Facebook on Monday opened a small business pop-up at nine Macy's stores — in New York City; Pittsburgh; Atlanta; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; San Antonio; Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle — as part of the department store's The Market @ Macy's.
As part of that effort, which will be up through Feb. 2, Facebook is running an ad campaign that includes other brands that are also part of The Market @ Macy's, according to an email to Retail Dive from Facebook. That includes signage at Grand Central Station in New York, promotions through its Facebook and Instagram platforms and in digital ads forged by Facebook's Creative Shop.
Macy's also announced its holiday specials and services, including, along with the boutique brands found at The Market: its new Goodful home goods brand forged with Buzzfeed, its new Tailor Square custom suit service for men, gift guides curated on Instagram and Pinterest, streamlined shopping and checkout on its app and flexible fulfillment like in-store pickup.
The Market @ Macy's launched early this year and immediately drew comparisons to the city's Story retail concept, with its rotating, theme-based, curation and experiential approach to retail. The department store a few months later acquired Story outright, and now Story founder Rachel Shechtman is the retailer's brand experience officer.
Macy's isn't alone in inviting in emerging brands — often online pure-plays — to expand and differentiate its assortment. Mall developers GGP (whose "In Real Life" store showcases online brands in Chicago's Water Tower Place) and Simon Property Group (whose "The Edit" does the same at the Roosevelt Field mall on Long Island), similarly aim to foster discovery. The department store is pitching the concept as a "turnkey solution" to brands looking to break into brick and mortar retail. Unlike traditional concessions, Macy's staff run the pop-ups, brands pay a fixed fee but pocket all sales, and Macy's evaluates sales and traffic. Also different: duration is flexible, though a one-month minimum commitment is required.
At the holidays, with the help of Facebook's small business advertising team, The Market @ Macy's will host about 100 brands, which sell apparel, accessories, beauty, entertainment, experiences, decorative home, stationery, technology and gifts, according to a Macy's press release. Macy's is calling the effort "retail provided as a service" that is helpful for both established and new brands in reaching new audiences.
The tie-up with Facebook is something of a departure for the new Market @ Macy's because the social media site (or more accurately its advertising arm) is there for the brands more than the customers. "All over the world people are running businesses, big and small, that have inspiring stories and we want to help them succeed," Facebook Director of North America Marketing Michelle Klein said in a statement emailed to Retail Dive. "We are thrilled to be partnering with one of the world's biggest retailers to bring some of those businesses to a physical store this holiday season."
Facebook's involvement indicates that the storied department store has grasped, at least to some extent, the experiential value of its stores, something that some experts say boosts sales in all channels. Shoppers impressed with their experience may not pick out anything to take to the checkout on the spot, but are more likely to buy something online later, according to Adi Biran, CEO of space rental firm Splacer.