Stories

The Instagramification of retail

Suitcase display
Away's store in NYC. Photo via Away on Twitter.

The big upside to brick-and-mortar shopping has always been instant gratification — you buy and take your stuff home immediately. But now retail startups are hard at work developing another perk: "Instagramification."

The big picture: New retailers are making sure millennials and Gen Zers have a reason to come into their stores — with state-of-the-art interior design as a backdrop to artsy Instagram posts.

New features showing up in hip stores around New York City and Los Angeles include brightly painted walls with catchy slogans and photoshoot-ready nooks decorated with props. A not-incidental added plus: Social posts are free advertising.

What we're seeing: The trend is common among companies that were digital first and got into brick-and-mortar second. They sit in stark contrast to the flickering fluorescents and tired beige stucco of old-school retailers.

  • Away, a luggage startup founded in 2015, now has five stores and several celebrity partnerships. It sees its stores as “profitable billboards," co-founder Jen Rubio said at Recode's Code Commerce conference in New York this week. Rubio said Away judges the success of its stores by how many Instagram posts they inspire.
  • Warby Parker, which also started online, collaborates with artists to outfit its stores with custom murals. Its sunglasses are organized by color. Both are perfect Insta backgrounds.
  • Melody Ehsani, a jewelry maker, does something similar in her stores, with neon signs and painted angel wings on walls that you can step into for a picture-perfect moment.

Go deeper: Your Entire City Is an Instagram Playground Now (CityLab)