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Exclusive look inside: H&M's revamped retail concept


Stockholm – H&M 4.0. It is no secret that H&M has been taking a closer
look at new retail concepts in recent years. The Swedish chain is looking
for the answer to the same question many other brands and retailers in
today’s market: How do we remain relevant, while also providing convenience
customers? That is why H&M’s store concepts have taken on a new form. There
was the British Hammersmith store, the German Mitte Garten store and now
the Sergel store in Stockholm. H&M’s store is developing, although in this
respect it can be better referred to as “fine tuning”. At first glance, the
renovated shop in the Swedish city does not seem drastically different.
However, opinions adjust as people dive deeper into the shop and discover
the new design and the various services. FashionUnited was invited to
Stockholm and was given a tour of the building two days before the
opening.

It was made clear that H&M was moving away from the ‘white box’ store
design when images of the Hammersmith flagship were shared last year. The
atmosphere was warm and intimate, thanks in part to the soft beige tones
and the number of plants that gave the concept more life. If the
Hammersmith store was a test subject for the makeover it seems that it was
successful looking at the store in Stockholm. Throughout the store, soft
tones have been used: in men’s fashion tones are darker and go more towards
grey, and in women’s fashion, it is a lighter shade. “The entire shop is
modular so that the interior can be changed at any time. This helps the
sustainable character of the store,” says Pascal Brun, head of
sustainability, during the tour. This store should be the forerunner in the
field of circularity at H&M. Everything was developed with the idea that
the interior should last as long as possible, but remain relevant. LED
lamps are used throughout the store and the energy used is renewable. “This
means that no fossil fuels are used to generate the energy,” Brun explains
when asked.

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Exclusive look inside: H&M's revamped retail conceptExclusive look inside: H&M's revamped retail conceptExclusive look inside: H&M's revamped retail conceptExclusive look inside: H&M's revamped retail concept

In pictures: How H&M continues to develop the shopping experience

In addition to the interior, which has visibly changed from the standard
H&M store, it offers services not available in most of the other retail
locations. What cannot go without mentioning is the new rental service
offered in the same building. The service desk is located on the second
floor, to the right of the escalators and next to the fitting room. Not
only can orders be picked up there online, but this is also the place where
you can book a time slot to make use of the rental service.

Here, a personal stylist helps customers to pick out a dress or skirt
(because the service is being tested they are currently only renting these
two types of fashion). Renting a garment costs 350 kronar, 28.50 GBP (36
US dollars). A garment can be rented for a week and are allowed up to three
pieces at a time. “This is the future,” says Maria Östblom head of design
in womanswear at the brand. “Some things people will always buy, but a part
they will rent.” For the test with the rental service, it was decided to
use pieces from the Conscious Exclusive collection. These are items with a
higher price, ‘which are bought for one occasion and then remain in the
closet,’ says Brun. “These items have the biggest impact on our CO2
emissions because they are only worn once.” In addition to the items from
the Conscious Exclusive collection, there will also be a ‘drop’ every six
months of items specially designed for the rental service. The designs are
all inspired by the previous Conscious Exclusive collections. Brun doesn’t
rule out the possibility of adding other items at a later stage, suits for
men come to his mind first because he doesn’t often wear a suit himself. He
quickly adds that the next category added will be accessories. The decision
to add other items to the rental range will only be finalized after the
first period of the test has been completed in about three months.

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Exclusive look inside: H&M's revamped retail conceptExclusive look inside: H&M's revamped retail concept

Clothing rental service H&M debuts in refurbished store in
Stockholm

Not entirely new, but still worth mentioning is the repair and remake
service that can be found on the third floor of the building. Tests with
this service have already taken place in 17 shops. In the Netherlands, for
example, H&M already offers a ‘Take Care service’, but not yet a repair
service like in other countries. Online, the brand provides tips and hacks
to take care of and restore garments. Each country has its own preferences
for the service, says Brun. In France they love customization, in Sweden a
lot of repairs are done and in the Netherlands they love to turn old
garments into another item.

The specialty beauty bar, located on the second floor, will open earlier
than the rest of the store, at half past seven in the morning. Customers
are now able to go to the beauty bar before they heading off to work. The
garments offered on the same floor are of course for sale, so for anyone
with a clothing crisis in the morning will have a solution. In the special
beauty area, people can have their nails, hair or make-up done. Or all
the above.
It’s also possible to have a face mask at the bar. The
beauty bar is also open later in the evening so that people can get a
touch-up for a date, for example, as mentioned in the tour. The decor of
the area sets it apart from the rest of the store. Giving off
Instagram-worthy vibes with pink chairs and various floral arrangements
that decorate the ceiling.

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Exclusive look inside: H&M's revamped retail conceptExclusive look inside: H&M's revamped retail concept

Other services at the new-and-improved H&M are Scan & Buy, the option to
pay afterwards, and a coffee bar that can be found at the entrance of the
shop. Scan & buy has been possible at all H&M’s global stores for some
time, but the chain has chosen to give the concept some extra space in the
Stockholm store. Menswear, for example, has a dedicated area created with
exclusive pieces that do not always have all the colours or sizes in the
store. By scanning the tag of the item it is easy to order online where
more options are possible. H&M also uses in-store self-checkout cash
registers where shoppers can even choose to pay afterwards. This option is
linked to the H&M app, so that customers are recognised and the invoices
sent at a later time. The outstanding amount must be paid within 30
days.

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Exclusive look inside: H&M's revamped retail conceptExclusive look inside: H&M's revamped retail concept

Stockholm’s refurbished service-packed H&M store

During the tour Brun answers the question: Will H&M is ever going to
stop testing new services and concepts? Brun answers with a simple “no”.
It’s about incorporating local and being as relevant as possible. The
content of the 3,000 square metre store on the Drottninggatan has been
curated so that it fits in perfectly with the customer walking down this
specific busy shopping street. “The public here is much wider than, for
example, at the Mitte Garten store in Berlin,” says Maria Östblom. “The
shop is located there in a creative area, where everyone comes along.” Head
of business development, Daniel Claesson, adds that the area sees a lot of
people in a hurry each morning on their way to work. The fact that the
store is now open at 7:30 AM means that customers can still enjoy the
services at the last minute and buy something before they go to work.

After the tour of the shop, the amount of information is dizzying. It is
clear that H&M, which has its head office two buildings away from the
Drottninggatan store, remains committed to being as relevant as possible to
a specific customer. The Swedish chain has plans to scale up various
services in other countries, but where and when is not mentioned. The
company does reveal, however, that next year the H&M store on the iconic
Dam Square in Amsterdam will be overhauled. Perhaps an H&M 5.0? Let’s
see.

This article was originally published on FashionUnited.NL,
translated and edited.

Photos courtesy of H&M



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