Melbourne, Australia—Want to jump on a treadmill and see if those Ray-Bans would stay on tight during your morning jog? Want to snap a photo at one of 41 touch-screen kiosks and see how you look in those Prada plastics? Want to step into a simulated wind tunnel complete with “snow glare” and see how those Revo’s will fare on the ski slopes? The step into Luxottica’s newest retail venture: Eye Hub—a concept store debuting in Australia that the eyewear company hopes to roll out globally.
While the $6.6 billion Milan-based Luxottica Group S.p.A is already in the retail business (it owns LensCrafters and Sunglass Hut chains, the latter which is moving into hundreds of Macy’s stores), it has faced challenges from the economic downturn as well as Internet shopping. So it has upped the ante with a fun, interactive retail concept that is part consumer research lab, part consumer-driven retailing, and part entertainment.
Just as visitors to Apple computer stores are met at the door by an accessible service agent who sends them (or takes them personally) to the appropriate department to fulfill their tech needs, Eye Hub aims to similarly solve consumers’ personal eyewear demands. To that end, Eye Hub’s “concierge” will explain the store’s offerings, then point consumers into the right direction, be it a children’s area with videos to keep them busy while mom shops or an area featuring “frames for square faces.”
Designed by award-winning architects E2 (the designers of London’s Millennium Dome), the store itself is sleek, futuristic and shaped like the inside of an eye.
Chris Beer, Luxottica’s ceo, Asia Pacific, South Africa & Greater China, is excited about the interactivity. “Typically, retailers tell the customer what’s going to happen when they walk into a store. This first-of-its-kind concept relies on the customers dictating their own shopping experience, including telling a concierge meeting them at the door how they want to shop and what they want to spend time on. The best thing about this store is that it will be a unique experience for each customer.”
The debut store will feature over 2,000 optical and sunglass designs, including some with diamonds, with a product vault in the center of the store featuring exclusive designs.
Luxottica has already begun its recovery, with first-quarter sales 6% higher in 2010 over last year. If Eye Hub works out, get ready for it to come Stateside. Luxottica has plans to build 10 to 15 more over the next three years.
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