What the “store of the future” will look like is something that’s on a lot of people’s minds at the moment. The latest retailer to throw their hat in this increasingly crowded ring is Farfetch, the online fashion platform which sells stock from over 700 boutiques around the world. They have recently opened their doors to their “Store of the Future Beta” exhibition at the new Design Museum in Kensington.

Retailers have been trying to bridge the gap between online and offline shopping channels for some time now. Digital initiatives such as in-store ipads which allow shoppers to browse and order online, beacons which transmit targeted offers to mobile phones and mobile POS terminals that allow customers to transact away from the tillpoint, have variously been introduced as one-off attempts to stem the tide of people deserting bricks-and-mortar stores in favour of shopping online.

Farfetch’s Beta Store is one of the most ambitious and joined-up attempts to link these channels to date. Customers arriving at the concept store begin by checking in with their phone, which links their online and offline behaviour data to give store staff a full picture of their client.

And then throughout their visit, data is seamlessly swapped between channels. Customers can see whether items on their previously-saved Wish Lists are physically in stock, whilst RFID tags can track which products are picked up from clothing rails to save to a Wish List for later. Sales staff will spend less time looking for stock and sizes (that’s the tech’s job) so can spend more time focussing on the story of the brand. The customer receives a more fulfilling, more personalised experience and sales staff do more of what they love doing – talking about the brand.

Farfetch says they could roll this technology out to other retailers – although pricing isn’t confirmed yet. Subject to that, of course, this does seem to be one of the more game-changing in-store digital initiatives. It neatly blends online and offline behaviours to mine a much richer seam of behavioural data, to the benefit of both the retailer and the customer.

Learn more about the “Beta Store of the Future” here.


Bryony Graham