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Is this new ‘smart’ store model the future of retail?


A start-up retail logistics company and award-winning retail designer are behind an unusual — and very tech-savvy — new “smart” store model that has just opened its doors.

Retail logistics start-up ShopWithMe (formerly called OrderWithMe) has opened an interactive retail store on M. Michigan Avenue in Chicago, devoted to merchandise from Toms Shoes and Raven+ Lily. The store, designed by Giorgio Borruso, is meant to showcase the supplier’s technologies, which were prominently used in the pop-up that Zappos opened last holiday season in Las Vegas.

The merchandise is displayed on smart fixtures, such as glass top digital displays. Interactive mirror displays in the futuristic fitting rooms allow customers to make purchases or request alternate products without leaving their room. During their time in the sleek, streamlined, a shopper will be recommended product based on what they have been browsing. As they walk by, a shelf on the wall actually move towards them to recommend the item it holds. Shoppers can check out on their own via a mobile app.

“We are thrilled to be a part of ShopWithMe's innovative, sustainable store model. Customers are able to leverage technology to gain a deeper understanding of the story behind our products through their interactive kiosk,” said Kirsten Dickerson, founder of Raven + Lily.

ShopWithMe wants to build a network of smart stores all across the world which retailers can activate and deactivate within days. This will allow brands to go from zero stores to fifty overnight and then down to zero again a few weeks later, the company said.

"We're creating our very own 'store of the future.' Why should a new store have to be physically built for every brand? At ShopWithMe we change the files not the fixtures to create a new experience. Today the store can be TOMS Shoes and next week it can be an entirely new brand without us having to rebuild the store," said Danielle Jenkins, co-founder of ShopWithMe.

The 3,000 sq. ft. mobile structure allows different brands to temporarily inhabit a technologically advanced, interactive, and consumer-centered space. The structure is made up of four self-contained units connected by a bridge spanning 43 ft. The store itself is completely mobile, and designed to be mass-produced so it can be deployed across the US or shipped anywhere around the world.

“Cutting-edge mobile and tensile architectural systems allow for easy assembly, disassembly, and transport anywhere on the planet in a matter of days," said Giorgio Borruso, principal of Giorgio Borruso Design, and design architect for ShopWithMe.

ShopWithMe plans to bring its store concept to Chicago, New York, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston and Miami in the coming months. The company said it begin shipping stores globally at the first of the year.

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