A tour of Farfetch's Store of the Future
Luxury platform Farfetch took that wraps off its Store of the Future at its inaugural FarfetchOS retail and fashion innovation summit in London today. The new omni-channel platform melds the world's of online and offline in a seamless manner and equips retailers with a 360-degree view of consumer behaviour from browsing online to buying in-store.
Visitors to the FarfetchOS summit, including The Industry, were taken on a tour of a Browns boutique installation at the summit's venue of the Design Museum (Farfetch owns the iconic London retailer), which demonstrated a typical customer journey using the revolutionary new platform.
However brands wishing to adopt the technology can configure it to suit their own needs (the idea is the experience will be "powered by" Farfetch not dictated by it) and the technology can be as visible or as discreet a presence in their stores as they wish.
Online browsing and in-store check-in:
The Store of the Future journey might typically begin when a customer browses a brand's website or app. All of their wish lists, past purchases and favourite items will be stored in their phone. That data can then be made accessible to a brand and its sales associate when a customer digitally "checks in" to a physical store. It's important to stress this function is global. The online browsing may have taken place in, say, New York or even on a plane, but that information will still be available if the customer checks into a store on the other side of the world.
In-store browsing and selection refinement:
Once they are in-store customers can add to their wish lists as they browse. The action of removing a item from a "connected rail" will result in that item being added to a customer's wish list. The technology will respond to certain gestures, so not every item cursorily browsed past on a rail will end up in a wish list.
Nonetheless before a customer decides they are ready to send their wish list items to the store associate for trying on, they can refine their list using a "Tinder-style" swiping movement, rejecting items they don't want to try (though these can be retrieved later if the customer changes their mind).
Trying on and further selection refinement:
Once a customer is happy with their initial product selections these items will be made ready and available for them in their size in an allocated fitting room. That fitting room can be equipped with a smart mirror, which displays a personalised message for the customer and shows them the items they have selected to try on.
It will also show them suggested additional items which have been generated based on past purchases and browsing behaviour and/or by the sales associate based on their own expertise. While in the fitting room customers can request items in different sizes/colours using the smart mirror and request to see any of the additional suggested items from the brand.
The mirror also acts as just a mirror! The data screen can be switched off and the mirror will also allow for the customer to adjust the lighting settings to try out their items in different scenarios.
Payment and delivery:
Once a customer is happy with their choices they can opt to pay using their mobile. They can send their basket of items to the sales associate who will trigger a payment request and the customer can choose the one which best suits them (be that Apple Pay, Paypal or whatever the brand wishes to offer). Alternatively if they want to pay offline they can.
In fact at any point in the journey the customer can opt in or out of using the technology as they wish. Sometimes a customer will want to spend more time with a sales associate and at others will prefer the speed of using the technology to complete their purchases.
They can also opt to take their products away with them there and then or have them delivered to their preferred destination. They can also opt to stay in touch with a sales associate by adding them to their What's App contacts to enable a personal and personalised future relationship (no more filling in a card with your personal details at the checkout only to be blanket bombed with generic emails thereafter...).
Finally the Store of the Future also offers in-store customisation technology. For those brands that want to offer a more personalised product (e.g. shoes in their own choice colours) they can offer the customer the opportunity to create it in-store and order it there and then for delivery or collection at a future date.
The demonstration at FarfetchOS was a beta version but the technology will be employed in the Browns boutique in London this autumn and at the Thom Browne flagship in New York. More information on the business model, i.e. who pays for what in the relationship between Farfetch and the brands, will be released later this year. And, as with all technology (and in particular technology coming from one of the industry's greatest innovators), it is ever evolving and packed with future potential.
But will the customer use it? As, Farfetch product development director Gavin Williams, said: "a few years ago no one could imagine getting in an unmarked car they'd ordered on their phone and getting out at the end and leaving feedback on the driver". So, that will be a yes then...