Mall of America, the largest shopping centre in the US, is from today opening up space to a seemingly improbable new retailer – McKinsey, the international management consultancy.

McKinsey is not being charged rent and does not expect to make money from the venture, which it calls Modern Retail Collective, but instead intends to use the outlet to test the effectiveness of new technologies and collect data on shopper behaviour.

According to the Financial Times, shoppers at the mall in suburban Minneapolis will be able to browse and buy from a selection of fashion and beauty brands aided by smart technologies, such as fit predictor software and smart mirrors, with cryptocurrency among the payment options.

McKinsey partner Praveen Adhi explained that retail executives often struggle to work out how to get value from all the different technologies pitched to them, so McKinsey’s main aim is to evaluate some of the new tech and its effectiveness.

“There is no real way, given the speed at which the technology and analytics is changing, to keep ahead of the trends without getting your hands dirty,” he said.

“This is a large investment for us,” he added. “The economics of the store itself don’t come close to breaking even. That’s not why we’re doing this.”

McKinsey’s first retail outlet, which also involves Microsoft and Farfetch among other technology companies who are paying a fee to take part, will host products from jeweller Kendra Scott, Elevé Cosmetics, type:A Deodorant and ThirdLove, an online lingerie brand that has only one small physical store, based in New York.

“We thought it would be a great way to learn,” said Heidi Zak, co-founder of ThirdLove. “It’s an interesting example of a consulting firm that’s trying to add value.”

“This is a first for ThirdLove – we’re excited to have that brand in the building,” added Jill Renslow, SVP of business development and marketing at Mall of America. “This allows us to build relationships with brands.”

She also told Twin Cities Business: “Consumers are the heart and soul of who we are, but as we look at the evolution of the industry, we want to support brands in testing brick and mortar. We want to learn and have data that we can share with tenants.”

Sourced from Financial Times, Twin Cities Business; additional content by WARC staff