Six future thinking stores

18 Oct 2017

We’ve all heard about ‘the stores of the future’ for what feels like a decade now. Amazon Go makes the promise of futuristic shopping experiences fuelled by artificial intelligence, virtual reality and robots seem all too real. But this technology still has a long way to go before it trickles down to the masses. So what does this mean for the way we’re shopping today? Between playable stores and mobile retail, we’ve taken a closer look to see where our shops of the future are at right now.

Space10 for IKEA

Saving the world one algae at a time

© Space 10

Space10 for Ikea has created a first-of-its-kind four-metre high bioreactor dome capable of growing microalgae – the ‘supercrop of the future’. Not only do algae provide much of the Earth's oxygen, but they’re the the base for almost all marine life. It’s also one of the most overlooked nutritious foods, containing 50 times more iron than spinach and twice as much protein as meat. The mission is to highlight the potential of algae-producing spaces to solve some of the world’s biggest problems – from climate change to malnutrition.

Moby Mart
One step ahead of Amazon Go

© Moby Mart

Forget driving to the grocery store, what if they drove to you? Introducing Moby Mart: a self-driving, staff-free convenience store with an artificially intelligent hologram as your guide. Unlike Amazon Go, Moby Mart is designed to eventually deliver to different locations on demand using self-driving technology, and take itself back to the warehouse to restock. It’s powered by solar panels on the roof, where they also keep four drones, for delivering larger items to nearby customers. The prototype is currently undergoing trial in Shanghai, but the retail start-up behind it is planning to deploy a fleet of Moby Marts in 2018.

A couture outlook on mass-manufacturing

© It's Nice That

Unmade was born out of frustration at the fashion industry’s stagnant approach to mass-production. The founders, Ben, Kirsty and Hal, aimed to disrupt the typical manufacturing process to let more customers in. Using the same machines that make up the $200 billion knitwear market worldwide, they’ve created a unique software platform that can produce one-off garments every single time. Customers can design their own garments on demand, changing everything from colour and pattern down to the type of knit, and have them manufactured within a matter of minutes. What’s the added cost, you say? There is none.

The secret to supremacy

© Hype Beast

In this Experience Age, retail is no longer just about selling, but creating liveable moments. Take Supreme as an example of a brand that has mastered the in-store shopping experience – from the lines they generate to the raised skate bowl. A trend that spans from Tokyo to Brooklyn, ‘drop day’ at every store is seen as a ritual-like pilgrimage for the queues of loyal followers. Sure, they want the merch, but the queue acts as a social identifier. “The line is the new community”, says Jeff Carvalho of Highsnobiety. “When 300 kids are lining up outside of a store, it’s because they want to be part of something.”

Dish and Duer
Denim with a difference

© Janks Design Group

This Canadian brand is designing denim that not only looks good, but performs well outdoors. To show that proof is in the product, they’ve created a new kind of playable shopping experience with their in-store Performance Denim Playground. The playground allows their customers to really experience what makes their denim so unique and flexible, while having fun at the same time. They’re encouraged to try on Dish and Duer styles, and then climb the walls or swing on the monkeys bars, all in the name of finding the right fit of denim.

50 shades of coat

© Uniqlo

Several big retailers are already trialling in-store AR technology to create seamless shopping experiences. In collaboration with Holition in the UK, Uniqlo is one of the few to successfully deploy their own virtual dressing room in a few of their stores. Using a half-touch mirror and Kinect's colour-changing software, the Magic Mirror allows shoppers to imagine themselves in a range of colour choices of a single coat style, without the fuss of having to remove the garment.