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This Holiday, the ‘Magic of Macy’s’ is All About Facebook

The Market @ Macy’s has been around now for just less than a year, but it’s getting a major holiday facelift, the department store chain announced.

A rotating selection of brands appear in The Market, which the company said was conceived to bring emerging brands and small businesses into a limited number of highly trafficked Macy’s stores. For the year-end holiday shopping season, Macy’s is working with longtime partner Facebook to supercharge The Market and bring in roughly 100 carefully selected and highly giftable brands on a variable basis starting this week through January.

Stores in Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, San Antonio, San Francisco, Seattle and, of course, the iconic Herald Square flagship location will feature the Facebook-inspired Market offering, Macy’s said.

Today, e-commerce and social media are the launch pad where fledgling brands pinpoint an audience without much, if any, overhead. Precision targeting on sites like Facebook mean a one-man-shop can locate potential customers—no matter where on the globe they’re located. It’s a powerful way to build a relevant brand, but there’s typically a tipping point at which small businesses find they need to cross over from clicks into bricks to expand brand awareness and better engage with customers.

Apparel brands like Two Blind Brothers, a not-for-profit organization that donates proceeds from its softness-focused clothing to blindness research; and Love Your Melon, the headwear and apparel company that supports research into pediatric cancers, are among the participating brands. Visitors to The Market can also check out what Bespoke Post, the subscription box service for men, has to offer.

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The Facebook small-business pop-up seems to be an attempt by Macy’s to truly differentiate its stores during the busy holidays and attract shoppers interested in “niche-y brands,” Richard Kestenbaum, partner at Triangle Capital, told Sourcing Journal.

“The consumers that want that aren’t coming to Macy’s and this will help to draw them in and make them come back,” he added.

As with all things retail, execution can make or break a good idea, Kestenbaum continued. “Will the products be displayed in ways that invite touching and exploring? Will they be adjacent to relevant products that make consumers’ dwell time longer? Will there be sales help that understands the products and can be informative and helpful? All those things make the difference between success and failure.”

The partnership between Macy’s and  Facebook is a smart play, given the amount of valuable consumer insight and data the social media platform holds. That social media is informing in-store strategies offers clues to how retail could unfold in the future.

“Social media will play a bigger role in retail because social media will play a bigger role in everything,” Kestenbaum explained. “Consumers are learning about new products from social media, and word-of-mouth is now so often ‘word-of-media’—social media, that is. So much of how information is transmitted now is through social media that retailers will find it unavoidable.”

However, Kestenbaum questioned whether featuring a social site prominently in-store is a winning longterm strategy. “Will social media companies play a role at retail the way Facebook’s name is on the area in Macy’s? They are not merchants or curators of products. Having a social media brand on a space doesn’t feel like the most authentic way to curate a space in a department store.”

Facebook’s pop-up in The Market plays into the larger unfolding narrative around the rise of retail as a service, a trend that’s growing as small brands seek to avoid the trappings of a real estate leasing while gaining critical real-world exposure.

“I do think retail as a service, in one way or another, will be the status quo moving forward,” said Ali Kriegsman, COO of Bulletin, a startup that curates women-led emerging brands online and in three New York City stores. “Modern, online brands need a turnkey, seamless way to retail physical product. For many, getting into traditional stores is expensive, confusing, cumbersome and time-consuming.”

Kriegsman continued, “It is definitely validating for Bulletin to watch Facebook and Macy’s dabble in this space.”