Ray Ban transforming optical retailing

Ray-Ban-flagship-Soho“He needs to do something about those skinny legs. I’m going to make him do some squats. And then we’re going to make him do some biceps curls to beef up those scrawny little arms. But if he could only do something about putting some meat on his ideas.”  (on Barack Obama)

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Is Arnie, the most famous Ray ban wearer of all? Possibly, although celebrities from Justin Bieber, Kate Moss, Tom Cruise to the late James Dean in his 1955 wayfarers, or Audrey Hepburn in 1961’s breakfast at Tiffany’, or Peter Fonda, the original easy rider (1969) might hold a different view,

Oh, did I mention Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan John Lennon, or Michael Jackson as contenders?

Although the common element of the Ray ban brand is disruptive to cool, a brand cache that still largely holds true today, and so we explore the retailing of this iconic brand, one of Eboltoft’s Global Retail Innovation 12 finalists in the interactions category.

Let’s look at Ray-Ban’s flagship store in SoHo, New York City because after all, every cool brand needs a cool flagship in one of the world’s coolest cities.

Although Ray-Ban New York’s shop demonstrates and sells ‘cool’, there is no sign that says how cool they are and that’s cool in itself.

They have successfully transformed their flagship store into a retail store, music hall, artist exhibition space and community cultural haven hybrid, featuring everything from live performances to film screenings. The store’s breadth of offerings embraces and showcases the brand’s long history and history in being cool.

The brands DNA echoes throughout the fit out, it’s a little edgy, irreverent, playful, anti-establishment and is the absolute physical manifestation of the RayBan brand, and that’s what makes it so entertaining. Many retailers can and do try to transform their brand into cross categories, such as in this store, and leave emotion missing in the customer experience.

Great brands don’t include as much as they exclude and Ray Ban lives this creed.

This shop embodies its brand as not functional but aspirational- doesn’t matter if the price is $69 or $799 they all carry the essence of cool, the function of sunglasses and the form of an invitation to join a new tribe.

And they have some cool devices in-store as well including:

3D Magic Mirrors is the secret ingredient

Customers can touch, feel and try on products in an innovative setting with 3D Magic Mirrors to an optician on site. The innovative technology helps customers find the perfect pair of sunglasses giving the ultimate augmented reality experience, where they can virtually try on the latest Ray-Ban styles.

Product Customisation Service

Customised glasses are delivered within a week, after customers use an instore iPad or similar device to create the perfect pair of sunglasses. Embroidery on the temples or cases featuring name or symbol personalises the product for the customer. As we know personalisation or customisation is a key trend to maximise and Ray Ban deliver here.

Additional on-site service: eye examination

The store offers appointments during operating hours making it a one-stop shop. Not only can you look cool, you can check how well you see too, taking the typical sunglasses store to the next level by having an on-site optician.

Hasta la Vista.

Brian Walker is founder and CEO of Retail Doctor Group, Australian elected member of the global retail expert’s alliance, and can be contacted on (02) 9460 2882 or [email protected]Charlotte Eliott, co-author of this column, is part of Retail Doctor Group’s Retail Insights team and can be contacted via email at [email protected].

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