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Tech-infused b8ta launches new store concept

b8ta is expanding its retail business beyond electronics and tech devices.

The company, best known for its multi-branded tech stores and “retail as a service” platform, is launching a fashion and lifestyle concept called Forum. The first Forum location will open on Nov. 15, on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles. Additional locations will be announced in 2020.

The new format is described as “a social marketplace, built for community, connection and discovery.” It will feature women’s athleisure brand ALALA as its first anchor partner, as well as a rotating selection of products from more than 25 brands across a range of fashion and lifestyle categories.  

“Generally, anchor partners will receive a greater share of space inside of a Forum store, and be featured for a longer period of time than the rotating brands,” explained Phillip Raub, co-founder and president of b8ta. “We do plan to bring on additional anchor partners that fit with Forum’s ethos.”

The brand partners will design their own space inside Forum and have creative control to curate such experiences as product launches and community, influencer and VIP events that bring their brand ethos to life. B8ta will use the same model at Forum that it pioneered with its namesake flagships: Participating brands will keep 100% of sales and be charged a monthly subscription fee, with the fee determined by square footage and services.

The merchandise assortment at Forum will include men’s and women’s clothing and other goods from brands that prioritize quality, design and sustainability, with a particular focus on ethical and sustainable brands.  All Forum stores will also feature local designers and host events to support the local creative community.  

Store highlights will include an innovative dressing room experience for shoppers and brands. Using RFID technology, brands will be able to adjust the dressing rooms’ backdrop to reflect their particular aesthetic, convey brand ethos, and encourage social media sharing. Customers will be able to read about the brand and products, as well as request different colors and sizes through the in-room digital display.

“From its inception, b8ta has emphasized the need for great experiences for our partners and our guests,” said Raub. “It’s now time to translate four years of learning into the fashion and lifestyle space. Shopping for clothes, accessories and other day-to-day items has traditionally been very social — a way to spend time with friends, or have help picking out a new outfit. Today, social experiences look very different, which is why we wanted to create a new experience tailored to today’s consumer who seeks real-life connections and social engagement with brands that share similar values.”

As with any b8ta flagship, Forum will provide brands with the ability to test new markets, new products, brand messaging and product pricing. The stores will leverage b8ta’s retail-as-a-service platform, which will deliver insights to brand partners on in-store engagement, share such metrics as impression count of guests that walk by their display, time spent browsing, and how often a piece goes into the dressing room.

“We’re working with like-minded brands to help them stand out in the crowd by bringing them together, and providing them with tools to tell their story in a whole new way,” said Joshua Adam Brueckner, partnerships manager for Forum. “Forum works with brands to help them not only learn key information about their end-buyer, but to forge lasting relationships and strengthen brand loyalty. Forum is the new wave of retail.”

Founded in 2015, b8ta operates 18 branded flagship stores throughout the U.S. It also partners with hundreds of brands and retailers, including Macy’s, to power their physical retail experience using the company’s proprietary software platform.

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