Dreaming (about the) store of the future: An interview with Lui Iarocheski from PlatformE
There are many ideas out there, but Lui Iarocheski, Group Marketing Director at PlatformE has shared with us everything about the future of luxury retail, and together we dream about what the store of the future will be.
The last times were marked by uncertainty and unpredictability of what the future will be. Therefore, there was a great need to rethink and reimagine the store of the future. Many believe the store of the future will be a playground of technology, while others believe the store will have as a fundamental role the experience and the offer of moments that can’t be designed online.
Lui Iarocheski is a fashion stylist and enthusiast from the world of technology and 3D. He’s committed to changing the clothing and fashion industry through digitalisation and virtual fashion. His main objective is to accelerate the convergence of fashion with technology to help retailers, brands and designers solve complex problems to create a better future for business, people and the planet.
PlatformE is an end-to-end platform solution accelerating fashion’s digital transformation in product, retail and on-demand manufacturing. It’s a Portuguese technology company that works with major luxury brands, such as LVMH, Kering, Gucci, Dior, Fendi and Farfetch, through technology to drive the digital transformation of fashion towards mass customisation.
The Power House: How technology is changing the luxury retail game?
Lui: For me, augmented reality is already changing the game of luxury fashion retail in a mind-boggling way. I believe that this type of technology, using augmented reality, will greatly help luxury consumers to not only experiment but to generate content without having physical possession of the product in question.
This can range from Instagram or Tik Tok filters to an e-commerce environment or physical environment with the possibility of interacting virtually with something through augmented reality tools.
A very interesting case that totally raised the potential of technology was Gucci’s augmented reality strategy in which they produced filters for Instagram and other social networks for the beauty and cosmetics line. In addition to the development of the creative team of the luxury brand, they also challenged influencers to produce their own filter to share with the community so that followers and lovers of the brand could virtually experience and have an experience with various products through technological means, in this case, augmented reality.
All of this is reflected in new opportunities to personalize and customize the experience. I believe that this is the true core, because the main objective of using technology is to simplify and deliver different and individualized experiences that would not be possible without the power of technology. Another great opportunity that I still identify within augmented reality is the ability and potential to produce products in 3D format. I believe that this can and should be a real revolution as it allows to reverse the order of the system and only produce with orders avoiding waste and overproduction.
Another innovative potential that luxury fashion has yet to open its eyes to is the need to expose the product online in a different way in addition to the standardisation of 2D photographs with perfect and luxurious scenarios and setups. The time has come when the consumer needs more than that, such as 3D views that allow the consumer to have a more interactive and dynamic experience and see the piece in its entirety. The secret is to make digital in a luxurious and technologically sassy way, but also more responsible without the need for physical samples and waste.
In addition to making the process more sustainable, conscious and responsible on the planet, it would also be a format for designing an effectively unique and new product for that consumer, and that is another level of customisation. The potential is countless - now it is up to the brands to seek to innovate even more within these business opportunities. Let’s imagine, with technological tools of augmented reality, the consumer can see in real time the entire process of their order, from the creation process, to the production, to the personalisation until the shipment of the product.
All of this, in addition to being innovative, sustainable and individualised, increases the transparency and visibility of the brand in sharing its supply chain and processes directly with the community that it loves so much.
I could also talk about virtual reality, but I think that this technology needs to be worked on and better developed, and that is why it is far from being mainstream. Logically, in the future, we will see it being used especially in video games and gaming platforms but, for luxury retail, I still think that the next step is to explore augmented reality and virtual environments (avatars and digital personalities), but without depending on a fully virtual reality, because I feel that the flap is not ready for that at the moment.
The Power House: If you closed your eyes and imagined the store of the future. What would it be like?
Lui: When asked about the future, I never like to imagine something very much like super futuristic fiction and technology where humanity is distorted. But if Ihad to close my eyes and imagine, I think that in the store of the future we will have all the technology from robots with artificial intelligence to very crazy things but in a very soft and very non-invasive way.
In fact, this is going to be the main mission of technology, to have a determining role and function but in a very simple and smooth way. I see a lot of artificial intelligence and, maybe in the store of the future, there is not even a single sales person but avatars that can be like new store operators and virtual assistants. But all of this is not yet truly disruptive because it is already possible, and we already have the technology and resources to make these innovations happen.
However, although in the future I believe that technology will be king, I also believe that luxury will not be a pioneer in these innovations due to its reluctant relationship with technology. I see more ready-to-wear fashion brands offering a disruptive and exciting experience to the new technological consumer.
Regarding luxury brands, I see the store of the future as a kind of extension of the brand universe, but something that goes much further than the product, and that speaks of people, history, tradition and values that allow the consumer to feel the whole environment and essence of the brand. The luxury store of the future should be seen as a Broadway show where the consumer is the centre and focus and the rest of the show’s members are experiences that make them feel understood, loved and desired.
I believe that physical luxury stores in the future will resort even more to personal shoppers to prevail in the relationship and constant interaction. The bet is no longer on the status and quality of the product, but on the experience and value that is delivered to the consumer during that moment.
Therefore, I think that the brand culture must be consolidated in the consumption of the physical store and act as an extension of the store’s universe. The future store is therefore more intelligent and a very powerful marketing tool to combat the new luxury paradigm, taking into account sustainability, social impact and the need for intimate relationships and almost even friendship and companionship between the luxury brand and the consumer.
In the stores of the future, luxury brands should step out of their position of superiority, sit on the edge of consumers and start a real conversation on topics that go much further than just buying luxury.