Inside the Retail Store of the Future

Online retailer Farfetch is bringing technology to the shop floor to blend internet and in-store experiences.

Glimpse the Store of the Future

As high-end shoppers become increasingly mobile and connected, luxury retailers are testing new technologies that promise a more seamless experience between the physical and online worlds.

At a “Store of the Future” event at London’s Design Museum, the luxury e-commerce platform Farfetch showed off connected clothing racks, touch-screen-enhanced mirrors and sign-in stations that could help put data collected from customers online to use in stores, as well as harvesting material gathered during store visits to ease later orders on the web.

“How do you capture all of that fantastic information you gather in stores where customers touch and feel products?” asked Gavin Williams, head of product development at Farfetch.

Farfetch showed a scanner for customers to “log in” with their smartphones when they enter a store, allowing sales assistants to view customers’ profiles, including what items they may have previously bought or saved to a wish list online.

The connected clothing rack records items customers pick up, storing them in a smartphone app where they can later swipe left or swipe right to edit selections. The smart mirror allows shoppers to request items in another size, browse online alternatives and even pay without leaving the dressing room.

The company also showed off a holographic display that enables customers to create and order custom shoes -- experimenting with different leathers, skins and colors -- from the brand Nicholas Kirkwood.

Created in 2008 as an e-commerce portal for luxury boutiques, Farfetch has increasingly positioned itself as a technology provider. In March, it launched the e-commerce portal for high-end shoe designer Manolo Blahnik, pushing into a space where competitor Yoox Net-A-Porter Group SpA has been a leader.

The company has also announced that it was working with Kering-owned Gucci to provide 90-minute express deliveries of the brand in 10 cities. 

Farfetch will roll out the suite of technologies later this year at the boutique Browns in London, which the company purchased in 2015, and at the flagship store for designer Thom Browne in New York.

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