When a brand names a store their Flagship, the stakes are automatically higher. Flagship Stores must serve their local residents, as well as serving as a tourist destination.
Consider the difference between the Macy’s in your local mall and going to Macy’s Flagship in Herald Square.
Even if you’ve never been to that Macy’s, as one of the most famous Flagship Stores, your expectations are higher. The store has been there since 1901, is 3 acres in size, and is associated with one of the most watched annual parades on television. This is a destination spot for tourists visiting New York City, rather than a place you casually walk into on your way to the food court.
Design for Smaller Stores First.
Flagship Stores get the biggest budget and the most time to put into the project. So if you design for the Flagship first, you will have to scale down and cut corners when you are setting up the other stores. This could lead to frustration and disappointment.
Many times, a Flagship Store is the first location for a brand. So when other stores open they may be a scaled down version of that store. We recommend the opposite approach! Don’t design for the Flagship Store first, but the smaller stores instead. This was a successful method in our work with Time Warner Cable. First we spent a year opening 20 smaller Experience Stores across the country. Along with our design partners at FAME, we took what we learned from those stores, and then applied it to opening the Flagship Store in New York.
When you design for the smaller stores first, you get a chance to learn what works and what needs improvement before you launch the more high-profile store. The brand needs to be able to walk before it can run! When you are ready to start planning for the Flagship Store, you can take everything that works in the smaller stores and make it bigger and better. Building up your customer base in smaller stores first will also give you a better chance to get to understand who they are, which will give you insight when planning for your Flagship location. We talk more about the relationship between customers and brands in our post, 4 Steps to a Positive ROI from In-Store Digital Signage.
After the Flagship Store Opens
Opening the Flagship Store is not the end of your retail planning journey. Even though we recommend planning for the smaller stores first, you may open more stores after your Flagship Store location is opened.
The App Station is a key feature that makes the Flagship Store stand out from the previously opened locations. As a bigger store, the Flagship is able to house a 90 inch tablet comfortably, and helps to create a grander experience. This showpiece would not have worked in smaller locations, because it simply too big. It would have overwhelmed the locations and taken away from the overall experience.
Since Time Warner Cable liked the App Station so much, we planned a scaled down (to 60 inches) version for smaller stores. The first store with the 60″ version is the one in the Queens Center Mall. It is still impressive in size (and was declared the biggest tablet in Queens), but the 90 inch original would have been far too much for the location.
This article appears as part of our Flagship Store series. In case you missed them, the previous posts in the series were, What is a Flagship Store and Hidden Benefits of a Flagship Store. To find out when we publish the next post in this series, please follow us on Twitter @realityi.