Sharing in retail

Sharing in Retail

Many of the most valued companies in the world base their business model on not owning their offering or a tangible product. The likes of Netflix now mean that customers aren’t required to buy the DVD, Uber doesn’t own their fleet of vehicles and supper clubs that pop up in new locations don’t own the premises; the idea of owning in business is now not a necessity.

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Retail is playing catch-up in this sector somewhat, with the industry talking about the shareable retail landscape in terms of the merchandise offering. There are many start-ups and apps that allow you to share clothes including Rent the Runway and Bag, Borrow and Steal that are becoming more prominent and successful. These are based on the premise that consumers can’t afford to buy the high-ticketed luxury goods, or prefer not to spend their disposable income on such expensive items, so offer a short-term rental as a solution.


But real estate retail is yet to be fully encompassed by the idea of sharing. Companies such as Appear Here and We Are Pop Up allow retailers to rent a variety spaces in cities throughout Europe and America, but they don’t fully embody the idea of sharing; there is another level that is yet to be tapped into. The term pop-up has also become over-used within the industry with some perceiving it as a ‘dirty’ word as mainstream retailers jump on this, albeit late, trend bandwagon.

Millennials are becoming increasingly savvy to the idea of sharing with 76% feeling it’s better for the environment and 78% believing it creates a strong brand community – something that many retailers strive for. Collaborations are a form of sharing, with brands amalgamating their knowledge and appeal to create a greater attraction, which is resulted in great success for many brands. Yet, this isn’t focused on the sharing of space, more the sharing of resources and brand power.


The sharing of space isn’t totally new and it plays an important part in the retail mix, making spaces transformable depending on certain external factors and making them adaptable for a carousel of brands to showcase in simultaneously. Topshop is a notable brand that achieves this, renting out small areas within their 214 Oxford Street store via Appear Here to brands that complement and enhance their image. Likewise, Ross Wilson has taken over the Idle Man store to showcase his exhibition of Supreme clothing from the last 23 years before it is sold to fans around the world.

This creates a marketplace of various brands that can complement one another, creating a lifestyle store that customers can buy into with each aspect of your senses being acknowledged.  For example, a perfumery brand to evoke an often untapped sense, a street-food vendor providing the catering, an art installation indulging your eyes on a visual journey, a musician commissioned to create a soundtrack to the store and tangible products instore to interact with. The space is shared with multiple brands, but all complimenting an enhancing another, and not in the form of a traditional collaboration.


Retailers need to adapt to the changing environment and there are many trendsetters and brands trying to predict what that may be, some of which can be impractical and outlandish. However, looking at the part disruptors have played in other industries there could well be another tacking point in the retail space landscape.