A month after acquiring experiential retail concept shop Story, Macy’s is investing in another innovative retail industry player. The department store acquired a minority stake in b8ta, a “store-as-a-service” concept that enables shoppers to try new tech products before they buy. Additionally, b8ta is designed to collect data about consumers’ behavior while they shop. Macy’s has not disclosed the amount of the investment.
The department store will leverage b8ta to scale up The Market @ Macy’s pop-up concept more quickly, according to a statement from Hal Lawton, President at Macy’s. Launched in February 2018, The Market @ Macy’s, currently open at 10 U.S. Macy’s locations nationwide, is designed to help emerging and established brands reach new audiences. Each shop brings customers a rotating selection of offerings in apparel, accessories, beauty, entertainment, experiences, decorative home, stationery, technology and gifts.
It’s too early to determine whether The Market @ Macy’s shoppers are spending elsewhere in the store, said Marc Mastronardi, EVP of Business Development at Macy’s in an interview with CNBC. Mastronardi noted that the pop-up concept is creating an “overall halo” for the store’s shopping experience.
Over the next year, The Market @ Macy’s will test different sized spaces powered by b8ta technology and will expand the size of some of the existing pilot locations. Additionally, Macy’s wants to leverage b8ta’s ability to manage the rotating brands and experiences; attract new products in the home and consumer electronics space; and potentially bring new product categories into select Macy’s stores.
B8ta already has a presence in more than 80 stores, including connected home experiences in 70+ Lowe’s locations. The Lowe’s stores feature a curated selection of 60+ smart home products including security systems, thermostats, cameras, lighting and speakers from Google, Sonos, GE, Nest, Iris, Samsung and Ring. The stores-within-stores offer consumers on-site support from specially trained experts known as “b8ta testers.”