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4 visions for the future of retail

By | Sara Brown |

Michaels, the arts and crafts chain, used to have employees teach art classes at some of the company’s stores. Looking to scale this program, Michaels built a marketplace for arts and crafts classes taught by local teachers, with the teachers setting their own prices and creating their own content, and aggregated this information on a platform. Art students signed up for classes, and also bought supplies at the stores.

“Most importantly, these are a million art students and 20,000 art teachers who become part of this community, and Michaels gets all of that data,” said Jonathan Yaffe, founder and CEO of Any Road, an experience management company that counts Michaels among its customers. “By using this concept of a marketplace, you could actually scale these experiential programs much better, own all of that data, and really create that community you want to create.”

Michaels is embracing the next generation of retail — focusing on experiences and platforms and rethinking what stores look like and are used for, according to Yaffe and other experts who spoke at the recent MIT Platform Strategy summit.

These trends put valuable data in the hands of brands and retail companies. And combined with Web3 and the metaverse, which are also on the horizon, they are changing how companies connect with customers and create brand loyalty.  

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