Beyond Token Customisation

How can we think beyond traditional retail models to offer consumers unique and perfectly tailored shopping experiences that add genuine value? 

Mass customisation and personalisation have been hot topics within retail for a while now, but we’re only just beginning to explore the full potential of technologies such as augmented, virtual reality and artificial intelligence... and learning how to harness them for specific audiences in a retail context. 

Nike has partnered with SmartPixels, an immersive technology company, to provide the ultimate real-time ,in-store, shoe customisation. Using an augmented reality device, shoppers can customise their sneaker of choice by placing a ‘blank’ white shoe into the device, which enables them to visualise their shoes in a plethora of colour-ways.

The device is a real-world version of what is already possible online, in which consumers can adapt the colours to their liking by clicking through colour options. The tech will only be trialled in the Paris flagship store for 6 months, but don't be surprised to see similar approaches to customisation from other retail giants around the traps this year.  

You're likely to be familiar with Ikea and their flat-pack, build-it-yourself style furniture, but what you might not know is that they're creating a whole new line of 'open source' furniture due out in 2018, which is perfectly customisable.

In collaboration with designer Tom Dixon, the new range encourages furniture 'hackers' to build onto the basic furniture set to design and create something that will suit any person, in any place - be it a tiny urban apartment for one or a family-sized home. Not only does this solution appeal to individual tastes, it means the furniture turns into something organic that evolves over a lifetime, minimising the amount of costly furniture purchases and developing a sustainable model that reduces waste. 

So what?
Beyond basic online shopping and traditional sales-based purchases, retail pioneers are beginning to challenge the fundamentals of how consumers navigate and interact with their products.

As tech-enabled platforms continue to open the doors to new models for buying and consuming, expect to see more and more brands tapping into the individual needs of their customers and giving people a way to find their perfect fit solution; from furniture to medicine to clothing and everything in between.