Shoreditch is expected to see a blend of the virtual and the physical in November 2020 when The Drum Labs’ CornerShop opens up. Occupying the ground floor of a three-storey building in Shoreditch, and developed by SharpEnd and Capgemini, the space is set to showcase the future of retail. Featuring a coffee shop, fashion retail and groceries, the project aims to open our eyes to what the technology of tomorrow could permit. But how much of a digital blend are we expecting?

CornerShop May Revolutionize Retail

Ed De Mott of Capgemini suggested that deciphering what the future of retail looked like involved assessing technological challenges, analysing the user experience, and looking at which other tech companies might be best for providing some solutions. The store will utilize an app alongside the physical experience, providing the customer with a more personalised and user-centric approach to retail. The omnichannel approach is set to capitalize on the benefits of both online shopping and shopping in person.

Indeed, online shopping involves setting preferences and making choices based on how well the software of the site knows us as customers. This experience is lacking when it comes to physical retailers. So, the project aims to use the app to help create some user settings for a physical store. The project also looked at how certain elements of the shopping experience could be amplified through digital means.

Digital Technology and Fashion

One of the most exciting aspects is the ability to try on fashion products virtually. This technology has been seen before, with users able to see how the clothes they are viewing may look on them. Fitle was born in 2014 as an experiment to use a 3D avatar to try clothes on to see how they might look. Despite the success rate of the technology, it never really took off on a major scale.

Similarly, Amazon tried to use user preferences and its large database of items to retool the fashion retailer experience. Amazon helped fund the StyleSnap technology in 2019, which was dubbed the ‘Shazam’ of clothing. You simply snapped a picture of an item of clothing you liked and they found something that matched it. But this also wasn’t as eagerly adopted as developers may have wanted it to be.

The Future of Digital Technology

The ambition for the project comes from merging a very traditional concept with the scope of what digital technology could allow. This has been seen across a variety of industries as more analogue sectors are finding new audiences and new customers in digital spaces. The future of technology will also be defined by the growth of businesses in the digital sphere that were previously mostly analogue.

For example, the world of banking has slowly merged the physical with the digital. Physical payments can be processed through contactless and even through banking apps on smartphones. The move away from physical banking and towards online banking shows the strength of digital banking and how it can be used not just for online shopping and in a digital space, but in a physical one.

Moreover, looking at this list of online casinos in the UK we can see that the traditional industry of casino has become one in high-demand online, so audiences who want to engage are able to choose from a multitude of different sites. These sites thus utilize welcome offers and special bonuses such as free spins and no-deposit cashback to attract customers over their competitors.

Furthermore, navigating our way around our surroundings has also been primarily digital. While apps that track location, such as Google Maps, use our physical position, we can see a digital overlay that helps us find where we are going. Apps have further changed how we see the travel industry and ultimately how we navigate our way through life.

Social media is perhaps the best example of how we use the digital mode of communication to improve our physical relationships with one another. The ability to speak instantly and stay updated across a variety of different platforms helps friendships thrive in a digital sphere to augment their physical counterpart.

The success of CornerShop in November 2020 will give us an indication as to how well digital and physical technologies can merge. Previous industries that have merged the physical with the digital have been able to capitalize on new audiences and increase the scope of what the industry can do. It may represent the first of its kind, but if successful we could see a new way of engaging with retail.