I came across this interesting bit of news unrelated to our industry and thought: Hey, mortgage lenders should do this, too. I read that ShopWithMe, a smart, interactive retail store, opened its doors to the public to showcase its latest technological advancements since their highly publicized pop-up event with Zappos last year in Las Vegas. Located at 401 N. Michigan Avenue, across from the Tribune building in downtown Chicago, Illinois, top retail executives from across the United States attended the opening to experience what ShopWithMe deems to be “the future of retail.” Here’s what they did:
Jonathan Jenkins, Founder and CEO of WithMe, created a “smart store” to bring the best of both offline and online shopping together under one roof, while creating personalized experiences for every shopper. The store itself is completely mobile, and designed to be mass-produced so they can be deployed across the US or shipped anywhere around the world.
ShopWithMe will begin its 2015 Holiday tour in Chicago and will feature internationally recognized fashion brands, TOMS Shoes and Raven + Lily. Both collections will be integrated into the ShopWithMe experience. A full range of products will be featured on smart fixtures and customers will experience futuristic changing rooms that engage with the customers via interactive mirror displays, allowing customers to make purchases or request alternate products without leaving their changing room, providing unprecedented convenience for their shoppers.
“Our promise is to make retail simple and beautiful,” states Jonathan Jenkins, Founder and CEO of WithMe. “We provide the infrastructure and technology that brands need to activate a turn key interactive retail store and begin selling seamlessly, overnight. This is something that hasn’t been achieved by any retailer before.”
ShopWithMe is a moving, global destination for brands that want to engage their customers in a new and personalized way. The solution is built for both traditional retailers that are moving towards smaller showroom locations and online retailers that are looking to expand into physical stores. Brands move from city to city, while providing a limitless access to inventory, creating an “endless aisle” for shoppers. As retail stores continue to struggle in finding new ways to reach their customers, ShopWithMe brings an affordable turn key solution that proves the benefits of online shopping in a new type of physical store.
“We’re creating our very own ‘store of the future.’ Why should a new store have to be physically built for every brand? 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,” says Danielle Jenkins, Co-Founder of WithMe.
The vision of ShopWithMe is to build a network of smart stores all across the world which retailers can activate and deactivate within days. This will allow brands to go from zero stores to fifty overnight and then down to zero again a few weeks later.
“We are going to be doing for retail what the Amazon cloud did for technology companies. So many great tech companies have been formed over the last ten years because the cost of starting them has dropped significantly. Think of ShopWithMe retail stores like you do Amazon servers. We set up the infrastructure and all the brands have to do is flip a switch to scale up or down very quickly without the large upfront investment,” says Jonathan Jenkins, Founder and CEO of WithMe.
Deemed the “new shape of retail” by Entrepreneur Magazine, ShopWithMe is physically shape shifting the walls, and uses smart fixtures such as glass top digital displays and LED-driven decor within an architecturally designed masterpiece. During the time in the store a shopper will also be recommended product based on what they have been browsing. As you walk by, a shelf on the wall will actually move toward you to recommend you the item it holds.
“While the ShopWithMe fixtures and store experience is smart, it is also eliminating the traditional friction in brick-and-mortar retail,” says William Reid, VP of Payment of WithMe, who was a former Director of Innovation at Paypal before joining the company. “My favorite part of the store is the express checkout. If the shopper downloads our mobile app they can actually find a product they want in the store and literally walk out the door and we charge them as they leave. No more checkout lines.”
Thought leaders like the co-founders of ShopWithMe are at the forefront of retail’s evolution in the digital age. Blake Mycoskie, Founder and Chief Shoe Giver of TOMS Shoes, and Kirsten Dickerson, Founder of Raven + Lily, are fashion industry innovators that proved with their individual success stories that the future of retail will include consciously effective product manufacturing, marketing transparency, and corporate responsibility.
“We are thrilled to be a part of ShopWithMe’s innovative, sustainable store model. Customers are able to leverage technology to gain a deeper understanding of the story behind our products through their interactive kiosk. We look forward to seeing them introduce this new shopping experience to a wider audience,” states Kirsten Dickerson, Founder of Raven + Lily.
ShopWithMe is the smart store of the future- a perfect blend of the online and physical shopping worlds where the general public can come and access a curated, digital shopping experience. It is a viable solution for many retailers who are struggling in today’s economy to meet the needs of their customers and their products.
“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. The structure is composed of four self-contained units connected by a bridge spanning 43 ft. Cutting-edge mobile and tensile architectural systems allow for easy assembly, disassembly, and transport anywhere on the planet in a matter of days,” says Giorgio Borruso, Principal of Giorgio Borruso Design and Design Architect for ShopWithMe. “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. Fittingly, the first location for this mobile unit was Chicago’s Pioneer Court, where Jean Baptiste Point du Sable not only founded the city in the 1780’s, but also built its first retail trading post.”
ShopWithMe plans to bring its stores to Chicago, New York, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston and Miami in the coming months and will begin shipping stores globally at the first of the year. Maybe lenders can do the same thing. It’s just a thought to ponder.
About The Author
Tony Garritano is chairman and founder at PROGRESS in Lending Association. As a speaker Tony has worked hard to inform executives about how technology should be a tool used to further business objectives. For over 10 years he has worked as a journalist, researcher and speaker in the mortgage technology space. Starting this association was the next step for someone like Tony, who has dedicated his career to providing mortgage executives with the information needed to make informed technology decisions. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.