Pioneering London’s Retail Ecosystem

Written by Peter Jeun Ho Tsang
The Dandy Lab powered by University College London
Pop Up Concept Shop: July 2015 – February 2016

white-paper-coverThe Dandy Lab was an interactive men’s lifestyle shop. It curated and sold British brands and told stories like a real-life magazine.

The culmination of a 6 month’s worth of testing within a live-trading retail lab, myself and the team were able to support some of the UK’s newest design and technology talent; figuring out what the future of retail may look like. The shop was based at 73 Brushfield Street in London’s iconic Old Spitalfields Market and was part British fashion shop and part retail lab testing cutting edge technologies.

We’ve just released a white paper outlining the technologies and retail models that The Dandy Lab and its supporting partners explored and the key insights achieved. You can download the full report from our website, but in case you don’t have time to read the full thing then here’s a snapshot of what we learnt.

Here Are My Top 5 Takeaways:

1. The Retail Lab: TheDandyLab was designed to offer a low risk, low cost and high value testing facility for technology start-ups. Following the learnings and iterations from 6 months of live testing 30% of technology solutions trialled in-store are now ready to be rolled out into larger retail environments. The lab demonstrated the value in providing a space where innovation from companies such as Cisco can happen without the constraints of existing retail legacy systems.

2. Overcoming The Innovation Fear Factor: From the scores of retailers we engaged with 83% identified a greater need to innovate, iterate and integrate digital into their physical retail strategies, especially with the rise of the tech-savvy Generation D. Retailers must overcome the fear of innovation to really understand how holistic digital strategies can be effectively executed, and not just used as standalone solutions loosely connected together that are forced upon the customer. Retailers must in-build margin for innovation in order to differentiate their businesses in the future.

3. Physical Retail as Media: The Dandy Lab collaborated with OnePlus to launch their OnePlus X smartphone in November 2015. We tested the theory that retail is no longer simply about sales, but instead about the experience that should be tied into the media consumed everyday by customers online. The approach turns physical retail spaces into offline marketing platforms to extend their online presence. The event demonstrated how retailers could push the boundaries of traditional shopping; the sale of products is no longer strictly tied to the store itself or the traditional metric of sales per square foot, but rather is more about experience per square foot. Many stores in the future will be used for the sole purpose of experiential showrooms.

4. Flexible Retail Formats – ShopShare: Partnering with We Are Pop Up we supported 52 British brands and of those over 65% originated in London. We wanted to test not only that ShopShare is a viable retail strategy, which was proven in our Spitalfields shop, but also that in the future retailers will need to morph their retail strategies into more flexible formats. With discount culture and property rental prices at an all time high, implementing additional revenue streams will be key to surviving amongst the saturated UK high street.

5. Smart Retail Environments: Overtime, retailers will be able to utilise artificial intelligence to automate data crunching so that the physical environment can be hyper-personalised to the individual. Whereby displays and lighting units dynamically change according to the individual’s shopping habits and preferences. At present this is very difficult to scale across international chains, however at The Dandy Lab we saw that personalisation will be key. Solutions such as Hoxton Analytics and Reward Technology will become more sophisticated and machine-learning environments will be able to create personalised, seamless multi- channel journeys. In the future smart shops will be the everyday norm for the way we shop and retailers must start planning now for that change.

To download the white paper please follow here.

About Peter

Peter is Co-Founder & Creative Director of The Dandy Lab and has a background in fashion product development and retailing. He holds an MA in Digital Fashion from London College of Fashion, where he is also an Associate Lecturer. He is currently developing academic research looking at ‘the future of retail’, consumer behaviour in smart retail environments and innovation within fashion retail ecosystems.