MAKE IT SPECIAL – THANKS TO THE SHOPS OF THE FUTURE

Want to know the trick to skipping the busiest retail hours, ordering your pizza without lifting a finger and printing your own 3D trainers? This week’s [retail bytes] will help you discover the latest retail and tech magic.

Xmas store madness? No thanks… Packed shops? Feeling claustrophobic in crowds? Thanks to Google, you can now check out how busy the shop is likely to be so you can plan to come back at a quieter time. If you are near and can pop in at a moment’s notice, Google will give you a decent estimation of how busy the shop is right now. Neat, although based mainly on Android users and a lot of approximation (for now).

Internet of Things at the tip of your tongue: For shoppers that prefer to get their gifts online, help is given in the shape of Echo Dot and, on it, Alexa, a voice-recognition enabled ‘personal shopper’. You can get this Santa’s little helper (i.e. a voice-driven e-commerce-cum-personal assistant bot) to understand your specific instructions to ‘get a book for grandma’ or ‘get me a pizza’ if you have the right app enabled on it. Alexa can take orders for Prime, so in practice you can do all the Xmas shopping while lying down on the sofa and without even typing requests on a keyboard – just shouting instructions to Alexa will be sufficient. But you’ll still have to open the door to the postman, unless Amazon brings on a home robot upgrade. No doubt it is coming…

If the shoe fits… For a special occasion, we’ve dreamed about this unique, once-in-a-lifetime pair of shoes that would just be perfect. Hearing our pain, Iris, the founder of Solely Original, is bringing that dream home, inviting customers to scan their feet with a 3D scanner, create a personal template, then select from a rich choice of heel types, shapes, fabrics and accessories to create this completely bespoke (yet not costing a fortune) shoe. Since each shoe is completely customised, it’s easy to order less typical sizes and make them fit perfectly.

Iris offers a good combo of wild choices (for those of an extravert nature, who have a thing for a purple fake skin shoe cover), or you can play it safe with an on-trend deep blue velvet heel boot. They’ve just completed successful fundraising on CrowdCube. We hope other shoe retailers take notice – enough of shoe-induced pain!

DIY – New 3D kicks: Nike is exploring not just 3D scanning but 3D printing, aiming to change the way we’ll be buying our kicks in the near future. They’ve joined forces with HP to deliver customised sneakers for every athlete using 3d-printing tech for the shoe innovation. Today it’s Nike’s custom track spike, but soon it’ll be your humble running pair, printed at the back of the Nike shop while you have your flat white in the store lounge, flipping through the Iron Man mags. Customers are craving new experiences in stores – Snow and Rock already deliver that for skiers with their super customised ski boots, so surely running should be next? Come on Nike, just do it!

Have a great (LED light) night: Your kids don’t like going to sleep in dark rooms? This week our top Xmas gift tip is something very special, for kids like mine who who are not too keen on the dark. TrendyHQ has created a very cute touch sensor LED night light in the form of lovely Japanese cartoon character Totoro. You can switch it on and off by just touching the lamp. You may even want to grab one as your own bedside lamp, as there’s something really comforting in the idea that you can wake the lamp up with just the touch of your hand.

This week’s show: Video magic at The Infinite Mix. Don’t miss The Infinite Mix on the Strand. We are seeking to integrate video walls into our stores, offices and homes, but there’s a sense of lack of direction as to how we should be using the magic of moving images in our environments. Here you’ll find some answers to what can be done with images and videos. Art, of course, but in a new way.