Luxury fashion e-tailer Farfetch thinks it has come up with a solution that will radically change the digital in-store experience for luxury brands with its new Store of the Future (SoF) platform that will link the online and offline worlds, using data to enhance the retail experience.
While integrating digital in to the luxury retail environment isn’t a new proposition (think digital tools such as iPads, click and collect etc) Farfetch’s proposition will allow brands and boutiques to collect information about their customers while they are browsing in-store, just as they collect data from online searches.
Physical retail accounts for 93% of sales today, and even with online growing at fast speed, it will still account for 80% by 2025. To close the gap between online and offline sales, Farfetch’s solution – which is ‘modular’, meaning brand and boutique partners are able to pick and choose the elements of the offering that make most sense for their businesses – consists of customer and product recognition, a digital changing room experience and a sales associate experience.
The SoF is built around the central idea of an opt-in data-sharing concept called 'Universal log-in' via the Farfetch app, where shopper’s online browsing and in store shopping behaviors are stored to deliver a more personalised experience.
When the customer arrives in-store and uses the universal log-in, the sales associate receives a notification alerting them that a connected customer has arrived in store. The sales associate can then access insights into their recent shopping behaviour provided via their connected profile, allowing store staff to provide a more tailored, personalised and high level of service.
Farfetch is also using specialised technology (RFID and ultrasound) for the connected clothing rail, meaning any products that customers physically pick up in-store are recognised and immediately linked to their mobile device, creating an in-store wish list and product selection as they browse.
In the changing room, digital wish list displays are shown on the mirror and the customer is able to request different sizes, colours, items. Sales associates can dynamically curate recommendations for the customer based on information about that customer’s personal style, previous purchases and browsing history. Customers can purchase the items directly through the mirror.
The SoF will be introduced into department store Brown’s, in Farfetch’s own boutique in the autumn and in Thom Browne stores later in the year.
Speaking at an event to launch the BETA version of SoF, product development director Gavin Williams said that the ultimate aim of SoF is to encourage luxury brands to build on the open API and use it to their own advantage.
“Our real proposition is that we power it [SoF], we built it but what we want to say to brands is that they have their own style and their own view of what retail will look like in the future, so our view is that what you are doing with your displays, your applications, your inventory systems, the less sexy stuff we want access to that and in return we give you access to the platform that processes all that data…We are happy to provide elements of this but what we would rather do is you make the decisions in the business and we will power them,” he said.
Farfetch is steadily snapping at the heels of rival luxury ecommerce brand Yoox Net-A-Porter. It has so far raised a total of $305m, putting its valuation at $1.5bn.
Holli Rogers, chief executive at Browns, added: “Our plan is to re-establish Browns as the coolest boutique in the world. One of the most important factors in making this happen is to stay completely in tune with the ever-changing lifestyle needs of our customers and to keep pushing our product assortment and innovating.
“Deploying the digital innovations that make up 'Stores of the Future' facilitates us to take big steps toward this longer-term vision. Implementing these innovations within our stores will fundamentally allow our customers to enjoy a bespoke and effortless experience that harmonises the best parts of boutique shopping with the speed and convenience of e-tail.”