Retail’s Technology-Driven Retail Experience

There are many things that jump out at the shopper at the new location in London’s Mayfair. The space has been described as a “store-come-house-come-school-come-gallery” by reviewers who have raved that the new store could be “a blueprint for the future of fashion.” The location features personal shopping suites, custom scented air, comfortable furniture and tasteful art. There’s also a cafe, a small garden and free seminars teaching flower arranging and cooking. The 7,000-square-foot space also features “What’s On,” a system that allows customers to experience the physical store’s events through livestreams and podcasts.

“Our mission is to create the most personal luxury shopping experience in the world, so we wanted an environment where we could initiate conversations with our customers and create a global sense of community enabled through the power of technology,” CEO Ulric Jerome said.

Personalization, and stellar logistics to support it, are the backbone of the experience. While consumers can view fashion installations where clothes are displayed as though they are art pieces — a Prada display is currently on offer, as is a new capsule collection from Marine Serre — the store itself doesn’t actually carry all that much merchandise.

Instead, the store’s items function more as a starting point for consumers. Using their phones, customers can scan items of interest with their app and see a whole collection of items that can be chosen and sent to the store location within 90 minutes. Though that’s not a very long wait, the Mayfair location isn’t built around immediacy. The brand wants customers to stop and smell the candles, and have built a retail experience that forces them to do so, while still offering up their goods on demand.

The physical store is not an entirely unique experience. Unlike its competitors in the field like Net-a-Porter, physical retail has always been part of the firm’s blueprint. The small boutiques of the past have been portals to lead customers to the larger web experience — the new full-scale experiential store is a different type of offering for the brand altogether.

Jerome, in an interview noted that this offering is necessary for the business

“We do this mostly because this is what we hear our customers telling us they want. They love the ease and speed of the internet, they want to have that channel. But that is not always what they want. They are looking to purchase — but they are also hungry for newer ways to shop.”

And while the physical experience of the store is romantic and relaxed on the front end, on the back end, technological investment looms large and busy. Guests check-in upon arrival via the brand’s app, so the staff can get a snapshot of a customer’s shopping history and preferences. The data, Jerome notes, is not for public consumption and remains between the consumer and their personal shopper. It’s there so that while customers are in the store, the staff can provide them with suggestions and help that are relevant and useful.

For those who are not comfortable being so exposed, they are welcome to shop without logging in. Anonymous browsing is certainly allowed, if not highly recommended. What customers want isn’t just another touchpoint — there are almost endless options in that regard. If speed and efficiency is the goal, the web will always be the winning approach.

But offering consumers something more and different than they can experience shopping digitally — or shopping anyplace else for that matter — is a reason to go to the store, which might open customers up to new experiences and goods they might not have considered on a faster, more focused trip.

“Our vision of retail offers inclusive events that customers can sign up to attend or watch live and discover content generated to inspire them,” Jerome said. “The events at 5 Carlos Place cover all elements of luxury and culture. It’s exciting that this space will be used to create experiences that will resonate with all of our customers, wherever they are globally.”


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The Future Of Unattended Retail Report: Vending As The New Contextual Commerce, a PYMNTS and USA Technologies collaboration, details the findings from a survey of 2,325 U.S. consumers about their experiences with shopping via unattended retail channels and their interest in using them going forward.