Farfetch’s ‘Store of the Future’ takes its customer data to physical retail
On Wednesday, Farfetch unveiled a new set of tools for retailers at its FarfetchOS event in London. Considered the final piece of its retail platform, the “Store of the Future” retail solution powered by Farfetch zooms in on digitizing the in-store experience for luxury brands.
The Store of the Future technology platform will support the company’s brand and boutique partners’ physical stores by giving them insight into customer data history from online and, as it’s collected, in-store shopping trips. Using the platform, stores will be equipped with a database that shares information around a customer’s past purchases, preferred brands and browsing behavior, which will help salespeople better personalize the in-store shopping experience. A “Connected Rail” feature uses in-store product recognition to keep track of what products a customer picks up, tries on and puts back in a store, in order to personalize future recommendations.
The platform will also help stores better manage inventory and order fulfillments, and drive foot traffic by offering buy online, pick up in store and in-store returns. The Store of the Future platform, currently in beta mode, will launch at the boutique Browns in London and at Thom Browne’s New York store.
“Farfetch has been experimenting with a wide range of technologies. For instance, through Store of the Future, brands will have a better understanding of what a customer journey could look like in a ‘connected store,” said Stephanie Phair, Farfetch’s chief strategy officer. “Customer recognition is important in this experience.”
Farfetch, founded by José Neves in 2008, began aggregating inventory from independent boutiques in order to help small retailers increase sales by going online. Farfetch, which takes a commission of sales made through its site and doesn’t house inventory, later expanded to bring on luxury brands to its platform. In 2015, it opened Farfetch Black & White, a technology solution component powering the function and logistics of brands’ e-commerce sites, while letting them maintain control over their merchandise and customer relationships.
Store of the Future will extend that relationship to powering digital in-store solutions. Farfetch is far from the first retailer to lay claim to the “store of the future” promise. It’s also not rare for a digitally minded retailer to set up a back-end database for its physical stores: Retailers like Cos Bar, Reformation and Timberland all use in-store technology like traffic counters and customer identification tools to enhance the in-store experience.
What Farfetch’s Store of the Future tech could do is boost a much bigger network of brands — particularly those that might not otherwise be investing in updating their stores — to become digitally led.
“With Black & White, Farfetch recognized that it built a digital skill set that it can apply not only to its primary business, but also to other brands that lack a native digital culture,” said Tamar Koifman, head of marketing at the Digital Luxury Group. “This is more of a stretch. But if Farfetch pulls it off, it will open a new revenue stream with no cannibalization of its core business.”
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