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NEW YORK — "I think I came out of the womb a retailer," says Rachel Shechtman. This may seem like hyperbole, but as Shechtman comes from a family with industry experience dating back three generations, there's something to be said for those instincts really being in her blood.
In 2011, long before the words "direct-to-consumer pop-up" and "experiential retail" were in the lexicon of retail executives Shechtman engaged with a question nobody was asking: "Why can't retail be a media channel?"
Enter Story, a retail merchandising experience that redefines itself every two months, much like a new issue of a magazine. However, Story uses sponsorships — which now amount to $600,000 cheques — instead of ad space as its revenue stream.
Despite the current, bleak backdrop of the US market's retail apocalypse and struggling department stores, Story's partnering with Macy's is an exercise in optimism. Shechtman's success on launching the start-up is something she dubs "a combination of luck, timing and the quality of the idea."
But now, as an executive whose remit stretches to the wider challenge of defining Macy's retail experiences, she is doing away with the conventional industry wisdom of KPIs and bottom-line sales figures to redefine what success looks like in the retail sector. She may not have met such paradigm-shifting objectives, but, she says "not having the answer doesn't scare me, it inspires me."
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