Re-Imagining the Store of the Future – Part II

Industry   |   
Published May 14, 2014   |   

You are in a department store. After waiting in line, you get to the fitting room – and try out the outfit you’ve picked out. You love it, except…’s the wrong size. You now have to change back into your clothes – go out pick the right size, and get back to the fitting room. You decide, it’s just not worth the effort. Rather like the abandoned shopping carts online, how many garments are abandoned at fitting rooms – because the size was wrong, the lighting was wrong and made you look terrible, or just many small things?

Last week at the Global Department Store Summit in Singapore, I had the opportunity to talk to Niki Veltman of La Place, Netherlands. She, along with a team of high potential managers from Tangs, Myers, decided to identify the department stores required to fix the Fitting Room Problem.

As she spoke enthusiastically about how the customer takes her buying decision, in the fitting room, I had an epiphany. Is the Fitting Room the store of the future? Can you imagine online merchants having just samples in a small store – perhaps even a warehouse, but attached to fantastic fitting rooms – that allow you to try – and then buy products online, and perhaps get them delivered the same day?

It’s not as farfetched as it seems…

At Bugis Junction, I came across an interesting store, called Toy Outpost. It was a store – with lockers and glass doors along the walls. The store rented the lockers (options were open cubes, lockers, lockers with plug points and so on) to merchants who could place their products inside. You picked what you wanted and paid for it at a common till in the store.




They didn’t ask me for my number or email ID – which would have enabled the online merchant to sell more to me, but hey, it was just the beginning!

Singapore is also big on Blogshops – where blogs are used to sell to customers. I heard of one department store that wanted to understand how to handle the threat of blogshops, as it was re-fitting its store.

On a completely different note, and still on the subject of ‘the Store of the Future’, here’s something close to our hearts at Crayon (named one of the 50 hottest startups in the world by Code_n at Cebit, selected one of just 25 finalists for the IBM Watson Mobile Developers’ Challenge and finalist at TiE Silicon Valley’s “2014 Global Hot Technology Start – Up Watch List”)

Introducing a session on “Seeing the Multi-Lifestyle Customer”, Andrew Jennings, former CEO of Karstadt, and Woolworths, said (and I paraphrase), “Customers have too much choice. As retailers we need to edit, edit, edit to make it simpler for them”…. We do, SO AGREE.

Anyone interested should read “The Paradox of Choice” and see Sheena Iyengar’s talk on Ted. At Crayon, we decided to ‘Simplify the World’s Choices’. To do this, we decided we needed to understand what consumers like – or not – their Tastes – and so we’ve built a Taste Graph – a repository of over 550 MILLION taste points – and growing. We use the taste graph and some very cool algorithms to predict what a customer would like – out of the hundreds of thousands of sku’s that a retailer has in stock. Ergo, Simplified Choice and a happier customer. We are selectively working with retailers, banks, hotels and telco’s who want to find ways of simplifying choice to drive revenues – and happier customers.

If you want to know more, send me a mail at and I’ll arrange to send you a deck that explains what we do and how…