McKinsey & Co_Modern Retail Collective

Photo Credit c/o McKinsey & Company

McKinsey & Co., the global consulting giant with $10 billion in annual revenue, opened a pop-up luxury goods store this fall in the Mall of America in Minneapolis. It’s a laboratory where the firm’s clients are studying consumer behavior and experimenting with the digital tools that will define the future of retail. 

McKinsey’s research approach is novel and, after just two months in operation, has produced some surprises, uncovered tantalizing clues to retailing’s future, and confirmed what we’ve been saying this year—that the retail apocalypse is a myth and online commerce is not a mortal threat to bricks and mortar. Quite the opposite, in fact.

In a recent interview, McKinsey partner Praveen Adhi told me that one of the early findings is that consumers express more interest in discovering products that appeal to them and having a personalized shopping experience than they do in the relative seamlessness of checkout.

The purpose of McKinsey’s Modern Retail Collective (the name on the door) is to “serve as a showcase for how to leverage technology, bring it to life, and commercialize the art of the possible.” Adhi, an expert in the application of analytics in retail efficiency, said that, “Going in, we expected checkout to be the consumer’s top concern, so that has been the biggest surprise so far.”

The Modern Retail Collective is a learning lab for clients but it faces out as a traditional luxury goods store featuring products from recognized brands such as Elevé Cosmetics, Kendra Scott, type:A deodorant and ThirdLove. It incorporates leading-edge technology like smart mirrors and fit predictor software that allows consumers to virtually try on products that aren’t available in the store. Retail participants will change every few months, with each rotation centered around a theme—product discovery, service, personalization, and productivity. 

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