Can b8ta do for fashion what it’s done for consumer tech?
Author: Matthew Stern
Source: Retail Wire
Since 2015, b8ta has enabled direct-to-consumer tech brands and gadget vendors with a minimal retail presence to get their products into the hands of customers that might not otherwise run across them. Now the “retail-as-a-service” platform is launching a new concept that aims to do for fashion and lifestyle brands what it has done for consumer technology.
B8ta announced the launch of its new store concept, Forum, last week. The lifestyle and fashion-oriented Forum, like the main b8ta concept, will enable customers to demo and experience new products from an array of different brands, which will be able to collect data on how customers are interacting with their products in-store. The new concept allows partner brands to design their own space and gives them creative control over the in-store experience they offer.
Alala, a women’s athleisure brand based in New York City, will be one of Forum’s inaugural anchor brands when the first location opens in Los Angeles in November, according to Glossy. T-shirt brand Culk, shoe brand Moral Code and jeans brand Unemployed Denim will also merchandise their products in the store. As tech brands do with b8ta’s main retail presence, lifestyle and fashion brands will pay a monthly fee to appear on the Forum shelves.
In addition to the 15 to 20 standalone, gadget-focused stores that b8ta has opened in the past couple of years, other retailers currently leverage the company’s tech platform to create their own demo-centered, multi-brand store experience. The b8ta platform facilitates remote vendor control over how their product is priced, presented and marketed.
Last year, Macy’s acquired a minority stake in b8ta and began using the platform to build out The Market @ Macy’s, an in-store pop-up with a revolving lineup of products at select locations.
More recently, b8ta has been instrumental in developing Toys “R” Us’ two new small-concept locations, which are slated to open in time for the holiday shopping season and purport to offer the type of play-focused experience that the chain lacked when it filed for bankruptcy.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Can b8ta succeed with a lifestyle and fashion concept the way it has in consumer electronics? What characteristics of lifestyle and fashion brands might make them work, or not work, with b8ta’s retail-as-a-service model?