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Now, a lab to revive retailers


Retail is dead. Long live New Retail.

That seems to be the sentiment as two retail groups launch a lab to reinvent retail for the online era. AOPEN, a digital signage and appliance computing provider, and retail design firm Red Design Group have opened in Melbourne a Retail Evolution Lab that will help retail businesses to design, test and trial new retail technologies in a “real” in-store environment.

“…the game is certainly not over for bricks-and-mortar retailers…it’s simply evolving,” said Stephen Borg, Global Strategy Director for AOPEN, whose parent company Wistron has annual revenues of over $21 billion and operations in more than 100 countries.

“The future of retail will be about keeping your customers shopping your brand 100% of the time – even they spend 50% of their time online and 50% in-store,” he added.

Borg says e-commerce has dramatically changed the retail market. Yet, its successful underpinning remains the same. Superior customer experience, spanning both service and shop quality, is what builds business and loyalty for retail brands – on and off the web, he says.

‘Tech-enriched experience’

So, the Retail Evolution Lab will help Aussie retailers fashion precisely that, arming it with the knowledge and tools required to do so. Technology caused this huge disruption in retail – creating a $13 billion e-commerce market. Yet it amounts to only 5.8% of traditional bricks-and-mortar sales (excluding food). Now retail will use technology to claw its way out of the hole.

The lab’s overall goal is to create a “tech-enriched retail experience.” Pray, how does one do that?

The lab will help retailers design and test custom store environments using such technologies as digital signage, touch devices, motion sensors and even facial recognition.

“Customers are demanding convenient and engaging ways to shop, and global retail brands like ASOS and Amazon have taken a strong foothold. But technology is allowing traditional retailers to claw back the advantage, as they can now offer both a digital and a physical experience, that online-only retailers cannot,” says Borg.

Red Design Group brings solid experience in creating “new” in-store experiences for brands such as Myer, Coles, Oroton, Mimco and 7 Eleven, while AOPEN brings to the table technical expertise.

Borg says the lab is not a futuristic venture but one that is ready to wow people with currently available technologies. All the concepts displayed in the lab are commercially available and ready for implementation within months.

In short, New Retail is ready to be born.