What is a concept store? What makes a good concept store?

What is a concept store?  A concept store is an innovative and new type of retail store concept, but it is not well known.

Store owners are becoming more and more pressured to create a unique shopping experience that isn’t found in most stores. 

Read more information below to have an overview of the definition, the steps to start, what makes a good concept store, and find your answer.

What is a concept store?

A concept store is a retail store that sells goods, services, and ideas. They are usually more like showrooms than traditional retail outlets.

It typically showcases upscale, fashion-forward brands or emerging designers and offers a more limited product selection compared with the wider offerings of traditional department stores. Most often, concept stores are only one segment of a larger corporation.

Concept stores can be full line or category-specific in nature. This means that they carry a large selection of items in one category. It is a store that offers multiple products from different brands, for instance, Nike and Adidas. It can also be a store that sells products from different categories such as home furnishing, clothes, and cosmetics.

What is a concept store?
What is a concept store?

The history of Concept stores

“In the 1980s, concept stores such as A.P.C., 10 Corso Como, and Colette were established in Paris, New York, and Tokyo. Their business model was based on a boutique-like atmosphere, a relatively small sales area, and did not only focus on the sales of fashion-related goods alone. A concept store was created as a space in which, next to the sale of fashion-related goods, art installations could be exhibited or events held. These early concept stores have become an inspiration for the generation of concept stores that have emerged in recent years. For instance, the 21er Haus in Vienna, which was established in 2001 by a group of young Austrian designers, counts as an example of this.” [2]

How does a concept store work?

A concept store is a modern retail outlet that offers one type of product or service, these kinds of stores are often called boutique retailers. Concept stores have more than just products, they often feature product demonstrations and services. For example, concept stores may offer haircuts or spa treatments as part of the range of products available.

The concept store does not have a specific location, it can be found in multiple locations as long as the company owns those locations. The concept store is targeted at a specific audience, using the location as a way to attract that type of customer. Example: Opening a concept store in a local mall attracts the local residents.

Concept stores are visited by customers based on their brand values, not just product availability. If they know what they are looking for, customers can purchase online instead of visiting.

The concept store uses its method to stand out from traditional retailers in the area. The business model of the concept store is to sign long-term leases and expand quickly. There are no set hours for a concept store, it is open when the customers are available to visit.

The steps to start a concept store

Opening a concept store, no matter what type of store it is has the potential to be difficult and full of challenges. Make sure you are at least aware of the following steps before opening a concept store

Assess your situation

Do you have enough money, knowledge, or time? These are questions you need to ask yourself before attempting to start your concept store. 

Have you done enough research on what kind of business is right for you? Do you have enough money that you won’t have to worry about your money disappearing upon opening a shop? What products, brands, and target customers will your concept store showcase? Which partner will you need to cooperate with? And the difficulties you might encounter?

Before starting your concept store Answer this question to clarify your idea, business goals, target customers, and industry future.

Know your subject.

Your concept store must have a distinct theme that distinguishes it from a typical high-street retailer.

Determine ownership.

Even with a temporary store location, it’s critical to determine ownership right from the start.

You’ll also need to think about how the rent will be structured. Will it be a set charge for everyone? Or will it be proportionate to how much each brand earns in the pop-up space? Will every brand contribute to the store’s staffing?

Understanding the role of each brand in the concept store will help to avoid any misunderstandings later on.

Plan the space.

Designing store space is an important part that requires the most creativity. This is also the most interesting, but also the most challenging part to make your concept store stand out and be different from other stores.  An impressive design will attract customers, and they will visit your store frequently.

Make sure your area incorporates your branding and that you convey your layout plans. This will eliminate the possibility of future misunderstandings. To keep your temporary retail space exciting, consider changing the arrangement of your pop-up shop every now and again.

Organize a sequence of events.

Brands can be promoted and elevated through events. Organizing activities in your pop-up shop will help to bring this community together.

Public relations launches, events, and product demonstrations are all possibilities. This is a good way to connect with the customer, let new customers approach your brand, and give old customers a reason to return.

The best concept stores

The Nike House of Innovation, Paris.

The Nike House of Innovation, Paris.
The Nike House of Innovation, Paris.

This is Nike’s third House of Innovation, located on the Champs-Élysées in the center of Paris. It mixes magnificent merchandising with immersive, one-of-a-kind experiences, and it all comes together thanks to cutting-edge digital technology.

This store is powered by renewable energy from floor to ceiling and is made entirely of sustainable materials, both of which reflect Nike’s dedication to reducing its carbon footprint and appeal to an ever-increasing number of environmentally concerned customers.


The Bullring shopping center in Birmingham was home to Volkswagen’s first concept store. Dalziel & Pow created the concept, which relied largely on lighting. Lightboxes hung from the ceiling and illuminated graphic displays were carefully placed around the automobiles to brighten the store’s main point and demonstrate the Volkswagen’s quality to passers-by.

Volkswagen concept store
Volkswagen concept store

The story, New York

Story bills itself as a location that “takes the perspective of a magazine, alters like a gallery and sells items like a store,” according to its website.

Every month or so, this New York boutique reinvents itself with a new concept. This influences the space’s design, as well as what’s on sale and what events are scheduled for that month.

The themes are created in collaboration with brand or designer partners, with Pepsi and General Electric among previous collaborators.

The story, New York
The story, New York


What is the role of the concept store in today’s society?

“There is a wide range of possibilities, in which a concept store can be involved in today’s society. Firstly, the concept store has become an important source of information and inspiration for its visitors. Secondly, it can influence consumer behavior and raise awareness of topics such as nature conservation or social-political issues. Thirdly, a concept store can be an experimental platform for young designers and artists. For instance, the 21er Haus in Vienna has been organizing exhibitions for young, emerging designers since 2001. This platform has thus contributed to the success of these designers on an international level.” [2]

What makes a good concept store?

“A successful concept store is a commercial space that operates in accordance with the ideas and concepts of an artistic or fashion-related idea.” [1]

In order to be a successful concept store, you need merchandise that is unique and differentiated from the competition.  This distinguishes your store from the larger retail landscape and creates a special shopping experience for your customer.

In the past, uniqueness was once attained by designing custom products that were unique to the retailer. However, with the advent of modern technology, this is no longer required.  Today, with 3D printing and rapid prototyping technology, the ability to build custom designs no longer requires a commitment of capital or time.

Retailers are able to obtain unique designs with a little bit of imagination and the right technology. No longer do retailers have to settle for what is available on the open market or in catalogs. The era of mass-produced or standardized retail products is over, and retailers today have the ability to obtain a competitive advantage through customization.

The future of concept store

The current commercial and social environment is changing. We’re in the age of global capitalism, where brands compete on a global scale for customers, and people are mostly spending their money online, which created a whole new industry of internet marketing.       

In the technology world, there have been some new trends which are changing the way people shop. In the future, concept stores will focus on customer experience, giving customers a new, modern approach, integrated by technology.

One is called responsive design. Every time you go to a website it adapts its design to your screen size. So if you have a big computer monitor it displays things compressed, but still readable and nice looking. If you have a phone that adapts the design and text size screens that are comparable to an iPhone, the website displays in full width and looks very good.

A concept store is an outlet that has a specific theme, like all things related to kittens. These stores are designed for people with very specific tastes and interests. If you want to open your own type of store in the future, make sure it’s something unique!


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