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Store of the Future: revolutionising luxury retail one store at a time

Kunal Gokal
Passionate about customer-centric products and travelling the world in sustainable Patagonia gear.
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Store of the Future: revolutionising luxury retail one store at a time
It all started on 12th April 2017 at Farfetch OS when José Neves, our Founder & CEO, took the stage at London’s Design Museum. Farfetch Store of the Future (SoF) was unveiled, announcing Farfetch’s new retail innovation division and vision for what we call ‘Augmented Retail’. Augmented Retail is about venturing beyond online e-commerce and addressing the key needs for the luxury fashion industry in the brick-and-mortar space, connecting the two worlds together. After all, the ambition of our company is to be customer-focused during every touchpoint that builds off a global platform for luxury.


There is no doubt online channels are continuing to rise in market share of global luxury sales, but physical retail remains dominant and industry predictions suggest it will remain so. We believe that during the next six years online behavioural patterns will play a larger influence over purchase decision making, as luxury shoppers still engage with a disconnected experience when visiting stores in real life. This brings up some questions from customers, like "why doesn’t the retail staff know my previous purchases?” or "why as a loyal customer am I not given the same treatment when visiting a brand’s store in New York or Shanghai?” These are examples of customer problems we’re looking to solve with our Store of the Future technology, products, and services. Our goal is to provide personalised attention when stepping foot into a partner location based on who you are, powered by people and technology.

We knew luxury companies need to manage their full branding and visual identity, plus there is a Farfetch customer base that can benefit from our global marketplace of boutiques, brands and curators via physical retail locations. Using shared frameworks, kits, components and SDKs for our native app product suite, we can enrich the customer experience across channels to facilitate a seamless experience at luxury brick-and-mortar stores of all kinds. Our Store of the Future platform connects these elements towards a seamless way for customers being recognised and fetch key data of previous online/offline behaviours to provide a human-driven service by retail teams at partner stores. Whether it is geolocation services or "smart tags” using motion sensors, accelerometers and machine learning for product recognition, the overall objective is to scale our app experiences to customers around the world and contribution towards the platform ecosystem.


Forecast for the global luxury market
McKinsey & Company (2018). Luxury in the Age of Digital Darwinism

Our humble beginnings - jump start at first locations

In 2017 the Store of the Future team rolled up their sleeves to deliver experiences with Browns East as a living lab to trial new technologies and capture user insights. We also partnered with Thom Browne to launch our ‘Shop Floor App’ for sales associates in New York and London. The focus was simple - building intuitive and convenient customer journeys by transforming demo products into living and breathing applications with impact.

Browns East - Shoreditch, London

The Shop Floor App was designed as a back-office tool allowing retail teams to control in-store clienteling and be armed with a view of customer and inventory information. The other manifestation of our product suite is the Connected Display. Also known as a ‘magic mirror’, it blends software and hardware seamlessly as a canvas to build modularity in white-label user interfaces that amplify discovery and inspiration for customers in fitting rooms. Our products were quickly graduating, as stores could improve retail operations and efficiency while also catering to customer needs, including a personalised service. Retailers can now build a relationship with the Farfetch ecosystem through the use of Store of the Future’s technology in different use cases. Examples include an infinite shelf across offline and online catalogues to deliver omnichannel stock lookup and fulfilment or growing the number of unique luxury shoppers from in-store visits.

Store of the Future Connected Display

How do we achieve retail enlightenment and our vision?

We knew something was missing for a complete cycle in an Online-Offline-Online journey (O2O), which was to enable a way for retailers to engage and build relationships with customers. All these pieces came together and distilled our vision into a single statement - create the best in class platform solution to revolutionise the way customers experience luxury retail. I started working with the team in setting a direction to invest in an API-driven architecture, mobile first mindset and turnkey integration setup that expands Farfetch’s brand and boutique partnerships to include international omnichannel retail services.

Drawing from my experience in native apps, the first steps were taken to kick off our consumer offering from a platform perspective.

At the same time, engineering and product teams developed capabilities through the Store of the Future platform to unlock B2B Shop Floor Apps efficiently with a wider real estate presence. Our technology needs to be flexible in order to adapt to the experience for customers and retailers alike whether it is a Farfetch boutique, department store, pop up, event, or a flagship space for a luxury brand. Central and configurable server-side business logic, feature management and toggling allow us to bootstrap core features rapidly. We also started to look at defining contracts with our Store of the Future platform so we can provide a single source of truth for our product model, as well as version control and client segmentation for its data. This modular, plug and play model tailored to the luxury market marries aggregated supply from physical locations across our platform with a network effect of customer demand on a global and local level.

What’s next in store for Store of the Future?

The road ahead is an exciting one. For example, we will bring Augmented Retail to a full circle where the ultimate goal is unifying technology, people and creativity for a singular customer experience. In parallel, we see a great opportunity from a unit economics perspective by expanding luxury shopper acquisition and retention into offline brick-and-mortar locations with an increased retail partner portfolio on our platform. Our frame of thinking is to keep imagining and driving the next generation of luxury shopping into the future, one store at a time.
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