring stunning and exclusive designer glasses visible from every area of the store, touch-screen interactive mirrors that allow people to play back their new look, a secure play place where parents can leave their kids while they shop, the concept store reflects the next generation in experiential shopping."
The store is located in the Melbourne suburb of Hawthorn, and is part of OPSM Eye Hub, Australia’s equivalent of LensCrafters. Plans are to build up to 15 more in the U.S., China and the U.K. by 2013.
Luxottica, based in Italy, is a $6.6 billion eyewear company trying to reinvent itself in tougher economic times – and drawing on inspiration from Disneyland and Apple. They are also struggling, along with other major retailers to compete with online shopping in the eyewear category.
“If the Internet was perfect for everybody, obviously no one would shop at retail stores. The reality is, you need to create a connection, create a personal experience, and that’s what we’ve done,” comments Chris Beer, CEO Asia Pacific, greater China and South Africa for Luxottica.
The Eye Hub offers education areas for research on eye problems and prescriptions and semi-private spaces for consultation at the push of a button by salespeople completing a sale or adjusting a pair of glasses. There’s even a secure play space where parents can park their kids while shopping… replete with a soft wall and videos.
“This is a huge lab we’re opening. We are experimenting,” says Andrea Guerra, Luxottica’s global chief executive. “Where the world is changing and changing fast, your thoughts have to be bold.”
A retail store for the digital world, this global retail concept epitomizes a personalized shopping experience. This first store was designed by E2 of Millennium Dome fame.
Retail futurist Dr Ian Pearson, often cited as the inventor of text messaging, believes that bricks-and-mortar retail locations must step up their game in today's ‘care economy,’ which requires greater attention to customers who increasingly value their time.
Luxottica is well poised. Coming soon: customer photos snapped at the camera kiosks in-store can be posted to Facebook and other sites to get their friends' opinions before purchase. In another lesson from the web, a concierge greets every customer, “explains what the store has to offer, then we ask that customer how they would like to interact with the store,” said Beer.
Social media + a care economy = a Disneyland Epcot Center meets Apple eye-glasses store. Luxottica CEO Andrea Guerra discusses the Eye Hub retail concept in the video below; for more insights, visit the brand's YouTube channel.