STORY … ‘shape-shifting’ the retail space?


Huffington Post

STORY Huffington Post

You’ve probably never heard of STORY, but it may represent the most intriguing story in retailing today!


STORY is the nascent idea that may well effectively ‘shape-shift’ the retail space.


1st, read the NYT article by clicking on the link.

2nd, go to the STORY web site by clicking on the link.

3rd, Read my story about STORY.

Today, Ad headlines scream – 10, 20, 30,40, 70% discounts. Half-off everything! BOGO, Free financing for a year! Guaranteed lowest prices! Ultimately, the last headline reads … Going Out Of Business Sale!

Today, every business competing for the future is claiming to be customer-centric, customer-focused, customer-yadda-yadda-yadda. Yet, retailing today remains a sea of sameness. Same Product. Same Presentation. Same Price, Same Services. Today, in business vertical after business vertical, the historic market strategy of relying on price competition as the differentiator can no longer sustain growth and profitability.

Retailing today is –  in a word – Commoditized. The Internet, as used by most businesses creates commoditization for both goods and services on an unprecedented scale. It eliminates much of the human element in traditional buying and selling. Friction free input / search enables the instant comparisons of goods and  prices – saving consumers both time and money. The Internet has turned most transactions for goods and services into a virtual commodity pit.

So what’s new? That’s the STORY story!

STORY defines itself as, “A retail space that has the point of view of a magazine, changes like a gallery and sells things like a store.” Yet that appears to be too simple a definition.

What if we begin to think of retailing as a story – an experience? The store is a stage.  A retailer stages an experience when they engage customers in a memorable way. The retailer creates a story and ultimately an experience around that story. If that experience leaves an indelible impression, that experience becomes a valuable distinction. [Go back to the STORY web page and take a good look at its construction and content.]

STORY  creates a fusion, a synthesis, an integration of physical goods, services and space and then combines it with visual and story content. STORY is transformed into something that transcends the inherently ignorable – the commodity retailer. Every six to eight weeks STORY changes. The physical retail space, racks, shelving display, signage, merchandise, services, staged events and Internet story content all – change.

STORY knows that an experience theme must always drive all the elements of merchandise, services and staged events toward a unified story line that wholly captivates the customers. The essence of the theme must fit the character of the enterprise, be authentic and resonate. Impressions must be harmonized with positive cues. Customers ultimately purchase goods and services as tangible artifacts of  real or imagined experiences.

The brick and mortar location of STORY is in New York City, on 10th Avenue. Across the Hudson River from Hoboken and Weehawken. Not far East from Pier 57.   STORY, however, is really located at the intersection of the realms of the Real, brick and mortar location, and the Virtual, Internet location.

To paraphrase Brenda Laurel and Alan Kay, the Internet is an experience theater. Think of it as a representation machine. The Internet experience is about creating both real and imaginary worlds that have a special relationship to reality – worlds in which we can extend, amplify and enrich our own capacities to think, feel and act.  The Internet is a medium that can essentially simulate the details of any other medium, including media that cannot exist physically. The Internet is the first metamedium. It has degrees of freedom for representation and expression never before encountered and as of yet barely investigated.

Importantly, the Internet is infinitely addressable and configurable. Big data or mega data allows us to move from mass marketing to marketing one-to-one. We can create a multi-dimensional dialogue and experience between the customer and the retailer or brand. Sophisticated metrics can measure the efficacy of the effort and strategies and tactics can easily be altered. Customers become influencers that share their experiences exponentially throughout the global Internet community.

What we know, in conclusion,  is that designing for the average is the root cause for commoditization and customer dissatisfaction. Creating customer specific experiences is now within the realm of possibility and probability.

STORY is about chasing the customer not the competition. STORY is creating an experiential brand and that’s why STORY may represent the most intriguing story in retailing today.



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