There is no doubt that e-commerce is a rapidly rising market. So is the gap between products available online and experienced offline. Especially in a very digitalized world, real experiences are becoming more and more important and valuable. Since b8ta pioneered the so-called Retail-as-a-Service business model innovation and started 2015 with its first retail store designed for experience in Palo Alto, various companies like Bulletin or Leap launched similar retail models within the US over the years. However, what is the status of Retail-as-a-Service in Europe?
The earliest player in the area of Retail-as-a-Service in Europe is Smartech. With its very similar approach to b8ta, Smartech started in department stores in cities like London, Berlin, Copenhagen, Milan or Paris. And while b8ta launched its first transatlantic store in Dubai, Smartech already has stores across continents and pushed its store network this year. Consumers can now try innovative products at Smartech in New York, San Francisco or Tokyo.
While Smartech focuses on locations within department stores, 2019 became the year of new players in the game – players like _blaenk, Productpine or VAUND. In December 2018, Dusseldorf got its first Retail-as-a-Service Christmas Popup Store powered by Brickspaces as a proof-of-concept. That proof became _blaenk in this year’s summer. Unlike b8ta or Smartech, _blaenk concentrates on different seasonal themes.
In November 2019, the people of Amsterdam could visit Prodcutpine’s first Retail-as-a-Service store. Productpine’s concept and product portfolio are very similar to b8ta’s. The style has a very elegant Netherlandish touch though.
Last but not least, it finally was Hannover’s turn. At the end of November VAUND pre-opened its doors for innovative guests. On 750 sqm, VAUND, backed by the REALTALE GmbH, provides discoveries and experiences of hardware products from young startups as well as traditional premium brands like Bosch, SMEG, BMW or Teufel.
All these companies are evidence for the rising “Retail-as-a-Service” model in Europe. We as tryff are convinced that we will see many more companies and stores in the near future, but also different variations of RaaS. The model will be definitely divided into two main concepts: store operators and platform providers. Unlike store operators, which manage their very own space including staff, platform providers – like tryff – will establish a network of decentralized local shops in order to turn online shops easily into brick and mortar chains. We are looking forward to 2020 because it’s gonna be great!