B8ta just opened their first store in Austin on Saturday. And it was interesting. They worked hard to create a warm, modern environment. Every product has an iPad next to it showing product details, pricing, and other information.? Each product is presented simply: just one out on display.? There are products from a variety of different companies on display - with some competing and some unique.
You could sum up the approach simply:
Create an Apple Store for Everyone Else
Most of the products represented in B8ta wouldn't warrant their own Apple Store experience. But B8ta provides that Apple-like experience for them.? The staff wore black t-shirts proclaiming that they were "Bringing the Tech to Texas"
The opening was covered in Austin's Culture Map:
While customers get the obvious benefit of being able to play with products, there are also perks for tech companies. B8ta offers a "retail-as-service model," which makes "brick-and-mortar stores accessible to any maker," Raub explains.
"Instead of buying thousands of units, marking up prices, and displaying products inequitably, we offer a straightforward subscription service. In exchange for a monthly fee, makers get access to their own flagship stores."
It's pretty ingenious really.? Not unlike what Department stores offered on a much larger scale for clothes a long time ago - great customer service (and scale) for products that otherwise wouldn't have it.? As for how they chose Austin and the Northside Domain?
"As we thought about expansion, we wanted to open our next store in a community that shares similar values. Once we set our sights on Austin, we learned that the Domain was expanding and was attracting great brands like Stag, Warby Parker, Filson, and others. At that point, we were all in," says Philip Raub, co-founder and CMO.
It was a nice experience. When the Apple Store moves nearby in a few months, you'll be able to walk from the glass-white-and-light-wood decor of the Apple store to the more rustic wood and warmer tones of the B8ta store.? With lots of shopping inbetween, including a Sprinkles store and an incoming Starbucks Reserve.
Given the many announcements of the death of retail, it is amazing how the Domain is bucking all the trends these last 10 years.