By Craig Patterson
This week, Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle brand goop launched a dedicated website allowing visitors to virtually walk through the recently opened Toronto goop MRKT pop-up store and shop for various products. It’s a strategy that could be utilized for other brick-and-mortar retailers looking to share their physical store experience with a broader range of shoppers, while adding experiential elements to ecommerce websites in an effort to drive sales.
The new shopable goop website can be accessed at: toronto.goop.com using any web browser to tour the Toronto store. The Matterport tour allows website visitors to shop online without having to scroll through pages of products on a website.
The immersive site is more experiential than a typical ecommerce site. Visitors may navigate through the three-dimensional version of the goop MRKT Toronto pop-up while shopping and engaging with digital content curated by the retailer. Purchases are said to be “frictionless and secure and occur in the same environment, as the technology integrates seamlessly with a merchant’s existing ecommerce platform.”
Visitors can learn about and buy products by ‘Clicking the G Spot’ as per instructions on the website. Another unique feature involves clicking on a video icon within the store, where Gwyneth Paltrow herself describes various products — something you wouldn’t likely get in an actual brick-and-mortar goop retail space.
The new website, which was created in partnership with Mastercard and Next Retail Concepts (NRC), is now live and will remain operational until September 22nd when the pop-up is technically scheduled to close. Staff in the Toronto goop MRKT have said that there is a possibility that its lease with landlord First Capital Realty could be extended, and it hasn’t been announced if the three-dimensional transactional website would also be extended as a result.
The actual Toronto goop MRKT retail space spans about 1,300 square feet and is located at the base of the Hazelton Hotel at 118 Yorkville Avenue. The pop-up opened in early June of this year. The store carries a range of “goop approved favourites” that include a range of clean beauty, wellness, upscale fashions, and curated home essentials.
The goop brand was founded by Ms. Paltrow in the fall of 2008 as a weekly newsletter with an aim to provide “unbiased” travel recommendations, health-centric recipes, and shopping discoveries. It grew into a lifestyle brand with six key pillars: wellness, travel, food, beauty, style, and work. A range of curated and edited “goop-approved products” were launched in Toronto as well as a developed in-house line of beauty, fashion, and wellness-focused items.
The Toronto goop MRKT was designed by Toronto-based design firm Yabu Pushelberg, which has been responsible for creating some of the world’s most dramatic retail environments. The retail space included a considerable amount of thought on the part of the designers.
“Creating the right tone for the pop-up has been an interesting process, a coming together of the psyche of what Toronto is all about with the strong personality of the goop brand,” said George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg of Yabu Pushelberg. “If the goop customer lived in Toronto, she would feel differently and live differently than the one in New York or Los Angeles. Each city and each context is unique, and that is the challenge, and the fun.”
The online Toronto goop MRKT experience is an innovative way of showcasing attractive store interiors to an audience that may otherwise not visit the actual physical store. Studies have shown that physical retail spaces are still important and can drive online sales as well, and that demographic groups such as ‘Gen Z’ like shopping in brick-and-mortar stores.
In April of 2017, Retail Insider partnered with retail consultant Warren Vandal to create a three-dimensional tour of the Off-White store on Yorkville Avenue in Toronto, which was the first permanent retail space for Virgil Abloh’s fashion brand in North America. Mr. Vandal’s Matterport technology showed the capabilities of being able to tour a retail space virtually while being able to shop for actual products carried in the store.
Virtual tours of attractive retail spaces may become more popular as the retail industry changes rapidly. Ecommerce is growing at a faster rate than physical store sales and at the same time, some brands may find it challenging to replicate the excitement of in-store experience online. The best retailers are investing heavily into their physical retail spaces, and virtual online experiences such goop’s may be another way for brands to showcase their stores while also driving sales online.
Retailers such as Holt Renfrew are spending a fortune upgrading their retail spaces, which have resulted in the creation of attractive ecosystems that help drive sales. While a Matterport tour such as goop’s may work for a smaller retail space for a period of time, it may be considerably more challenging to create a similar ecommerce experience for larger and dynamic retail spaces. Product assortments often change, for example, and in some cases new marchandising and even renovations would require continuous website tour updates, which could be both costly and time-consuming.
Now located in Toronto, Craig is a retail analyst and consultant at the Retail Council of Canada. He's also the Director of Applied Research at the University of Alberta School of Retailing in Edmonton. He has studied the Canadian retail landscape for the past 25 years and he holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws Degrees. He is also President & CEO of Vancouver-based Retail Insider Media Ltd. Email Craig: email@example.com