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Stockholm proved to be a surprising little pocket of retail brilliance and independent thinking that I certainly had not been prepared for. A country rich with  700 years of history and the home of ABBA (why haven’t I been here before?) it oozes a cosmopolitan feel from the diverse, thriving club and restaurant scene to the vibrant cultural life.

With this and the blog that will follow, I invite you to explore the retail gem that is Stockholm with me, and enjoy the eclectic retailing and innovative business thinking  scattered throughout the city.

The capital of Sweden is split into three key shopping districts; the City which is home to the surprisingly innovative department store Nordiska Kompaniet, Ostermalm where all the luxury boutique and designer store preside and Soldermalm , a relaxed mix of fashion, design and second-hand clothing and accessories. With an eco/organic feel,  it is home to brands like Nudie Jeans and WERC (We are the Superlative Conspiracy). Just around every corner was something new, exciting and innovative.

When you say Sweden chances are you conjure up images of beautiful, sleek,  minimalist design, environmentally conscious innovation, IKEA (which is actually pronounce eekka) and, if you have ever visited, bicycles. There are bicycles everywhere and one innovative retailer who is storming along is BikeID. Bicycling has been the preferred form of transport in Scandanvia for over 100 years and the clever clogs at BikeID set out to create one of the purest experiences possible.

The BikeID experience has longevity at the heart of the offer, or “classic innovation” which is their motto. “Bike ID bikes are inspired by the classic and elegant design of the iconic bicycle, yet full of innovative components and materials of a contemporary bicycle brand” so says their website.

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At Bike ID you customise your bike from the best componentry which is lightweight and aesthetically delightful.  Like Tesla motors, there are a variety of ways to customise the right bike for you from a vast selection of colours, components and accessories. Assisted by the instore sales assistants, you customise your bike to your preferences at clear fixed prices and just a few days later it gets delivered right to your door. Optimising such a small retail environment, the brand is able to sell the dream of minimalist functionality perfectly and every touch point on the path to purchase is simple and seamless.

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With the vast majority of Stockholmers living in confined spaces, when the bike is propped in the hallway or bedroom it is still a thing of beauty to be admired.

Continuing on with the passion the Scandanavian’s have for the cycles is Bianchi Café & Cycles. This bustling café come bike store is a unique blend of food combined with cycling enthusiasm. Where BikeID is a retail concept of sleek simplicity and design, Bianchi is focused on performance and cycle enthusiast fashion.

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The idea for this store was spawned from the desire to create a special place where avid enthusiasts could meet, share experiences and revel in their passion over good food and drink. The café is therefore a key feature with more than 100 seats both inside and outside on the patio.

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Sup on a beer and admire the latest limited edition version of a new road model.  Walk through the store and admire photos of cycling performance. This is a lifestyle concept at its best. Bianchi Café & Cycles is actually an Italian made brand which is perfectly combining passion, style and design.

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Both of these bicycling businesses have executed a different spin on the same product category. By carving out their own unique reason for being and articulating this with elegance and focus they each demonstrate retail excellence.  One through operational sleekness, product quality and personalisation, the other through best in class product curation, deep storytelling and engagement with enthusiasts.

Next week I will explore the modern take on the shopping mall and department store through Mood and NK which both demonstrate a new twist on each retail concept and articulating a unique relevancy for the customer. They are succeeding by  “kinking their think”.

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