ROBOTS AND HIPSTERS – THE CHANGING FACE OF RETAIL

Forget about rude waiters, sticky-floored shopping centres and boring furniture warehouses, innovative digital retail has hit every corner of the market – and we love it of course!

 A pinch of Pepper on your pizza: Hungry for a pizza but can’t face a long wait for table service? Pizza Hut has the answer. Initially only available to Asian customers, a robot called Pepper is now able to take orders as well as payments, thanks to its MasterCard Lab-designed ‘little helper’. Essentially, it’s a glorified checkout but with the ability to recognise human emotions. Bartenders next?

When a shopping centre turns into a gym: A new megamall in LA boasting Nordstrom as the anchor tenant will be opening next year, riding the crest of the fitness trend and redefining the concept of shopping malls – from buying products to eating nutritious, tasty food. In other words, no more KFC! The new fitness destination and gym will open in the mall alongside Eataly and other healthy food eateries. Following up on a successful European concept tried out by O2 in London and more recently by Selfridges with their basement yoga dojos, the idea of having a leisure centre surrounded by delicious food options is getting traction for the next generation of shopping malls. Kale juice followed by a yoga session instead of a new pair of Louboutins?

Vibrating rings: Jewellery shops are turning into interactive technology ones. Every wearable piece has to multi-task, as it’s simply not enough to just ‘be a ring’. Oh no – these days such an accessory is just a pretext to be connected, to react to notifications and feel a warm buzz of your Facebook hive on your finger. Stylish Altruis – a ring powered by Vinaya – brings elegant comms to your finger. Handy?

Sofa, so fabulous: Contrary to trends for flagships, the UK’s leading sofa retailer DFS is swimming against the stream. Smaller, densely populated locations were initially rejected by the retailer, but the store has now developed a digital try-me-out to invite customers to create the sofa of their dreams in virtual reality, while sitting in-store on one of the (few) physically present sofas. Small is beautiful indeed.

Room service just got fashionable: In town and fancy a bit of shopping? No need to leave the cosy confines of your hotel room – you can now call not only room service, but a virtual personal stylist to shop the best Westfield has to offer. All of this is happening remotely, from the comfy sofas of the Sanderson Hotel. Wall-projected images called up from the websites of each supplier show you a range of inspiring luxury brands, give precise details on what’s in stock and, once you select your items, the bundle will be couriered to your hotel in under 90 minutes. Hats off to the Sanderson, as this is true luxury for the 21st century.

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