NRF2019: How STORY, B8ta And Marxent Fortify Macy’s Experiential Arsenal

Macy’s had an eventful 2018 as it sought to transform its customer experience across all channels, acquiring New York City concept shop STORY, investing in b8ta, which labels itself as a “retail-as-a-service” concept and even deploying in-store VR experiences with Marxent. At the NRF Big Show, CEO Macy’s Jeff Gennette let the companies’ CEOs reveal how each enterprise is encouraging experiential retail at every touch point.

The panel included:

  • b8ta CEO Vibhu Norby;
  • STORY CEO Rachel Shechtman; and
  • Marxent CEO Beck Besecker.

Shechtman noted that the STORY store reinvents itself every three to eight weeks, similar to an art or design gallery, so shoppers will see an entirely new curation of products upon stepping into the store after two months. Stores are created on the notion of “retail as a media channel.”


“We’re used to seeing magazines including content such as articles and pictures,” Shechtman said. “We share our content through curated merchandise on the subject matter. But collaboration for us wasn’t just about merchandise, it was about strategic partnerships that became part of the content.”

When partnering with other businesses, the STORY team asks themselves three questions:

• Do they have authority and authenticity in the category which they exist?

• Do they create product that could be relevant with some subset of men, women and kids, so that we’re not just being hyper-narrow in our culture?

• Do we like them?

“[The last question] might sound simple or silly, but we’re spending a lot of time doing and trying things we’ve never done before,” Shechtman said. “When you’re doing that, you really need to have faith in the partnership when you’re pushing that envelope.”

B8ta, Marxent Highlight New Tech Infusion At Macy’s

The b8ta software platform is designed to measure experiential retail, specifically making the physical store as measurable as an e-Commerce site, according to Norby. In particular, b8ta measures statistics such as the number of impressions per product in a store, and how long a shopper will hold that product, in order to gauge interest.

“Every Macy’s today is driven by metrics that were being measured many years ago,” Norby said. “Those metrics still show up everywhere. Maybe sales per square foot isn’t the best way to measure anymore.”

While Macy’s has only deployed the b8ta concept throughout its The Market @ Macy’s pop-up shops, the retailer has delivered VR and 3D-based technology to a far larger cohort of consumers — and driven higher sales.

The Marxent VR experience has been implemented in 60 Macy’s stores so far, with each experience averaging 15 to 18 minutes per store visit, according to Besecker. But the experience doesn’t end there: shoppers use the technology online for anywhere from three to four hours across multiple sessions in one day. Besecker said the technology has improved overall AOV 50% to 60%.

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