'Forerunner stores' strategy for Swarovski innovation testing

Jewellery brand Swarovski is using Forerunner Stores – key branches where it can try experimental strategies, merchandising techniques, and technology – to drive innovation and change.

Speaking at the Future Stores conference event at London’s Twickenham Stadium this week, the brand’s IT retail manager Stefan Schmidhammer explained that the company launched an innovation unit to drive development three years ago. Its mission was to understand changing consumer needs, technologies and competitor activity, with a scope to work in store, temporary locations, and brand service centres.

The innovation unit started by opening a pop-up store – which operated with no physical inventory, and convinced the company to establish its Forerunner Stores.  

“Consumer feedback was so positive that it was decided to experiment in key permanent stores,” says Schmidhammer. Two flagship stores, in central London and in China, are now used to try out a broad range of ideas.

These ideas have included a virtual try-on station for jewellery, a ‘fun device’ selfie station, and a sparkle bar where shoppers can relax and charge up their phones and tablets.

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