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Switzerland-based Swatch Group has decided that it is time for a new retail approach.

Bloomberg reports that the company - which shook up the Swiss watch world years ago by creating an affordable, fashion-forward brand - “is setting up a drive-through store where it will sell products from its namesake label packed in burger boxes and brown paper bags.”

The store will be next to the company’s headquarters in Biel, Switzerland, but “while Swatch plans just one drive-through site in the out-of-the-way city for now, the move shows how the brand is trying to inject novelty into the buying process. After years of insisting that customers prefer the boutique experience before splurging, Swiss watchmakers have been revamping retail networks as consumers increasingly search for and buy products online.”

One thing that has been changing: “Companies have … been cutting out middlemen, focusing more on their own stores and keeping a bigger part of the profit for themselves.”
KC's View:
Really interesting approach by Swatch, pushing the limits on what it thinks may be possible and what shoppers will accept. It may not work, but if it does … it will have pushed retailing forward a bit.

Also, I’m intrigued by the whole “disintermediate the middlemen” strategy, about which I think a lot of retailers in a lot of categories ought to be concerned. If retailers are not perceived by consumers and suppliers as bringing something important - even critical - to the table, then I don’t think they will; end up having much of a shelf life.

There are just too many ways to go around them.