Amidst the array designer shops and traditional sellers at Old Spitalfields Market sits the newly opened The Dandy Lab store. The pop-up, like many of its neighbours, offers a carefully curated mix of brands to the area’s sartorially conscious consumers. Unlike its neighbours though, The Dandy Lab makes use of Internet of Everything technology in doing so. With display points that tell the stories behind the brands, smart mirrors that hand out style advice and bespoke clothing services, this little store is entirely re-shaping the worn out brick-and-mortar model.
Insight Tours: What the Future of Retail Looks Like
For so long now we’ve been hearing retailers making grand announcements about how their products are helping to shape the future. These messages can come across as a confusing meeting point of things that will happen at a yet unknown point in the future and some sort of punchy assurance that it’s already happening. “Smart dishwashers – tomorrow’s clean crockery, today” being a made up but entirely plausible case in point.
Arriving at The Dandy Lab, any misgivings about the ‘future of retail’ are soon left behind. Sure, Argos has iPads but this is so much more than a touch screen catalogue. Blue flooring, brushed steel rails and exposed wires create the immediate impression that technology is at play, smart displays by each rail glow with information about the adjacent clothing, a smart mirror sits as the centrepiece in the far corner. Here, you get the sense you’re entering into previously unchartered space and yet, despite any unintentional science fiction allusions on the part of this reviewer, it manages to avoid feeling like a spaceship. Instead, it feels like what it is, a boutique selling heritage brands – Smyth & Gibson, Alfie Douglas, CSB and Spoke to name a few – that hasn’t been afraid to try out something new.
Insight tours: The Tech Powering the Lab
Cisco’s Internet of Everything forms the backbone of the technology used by The Dandy Lab. A key partner in the project, the store stands as one of the first examples we’ve seen of IOE technology being put into practical use. An umbrella concept that describes a series of devices helping to connect ‘people, processes, data and things’, the technology plays a key role in The Dandy Lab’s immersive shopping experience. It helps tell the stories behind the brands in stock, it allows customers to create bespoke clothing alongside Spoke – a brand of tailored trousers – and it provides additional purchase options at the point of sale.
These potential item pairings are provided will the help of Snap Fashion, the smart mirrors incorporating the same technology that’s used in their popular mobile app. The mirror works in much the same way as it would for a street snapper bent on a buying the same piece of clothing as a passerby. Pick an item off the rail, try it on, snap it in front of the mirror and then choose from the pairing combinations it offers – be it matching items or clashing items.
Technology also helps monitor store footfall with the help of retail insights company Hoxton Analytics. “An intelligent, next generation people counter that helps retailers understand their customers and increasing revenue”, it uses the shoes people wear to measure the specifics of footfall like gender, group size and fashion segment (high heels, worn out trainers). The product of another fledgling UCL start-up, it works via a small unit that houses a camera and processor, which is installed low in a doorway and gathers images of customer’s footwear.
Insight tours: The Potential
Open for seven months, the store will serve as a constantly evolving project in which different technologies can be tried and tested in the retail environment. With Dandy Labs’ stylish eye and Cisco’s seemingly limitless Internet of Everything concept, we can expect a lot of exciting, tangible ideas to emerge from the store by the beginning of next year.
All images courtesy of The Dandy Lab
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