Inside The Dandy Lab Edit

Written by Clara Maguire


The Dandy Lab is a co-retail lab where we gather brands, technologists, entrepreneurs, researchers and makers. We work at the intersection of emerging retail technologies and future retail formats.

So far we’ve run 5 concept stores across London and are currently popping up on London’s first smart street located at Bird Street W1B 1BU.

“We believe that physical retailing is becoming a powerful advertising platform for product brands where real tactile experiences are more memorable.”

We are a bit different from most retailers – we focus on:

> building a community of brands: we’ve worked with hundreds of amazing brands. They’ve taught us that they want real world retail at the same price and ease as setting up an online shop. We’ve launched ShopShare, brands rent a rail or a shelf by the month. This year we will be ramping up our brand offer and launching a membership model – keep an eye out for updates.

> retail placemaking: every concept store is different and designed to offer something relevant to the local retail experience. By building a brand community first – we can curate each store to a unique brief. In September we’ll be launching a new retail placemaking service – ping us at if you’d like to know more.

> retail tech: for us technology is redefining retail – our focus is on 3 things:
engaging customer experiences where tech reduces friction, tells stories and is fun and easy to use.
making it easy for brands to join the community and for us to support and promote them.
engaging with our customers in a similar way to our brands – a community that we engage with even when we aren’t popping up.

We’ve called our Bird Street pop up the Edit. We’re showcasing our favourite fashion and lifestyle products transforming the retail space into a ‘physical magazine’. We’ve got a Selfie Mirror which will put your picture on the Edit’s magazine cover.

We believe that physical retailing is becoming a powerful advertising platform for product brands where real tactile experiences are more memorable, and create an emotional connection between the customer and the brand. Therefore, we are designing the shop to act as a physical advertising channel – a magazine full of engaging and fun experiences. Smart operational technologies help the brands to easily pop up in-store for a flexible amount of time, engage with customers, tell their stories, increase brand recognition, and get insights on their product performance.

Reinforcing our community values, customers are able to shop and meet the creators of the exclusive in-store products. We’ve got vintage inspired jewellery by Katie Mullally, luxurious yak wool accessories by Khunu, and innovative custom molded insoles by Podo. We show all the stories behind the brands, just like stories in a magazine.

Our launch Brands are: Charlie Howe Design, House Thirteen, Katie Mullally, Khunu, Monc, Monu, Podo, Sloane Stationery, Thomas Clipper, Sasha Tugolukova, Smith & Sinclair, Tom Smarte, The Travel Org, Wild Planet

“The collaboration between Podo and The Dandy Lab gives us the opportunity to connect, interact and inspire our customers, and build sustainable relationships through data gathered using the digital tech inside the pod.”
Christophe Champs, Founder, Podo

At the Edit we’re focusing on four main retail tech categories:
1. Experiential and fun technologies – we created a shop to act as a magazine, where customers explore the brands and are invited to be a part of the magazine by becoming the face of the magazine cover through the In-store selfie mirror by ClickSys. Customers can then share the picture on social media to get in-store discounts.
2. Smart and easy payments – we are working with MishiPay to provide a quick and easy payment solution. Customers can scan, pay and go without ever having to visit the till point..
3. Analytics and intelligence – in order to understand the customers’ demographics, likes and interests, we have partnered with Locomizer to help us better understand our visitors and improve the in-store product selection and offering.
4. Feedback technologies – to collate customer feedback we have partnered with Ksubaka and gamified a customer survey.

If you’re a customer, brand, landlord or tech business please do stop by and say hello – we’d love to discuss The Edit with you and get your feedback. We are open everyday between 11am and 7pm at Bird Street, W1U 1BU


The Shifting Ground of Retail Real Estate Valuations

Written by Clara Maguire

Lately landlords are growing ever reluctant to do turnover deals. From their point of view omnichannel retail means the store is generating sales not accounted for at the till. We can track the basics like in-store mobile payments, click and collect, and in-store returns (which are a definite loss to the landlord on a turnover lease). But there’s a massive distance to travel before we understand the value of retail square footage in an omnichannel world.

Imagine for a moment store leasing models that worked like google adwords. You can pay for:

  • CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) which in a real world format relates to an in-store purchase (mobile included).
  • CPC (Cost Per Click) the proxy measurement could be a social media follow, like or share created in store, or a product added to a wishlist and later fulfilled.
  • CPM (Cost Per Impression) i.e. the size / frequency of the advert. In retail terms, our old favourite, square footage and duration.

Or imagine what we can dream up when we combine different data points – sensors to measure interaction with products, social graphs to measure interaction with brands, unique visitors, dwell / footfall, increase in social media followers. Exciting right? That’s before we’ve even started thinking about the dynamics of place, proximity of online orders to stores, the evolution of distribution logistics and spatial requirements in the city, the future of making.

“There’s a new value ecosystem being created and that means that all value points are in flux.”

Retail is going through a radical reorganisation. There’s a new value ecosystem being created and that means that all value points are in flux and leasing models are central to this. There’s a lot to think about and only a limited number of actors with the data to help support our initial assumptions. There are also some significant hurdles. Retailers are cautious about sharing data in case it results in increased property costs. Landlords can’t always get the retailer data they need (though those doing turnover deals are best placed to make a start). Other less obvious offline data partners like advertising, events, PR agencies are often overlooked.

In addition the infrastructure, software and analytical capabilities may not be in-house yet, that goes for all parties. There are data privacy concerns that will govern the design of such systems. Attempting to mimic real world leasing structures on dynamic online models is difficult to fathom given the different levels of capital exposure. Our asset model simply isn’t free enough to experiment – it’s over-leveraged and props up important parts of the economy like our pension funds.

“If our response is to fall back into traditional lease formats – we will sound the death knell for innovation.”

All that said, if we don’t take it on, if our response is to fall back into traditional lease formats – we will sound the death knell for innovation. Turnover leases are fundamentally important to shared risk, the notion of shared risk was developed by Joseph Stiglitz and he got the Nobel Peace Prize. So our challenge today is how to design dynamic leasing models, ones that maximise the opportunity for innovation, that support new ideas and give them equitable access to our cities to create jobs and places that matter. It will require us to think differently about value and we may find the results as challenging as the process. At The Dandy Lab we are planning on giving it a go – we’ll get further with great partners. If you’re interested in getting involved please drop me a line, I’d love to hear from you.

About Clara

Clara is Head of Growth at The Dandy Lab. Her experience spans urban development, entrepreneurial ecosystems, future institutions, and tech start-ups. She has previously been COO of We Are Pop Up a venture backed tech startup, Co-founder of Architecture 00:/ an urban design practice, and has run entrepreneurship programmes on behalf of Richard Branson. She has been published several times by leading think tanks on subjects related to Future Cities.