ShopWithMe Blends Online and Physical Store Retailing into a Traveling Digital Experience
Want to open a traveling pop-up store? Why ship the fixtures when you can just update the digital files? ShopWithMe’s “smart store” offers the next wave of retail design with a tech-savvy, flexible store environment—all ready to go up overnight
Photos by Benny Chan/Fotoworks
Location, location, location is a time-tested retail mantra. With the past holiday season posting record-breaking Black Friday online and mobile sales, what’s a bricks-and-mortar retailer to do?
Take an interactive store directly to the customer, of course, where the best of the physical store experience meets the best of online technology. Thanks to Las Vegas-based ShopWithMe, retailers can now order a ready-to-travel retail environment and do just that. Founded in 2011, ShopWithMe (formerly OrderWithMe) is a retail logistics startup that now offers a one-stop-shop solution.
Following a highly publicized interactive pop-up shop with Zappos.com in Las Vegas in 2014, ShopWithMe knew it was on to something big regarding its relationship to physical retail. The company worked with Marina Del Ray, Calif.-based Giorgio Borruso Design to create a next-gen “store of the future,” blending online and physical store retailing into a traveling digital experience. Debuting its holiday tour in Chicago last November, the ShopWithMe store is completely mobile, and designed to be mass-produced for future iterations in the United States or globally.
“This 3,000-sq.-ft. mobile structure challenges traditional models of retail architecture by allowing different brands to temporarily inhabit a technologically advanced, highly interactive and consumer-centered space,” explains Giorgio Borruso of the eponymous firm.
The ShopWithMe experience is designed for both traditional retailers that are moving toward smaller, showroom locations and e-commerce retailers looking for an entrée into physical stores.
“We provide the infrastructure and technology that brands need to activate a turnkey interactive retail store and begin selling seamlessly, overnight,” explains Jonathan Jenkins, founder and CEO of ShopWithMe. The vision is to build a network of smart stores housing multiple brands across the world, which retailers can activate and deactivate within days. That means going from zero to 50 stores overnight, and then down to zero again weeks later.
To properly equip the mobile space for brand-ready content, Borruso fashioned a sleek blank slate capable of housing a variety of merchandising and visuals. The interior environment features white walls, light wood flooring, movable fixtures and repositionable lighting. Brands need only ship display graphics and merchandise.
From the store’s expansive glass façade, customers can see an igloo-shaped virtual reality dome, a 360-degree immersive theater where shoppers can sample a brand “experience” without donning awkward goggles.
Once inside, the store’s fittings look a bit more traditional, but tech-enabled and sleekly styled. There are glass-top digital displays, LED-driven décor and smart changing rooms. In the fitting rooms, for instance, interactive mirror displays allow customers to make purchases or request alternate products without leaving their rooms.
All products and fixtures are RFID-embedded, and the store includes beacons so that customers with the ShopWithMe app can receive product suggestions and personalized messages. While in-store, the technology offers an endless aisle as shoppers also can scan items to find more options, request items to try on, build a cart and check out.
Another eye-popping feature is the store’s pixel wall—a floor-to-ceiling immersive smart display and fixture in one, crafted from 900 individual screens that move independently to form shelves and hanging racks. The wall also can respond to shoppers using the ShopWithMe mobile app to suggest products or display rich content from the brand. As you walk by, a shelf on the wall will actually move toward you to recommend the item it holds. And, customers who have added a payment method to their app can pay by scanning their phone as they exit.
The overall ShopWithMe structure is made of four self-contained units connected by a bridge spanning 43 ft. Mobile and tensile architectural systems allow for easy assembly, disassembly and transport anywhere on the planet in a matter of days, Borruso adds. “We were intrigued by the idea of a kinetic building materializing within the dense urban context of a top architecture capital and becoming part of its landscape,” he says.
Opening in downtown Chicago on Pioneer Court, a public plaza fronting Michigan Avenue just north of the Chicago River, ShopWithMe’s concept debuted featuring TOMS Shoes and Raven + Lily for just one week. Both brands offered a full range of products for a short run before pulling up stakes and moving on (ShopWithMe actually loads into a custom container for shipping) to its next stop in Summerlin, Nev.
“Why should a new store have to be physically built for every brand?” proposes Danielle Jenkins, ShopWithMe’s co-founder. “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.”
Beyond Chicago and Summerlin, ShopWithMe plans to stop in other top retail meccas, including New York, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston and Miami. Plans include shipping stores globally in 2016. Get your smartphones (and smart wallets) ready.
Pioneer Court, Chicago
Giorgio Borruso Design
D4C Product Development
ShopWithMe, D4C Product Development
TENSILE STRUCTURE/BRIDGE ENCLOSURE
VIRTUAL REALITY DOME
Spectrum Oak Products Inc.
Information in the project file is provided by the retailer and/or design firm.