The Future of Retail

The retail industry is getting more and more innovative with the usage of technology.  I have put together an interesting list of brands that are ahead of the curve and are pushing the envelope in the retail space.

BaubleBar

BaubleBar has set up a pop-up shop replete with digital touchscreens and interactive displays. Shoppers can use in-store iPads to design and purchase jewelry personalized with their initials and other permutations. Interactive store displays use projections and sensors to serve up content when shoppers pick up individual pieces of jewelry on display. Visitors will also be encouraged to upload photos of themselves to the web.

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Saturday by Kate Space

Kate Spade is exploring new retail concepts with “Saturday,” its recently launched “weekender” line. Currently, the brand doesn’t have a physical retail store but only a popup display board in Soho, New York.  Customers can browse and purchase goods from the line after looking at the display window.  Orders will be delivered free by courier service within one hour in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn. Couriers will even wait while customers try on the clothes they’ve ordered, and only take payment (via PayPal) for the items they decide to keep.

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Holition

Holition is an Augmented Reality tool that work with brands to integrate AG to consumers’ shopping experience.  They have worked with many luxury brands such as De Beers.  They allow users to “try on” jewelry online with augmented reality.

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Fancy

Social shopping startup Fancy is hopping on the bandwagon with its “Fancy Color Search” service for Google Glass.  Users first take a picture with Glass and share it to Fancy to discover products with matching colors.

Why I’m curious:

It’s been interesting to see how technology is influencing retailers.  On one hand, there are brands that are utilizing tools like iPads and integrated screens to enhance the consumers’ shopping experience.  On the other hand, there are retailers that started their businesses online and are bringing the online experience to a brick and motar store.

No matter how retailers got their start, the important aspect to focus on is seamless integration between the on and offline experience.

As Doug has mentioned in the Town hall, the success of Mr. Porter is reliant on their understanding of their target audience and their activity off and online.  I think that Kate Spade Saturday is off with a great start where they launch as an online-only store, but consumers still get the benefit of seeing the physical products in their pop up window.  They also focus on service as users can instantly try on clothes and return them to the courtiers after they are delivered.

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