b8ta, the experiential retailer and pioneer of retail as a service (RaaS), is launching a new community-driven fashion and lifestyle retail concept focused on discovery and meaningful engagement. The store, called Forum, is opening in Los Angeles on Nov. 15, and will connect the modern consumer with forward-thinking brands that prioritize quality, design and sustainability.
Forum will serve as a social marketplace, and brand partners will design their own space and have creative control to curate brand experiences for consumers, including product launches and community, influencer and VIP events. It will provide brands with the ability to test new markets, products, brand messaging and product pricing, and will leverage b8ta’s RaaS software platform to deliver insights to brand partners on in-store engagement, impression count of guests that walk by their placement, time spent browsing, and how often a piece goes into the dressing room.
"Many of the same problems that we set out to solve with b8ta exist in other verticals," says Phillip Raub, co-founder and president of b8ta. "As we started to explore new categories, one of the loudest voices advocating for new experiences came from the fashion and apparel industry. As a result, we tasked a small internal team to develop a business plan as well as a thoughtful brand that aligned with our core values as a company. Thus, Forum was born."
b8ta's goal for Forum was to create an experience tailored to today's consumer who's looking for real-life connections and engagement with brands that share similar values to them. Forum will feature women’s athleisure brand ALALA as its first anchor partner, as well as a rotating selection of products from more than 25 brands. Each brand selected for Forum has a unique story to share with consumers to spark engagement and conversation.
"We're excited that the store is at 100 percent capacity and will contain a mixture of men's, women's and unisex products," Raub says. "Similar to b8ta, we will have tools to help us determine the success of a product beyond just their in-store sales. Those insights will help inform our partnerships team on the types of products we should carry in the future."
Raub believes brand loyalty starts with great merchandise, but that it also goes beyond that. "Loyalty is built on relationships, trust and a sense of community," notes Raub. "As a business, you can't take your customers for granted. We have an exceptional team in place that will act as brand ambassadors for our partners and social advocates for our guests."
Customers can expect to see an innovative dressing room experience at Forum that uses RFID technology. Brands will be able to change the dressing rooms’ backdrops to reflect their aesthetics and to encourage social media sharing. Furthermore, consumers will be able to read about the brand and its products, and request different colors and sizes, all through the digital display located in the dressing room.
While b8ta plans to open additional Forum locations, the company felt Los Angeles was a strong choice for its launch.
"We looked at a wide range of markets, but L.A. felt natural," Raub says. "There's a huge designer/maker community within L.A. that vibed well with the brand that we were building. We definitely have plans to expand Forum beyond L.A. in 2020. However, our primary goal is to launch the first Forum store and create an amazing experience for our [brand] partners."
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Ashley Chiaradio is the Senior Content Strategist at Total Retail. Ashley has been creating content for more than 7 years, and provides a unique insight in covering the retail industry having worked directly for retailers in the past. She’s passionate about profiling women leadership in the space.