With endless talk of A.I, VR and AR developments, as well as being endlessly glued to one’s screen, it’s easy to feel that the digital age is fast rendering physical objects obsolete. Yet 93% percent of all shopping is still done in-store, and by 2025 it will still be 80%, according to research from Farfetch.
As such, today, the fashion technology giant announced its plans for the ‘Store of the Future’, a mechanism for collecting data in the offline world, and using information to allow staff to become ‘in-store influencers’. The new technology will be used to enhance the real life experience of shopping, and shape brand strategy in store on a data driven level. A dramatic shift away from traditional, sales-led metrics of success, retailers will be able to get to know their customers on a whole new level. As José Neves, Farfetch Founder, Co-Chairman and CEO commented, ‘It’s the offline cookie that closes the loop, between a great online presence and a complete omni-channel offering and, finally, in-store technology, which augments the experience of customers in store and overall.’
It may sound like a lexical riddle, but offering data-driven insight in-store means retailers will have the ultimate competitive edge – and while a statement from the brand mentioned that Store of the Future was the final piece of the ‘Farfetch Augmented Retail’ vision, one suspects this is only the beginning of how fashion and technology can merge at a more human level.
The new technology will be launched in beta mode both in Browns boutique in London and Thom Browne in New York. For the former, a bastion of innovation on London’s fashion scene since the 1970s, this represents a remarkable step into the future; Browns was acquired by Farfetch in 2015 as part of their expansive omni-channel strategy.
As well as announcing this new technology, the brand will launch their ‘Store to Door’ service in partnership with Gucci. The move comes as the Kering-owned label has sees unprecedented sales growth thanks to the genius of Creative Director Alessandro Michele, which led to a total rebrand. The new service will allow customers in 10 key cities across four continents to shop Gucci products on Farfetch and have them delivered to their destination of choice within 90 minutes. After all, these aren’t the kind of clothes one should have to wait for.
Beyond the sheer pleasure of getting Gucci when you desire it, the move shows the desire for heightened levels of personal service – luxury is increasingly about the degree that brands can tailor the shopping experience for clients, a trend that can be seen across all kinds of players in the industry.
Whether as a consumer you are excited by the idea of a human size cookie following you around the shop floor or not depends on your retail preferences, but one thing is certain. Farfetch has just plugged the biggest gap in the user journey, and we should all be watching.