Swarovski picks Milan to open first Crystal Studio store worldwide
Austrian crystal specialist Swarovski confirmed its special relationship with Italy by choosing the Swarovski store in via Dante, Milan, to introduce the first example worldwide of the new Crystal Studio retail format, created in collaboration with Milan-based designer Patricia Urquiola and heavily focused on interactivity and digital technology.
“In the last 12 months, we carried out several tests in various stores, trialling different ways of letting our clientèle enjoy a new shopping experience, in line with our brand’s evolution,” Massimo La Greca, managing director Italy and Iberian Peninsula for Swarovski, told FashionNetwork.com. “We brought all these innovations together in our new store, choosing Milan because it’s a leading fashion and design capital."
Robert Buchbauer, chairman of the executive board and CEO of Swarovski’s Consumer Goods Business, says: “The retail world has changed greatly in the last five years, thanks to its increasingly integrated online/offline environment and the omni-channel approach. We have embraced this philosophy in order to foster new in-store experiences, no longer focusing only on what was in the past the main element of any shop, its look. We tested different digital experiences in various cities and, seeing how successful they were, we decided to incorporate them in a fully fledged store format, starting in Milan with the help of Patricia Urquiola.”
The Crystal Studio format has been designed to put customers and their needs at the heart of the store, encouraging experimentation, creativity and spontaneity. Its interactive digital touch-points aim not only at improving the purchasing process but also at creating a welcoming ambience. Materials and colours play a key role in the store’s interior design, and the raw materials selected give it a studio feel, contrasting with a palette of warmer colours. On the grey porcelain floors, the display cabinets look like open-ended, modular showcases, accented by a rose gold metallic mesh.
At the heart of Crystal Studio lies the ‘Sparkle Bar’, a counter where customers are able to discover new products and create new looks with Swarovski jewels, advised by the brand’s experts. The mirrors can be illuminated in a variety of ways, and a series of digital screens provide access to style tips by the influencers from Swarovski’s online community.
“When I joined the group three years ago, the challenge was to try out something totally new for Swarovski, a long-established, well-positioned name. Our new retail concept will be replicated worldwide and in different contexts. It will therefore always be a bespoke format, based on the features of the various locations and the preferences of local consumers,” said Michele Molon, executive vice-president Omnichannel and Commercial Operations and member of Swarovski's management board, talking to FashionNetwork.com.
“The next stage will take us to a shopping mall about one hour from Paris, where we will open a store smaller than Milan’s, about 60 m2. This year, we will also open a first concession in Paris with DFS, a 20 m2 shop-in-shop inside the wonderful new La Samaritaine building in rue de Rivoli,” added Molon.
This year, Crystal Studio will also land in Shanghai, Beijing, Los Angeles and Hong Kong, and in 2020 it will reach London’s Oxford Street and Tokyo’s Ginza district: “We will open it ahead of the Olympics, and it will be the most majestic of our stores. Later on, we will also renovate Swarovski's historic Innsbruck flagship according to the new concept; in 2020, we are planning about 100 renovations,” said Molon.
The introduction of Crystal Studio will continue in Italy too next year, with two on the cards for Q1, one of them in a Turin shopping centre, to reach a total of 10 by the end of 2020.
“Crystal Studio’s goal is to let customers choose the shopping mode they prefer; this is what ‘omni-channel’ means for us, a genuine evolution of the retail trade. Nowadays, consumers aged below 30 research a great deal to create their style, something which can no longer be an imposition. The new store gives customers the chance of becoming virtual brand ambassadors for Swarovski; we want to eliminate the gap between brand and people, allowing them to simply enjoy an experience in the store,” said Molon. “On the online front, we’re forging very strong partnerships, like the one with Zalando. While offline sales will grow single-digit this year, we are expecting highly significant growth for our direct and indirect e-commerce business,” he added.
Swarovski was founded in 1895 in Austria, where it opened its first store, in Wattens, in 1983. The group, currently led by the family’s fifth generation, has a global network of 3,000 stores in 170 countries, with 29,000 employees and a revenue in 2018 of approximately €2.7 billion.
The brand’s leading market is China, followed by the USA. In Europe, France leads the way, followed closely by Italy, which accounts for about 10% of Swarovski's total revenue. Behind them, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, ahead of fast-growing Spain and Portugal.
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