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A Week in Warsaw: A Peek into What’s Inspiring us in Eastern European Retail

The McMillanDoolittle team recently explored the newest shopping centers and retailers in Warsaw, Poland as part of our biannual conference with our international consortium, Ebeltoft Group. Read on for our views on the Polish retail industry and take a look at two standout Polish retail innovators we visited.

A (Very) Brief History of Modern Polish Retail

Retail in Poland is a relatively young industry that truly emerged within the last 30 years, with the 90’s ushering in the free market and significant foreign investment that catalyzed market entry of large hypermarket players like Carrefour and Auchan. The aughts brought new formats such as retail outlets and retail parks (commonly referred to as lifestyle centers in the US).  The most recent decades hailed the growth of convenience stores and omnichannel-enabled modern shopping experiences pushing the boundaries of digital retail innovation, such as local fashion and sportwear leaders, Modivo and R-GOL.

Modivo Embeds Ecommerce Principles in its Personalized In-Store Journey

Polish fashion brand Modivo was founded in 2019 and offers premium streetwear apparel targeting a youthful and digitally savvy customer base. We visited the Modivo location at the Galeria Młociny Shopping Center. The store offers a modern space with large dedicated seating areas fitted with touch screen monitors for in-the-moment browsing and digital product selections. Large videowall displays showcase the Modivo collection and current promotions. Physical inventory, however, is not a focal point – the assortment on display is limited to a couple of small clothing racks.

Modivo videowall

Modivo customers browsing items on touch screen tablets.

Customers begin their in-store shopping journey at Modivo by logging in with a phone and browsing the store’s inventory, selecting items and sizes to be pulled from the adjoining backroom warehouse that houses more than 100,000 SKUs.

Modivo tablet

A view of the customer tablets used for browsing and selecting styles inside Modivo stores.

After customers make tablet-assisted product selections, store associates retrieve items and subsequently notify customers when their fitting room is ready.  Customers entering fitting rooms are greeted with an automated closet door opening to reveal requested garments in a delightful moment of retail theater. Fitting room touch screens allow customers to adjust the lighting and select more items or different sizes to be added to their private wardrobe.

Modivo leveraged Oracle Retail’s merchandising cloud solution to enable robust data collection to provide critical consumer insights and continuously improve future customer interactions. In time, Modivo’s digital-forward shopping journey will raise the bar in clientelling by offering an automated yet highly personalized in-store fashion shopping experience.

R-GOL overview

The R-GOL flagship store interior located in downtown Warsaw, Poland.

R-GOL’s Tech-driven Football Flagship Puts the Customer in Control

With the FIFA World Cup underway and excitement for football (soccer in the US) at fever pitch not only in Poland but across the globe, we visited the largest football store in Poland: R-GOL. R-GOL was founded by and created for Polish football fanatics. The retailer was established as a family business in 2000 and has since grown to become the country’s leading football specialty retailer, offering branded apparel, footwear, and accessories. Their latest flagship store in Warsaw commands 6600 sq. ft. (620 sq. meters) of selling space across two immersive levels with unique customer touchpoints and engaging merchandise displays throughout. Cleats are merchandised by color and style along large wall panel displays, with each panel outfitted with a black RFID-enabled shelf and a corresponding display monitor situated at eye level.

R-GOL displays

Display wall at the R-GOL flagship store is powered by RFID technology.

Each display shoe has an RFID sticker affixed to its insole, allowing customers to simply place it on the shelf to populate an adjacent digital display with the item’s detailed product page. This creative use of RFID technology takes the hassle out of manually looking up products on a customer’s phone and simultaneously offers a convenient view of in-store and online inventory in real time.

RFID technology

The shelf scans the RFID and displays the appropriate product page on the digital monitor.

R-GOL Flagship Reflects and Builds a Fanatical Brand Community

Additional highlights from the flagship store are a jersey personalization station, a replica of the lounge featured in a famous Polish football YouTube channel, and a field patch to trial cleats.

R-GOL lounge

Replica of a famous lounge featured on Kanał Sportowy, a leading Polish soccer YouTube channel

The retailer also maintains a close partnership with the Polish Football Association, hosting meet-and-greets with players, housing an official Polish National Team Fan Shop in stores, and hosting special events on game days. The second floor of the store has a press conference room and a VIP lounge where players can gather, sign brand deals, and relax during store events. Floor-to-ceiling glass windows afford plentiful social media opportunities to wave to adoring fans gathered on the flagship’s first floor.

VIP lounge

VIP Lounge located on the second floor of the R-GOL flagship.

While ecommerce drives most of the company’s sales, the flagship builds brand awareness, engagement, and memorable new product discovery points for customers. R-GOL’s meteoric growth from small business to category leader over the years has positioned the company to be the go-to destination for football amateurs, professionals, and die-hard fans alike.

Watching Retail in Warsaw and Beyond

Our recent tour of Warsaw’s leading retail corridors is part of our ongoing international programming we engage in as a founding member of Ebeltoft Group, a global consortium of retail consultancies. McMillanDoolittle’s worldwide network provides our clients and readers with unique access to the latest in retail trends, concepts, and technologies emerging around the globe. Learn more about our global Ebeltoft Group alliance and internationalization capabilities by simply contacting us. To stay up to date on our latest retail insights, you can follow along on our blog, Instagram, and on LinkedIn.

Co-authors Ava Buechel and Amanda Lai

ava_amanda@mdretail.com

Ava provides market and consumer research, planning, and analysis support for McMillanDoolittle retail consulting projects. Her experience in marketing, digital transformation, brand strategy, and retail innovation brings an updated perspective in the fast-paced business climate of today. Amanda manages the company’s food retail practice and supports strategic planning, retail concept development, consumer research, and real estate analysis for a wide range of global retail clients.

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