Luggage and handbag retailer Strandbags launched a new concept flagship store in Chadstone Shopping Centre over the weekend – the first step in a new bricks-and-mortar strategy which will see some stores triple in size over the next three to five years.
With handheld payment devices freeing up staff and digital screens showing video and digital content, the Chadstone flagship store is Strandbags’ effort to deliver a world-class shopping experience.
Strandbags managing director Felicity McGahan told Inside Retail the store was fitted to be unique and engaging, but also to give customers the freedom to shop for what they want, how they want, when they want.
“Digitisation is giving the customers complete control. They’re in control of us, they’re savvy,” McGahan said.
“Sixty-four per cent of our customers have already researched online before they walk into our stores. So, how do we create a space that supports that? Where they can come in and really engage with the brand?
“We’ve got to give them a reason to get off the couch and come in-store, and not let them down when they get in there. Trying to find that balance has been really important.”
Fixing what isn’t broken
According to McGahan, the Chadstone flagship is the first in a new line of Strandbags stores, underpinning a complete redesign and refresh of the core brand.
Contrary to many of its peers, this refresh is not part of a turnaround strategy, or an effort to stave off slowing sales – with the business selling a handbag every five seconds, a wallet sold every six seconds, and a suitcase every 12 seconds.
“There’s a saying: The time to fix the roof is when the sun’s shining,” MacGahan said.
“It’s not a broken business, and I’ve spent a lot of time understanding what makes it successful. This is about evolution. We’ve got to keep moving, keep changing. Retail is changing, and the experience is very important.”
The luggage retail market is growing at a rate of five per cent year-on-year, according to McGahan, which has enabled the brand to quietly grow its footprint.
In the last year, Strandbags has up-sized 25 of its stores, and is looking to do the same across many more over the next three to five years with the improvements seen in the Chadstone flagship to be rolled out across its store fleet.
“We see a mega-store opportunity. We see large stores as well, and then obviously core stores as well. Chadstone is just another proof point to say that this is the right strategy,” McGahan said.
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