Much more than a store, The Latest is a place where customers can find the latest innovations on a testing ground for the latest products from starts-up and internationally renowned brands alike. Here, RLI sits down with Co-Founder Dhi Matiole Nunes to talk about the origins of the company and what makes it
Rooted in technology, design, lifestyle, health and more, The Latest gives forward-thinking entrepreneurs the opportunity to bring their product innovations to market.
Designed between Co-Founder Dhi Matiole Nunes, a team of more than 20 experts from various backgrounds and AVANTGARDE CEO Martin Schnaack, The Latest is part of AVANTGARDE, a leading global brand experience company that supports innovative brands, start-ups and companies with a novel retail platform.
The concept behind The Latest really is a unique one. Retailers pay the brand a set figure each month, and in return their products are included within The Latest’s retail space, sold through The Latest’s team members who have been trained in the story and background of each product, and how to use it, from that company’s own team, marketed online and on OoH Campaigns on the hottest spots in the city through The Latest and on top of all that, 100 per cent of the revenue goes back to the retailer.
Despite the restrictions of Covid-19, The Latest unveiled to the world their very first retail space on 19 November last year, opening a 250sq m flagship site on Ku’Damm 38 in 10719 Berlin. This space is positioned on one of the most famous retail streets in Berlin amongst such brands as Gucci, Prada, Tommy Hilfiger and Apple, creating an eclectic mix of passers-by for the space.
“We knew we were taking a big risk by opening this store, especially as it turned out to be one month before a new lockdown came into effect and in winter as well,” explains Dhi Matiole Nunes, Co-Founder of The Latest. “However, we pushed ahead because we are firm believers in our concept and that this idea can and will be the future of retail.”
Following the latest set of lockdowns, the store reopened last month and the company have been busy incorporating new initiatives to drive traction at a time when tourism, a trademark of Berlin retail, has been severely hit by Covid-19 restrictions.
One of the things they have implemented for summer is the installation of the first digital beer draft machine in cooperation with BROY in Berlin. So a customer can simply come in with a QR code, scan this and then begin pouring their own beer and pay for it per millilitre poured. Beer is a big part of the culture in Germany so this is just one example of what the brand is doing to entice customers into the store.
With the store in Germany launching nine months ago now, thoughts have inevitably begun to turn to where they would like to go next, and Nunes says that the UK is the next spot they would like to set-up shop in.
“In the short term we would like to expand to the UK definitely, in fact I already have a team working and searching for the best site in the UK, speaking with landlords this sort of thing. AVANTGARDE has some sites in the UK so it is a market we already know well and we are excited to launch a store here in the future.”
Longer term, the company doesn’t want to be opening 200 to 300 stores just for the sake of expansion, instead they are targeting a limited number of stores in key retail markets around the globe in sites such as New York, Tokyo, Sao Paulo and Shanghai.
“We want to open stores in locations that will reach the most people, make The Latest a world platform for product launches, and help sell the idea of The Latest and explain the added value of what we offer. So in the next two to three years we will focus on opening locations in the biggest metropolises around the world,” says Nunes.
The Latest is a platform for brands to present the newest products, whether that brand is a start-up or globally renowned. For example, Harley Davidson, together with its Start-up Serial 1 Cycles, has brought to market electric bikes and The Latest was the first store in Germany to have the bikes on show.
Each product in the store has its own space and its own story and with the focus being on the customer and offering them a great experience with each product with knowledgeable staff, it is this mix that Nunes feels makes The Latest stand out from the crowd of retail stores and what will help it become the store of the future.
When looking to the future of the company, Nunes feels that obviously Covid-19 is still going to be a challenge to overcome, whether this is in the form of more lockdowns in Germany or in reduced customer numbers because of restrictions. The other is the cost of opening stores and attempting to explain the concept of The Latest to a global audience.
“We are a place for a community of people that are looking for the newest products and what we offer is the chance for people to come to our store, to have a great experience and try and test and touch all these products with interaction with our well-trained staff, and then if they decide to purchase the product all of the revenue goes back to the retailer, that is what we are here to facilitate and we look forward to growing the concept in the coming years,” concludes Nunes.