BRINGING RETAIL TO THE PEOPLE

Retail as a service delights customers and turns small boutiques into mini retail labs.

Megan Berry was earning her MBA in St. Louis when she had an idea for a small business. A six-feet-by-six-feet business, to be exact. While the physical dimensions of Berry’s business may be small, her idea is a big one, and the potential it has to help brick-and-mortar retailers compete in the digital era is huge.

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Megan Berry was earning her MBA in St. Louis when she had an idea for a small business. A six-feet-by-six-feet business, to be exact. While the physical dimensions of Berry’s business may be small, her idea is a big one, and the potential it has to help brick-and-mortar retailers compete in the digital era is huge.

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"Popup shops offer a fully immersive opportunity for customers and a very personalized way to buy."

Berry’s innovation is a tiny, portable popup shop called by REVEAL. It requires only 30 minutes to set up and boasts two fitting rooms. It’s waterproof and comes equipped with its own power supply. The micro boutique brings a unique, engaging, and convenient shopping experience to customers when and where they want it.

“Popup shops offer a fully immersive opportunity for customers and a very personalized way to buy,” said Berry, 28, who now studies at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.  

The customer experience upside of by REVEAL is obvious. But the benefit to the retailer is revolutionary. Call it retail as a service.

Just as software as a service or infrastructure as a service transformed information technology with more agile and efficient computing models, retail as a service—also driven by technology—offers retailers a simple and cost-effective way to test new products, woo new customers, and experiment with new locations.

“We know that there's declining store traffic. But people are going to parks, and museums, and concerts,” said Intel’s Rachel Mushahwar. “So, how do designers, brands, and retailers bring their products to where the consumer is? With a six-by-six popup shop that two people can set up in 30 minutes. You can showcase your brand to the consumer where they are.”  

Some two dozen up-and-coming and established brands have used by REVEAL to let customers experience their products in diverse locations across the United States, ranging from the bustle of New York Fashion Week to suburban malls hungry for foot traffic and novel customer experiences.

In September, emerging women designers in Texas used by REVEAL to show off their designs in Dallas.

Bringing a high-end fashion experience to more people is one of by REVEAL primary use cases. Late last year, at the peak of the holiday shopping season, fashion icon and designer Rachel Zoe used by REVEAL to show and sell items in her collection at Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City, NY.

Rachel Zoe has an ecommerce site, and in February she opened a small store in Los Angeles, but by REVEAL allowed shoppers in the suburbs of New York City to experience her quintessentially LA fashion up close and personal.

By reveal's bottom-line results have been impressive. in some instances, the tiny boutique has generated an astonishing $6000 per square foot.

The key word is experience.
Traditional retailers seeking a path to long-term viability in the age of digital commerce need to offer customer experiences that are as convenient, seamless, and personalized as the ones buyers have when they shop online.

By REVEAL’s bottom-line results have been impressive. In some instances, the tiny boutique has generated an astonishing $6,000 per square foot.

Of course, the idea behind bringing goods to the customer is hardly a new invention. Popup stores have been part of the urban landscape for at least a decade, and some of the biggest, most famous names in 20th century retail started out as pushcarts during the last decades of the 19th century.

A large part of what makes by REVEAL special is the technology built into the boutique. By REVEAL has fitting room screens with “endless aisles” technology that allows the retailer to showcase items that are for sale, but not in the boutique. By REVEAL also has the Intel® Responsive Retail Platform. RFID tags linked to a smart platform allow by REVEAL operators to track inventory and see in nearly real time how customers are engaging with products.

“Part of what we're doing with by REVEAL, and the brands that are showcased in there, is we're providing analytics, advanced analytics, back to the brands and back to the retailers so they can see, in real time, how are consumers interacting with their products,” said Mushahwar. “Is the yellow bag selling? Are people spending more time looking at the white t-shirt? What are the products that are being picked up? And using sensing technology, we're able to detect all of the emotions that go into making those purchases, and provide that information back to the brands so the brands can make better decisions.”

This is where by REVEAL really helps retailers optimize their operations.

“By REVEAL allows you to get data and analytics in a very contained setting, almost like a living lab,” said Michelle Tinsley, a director at Intel’s Retail Solutions Division. “This is where we're really starting to see a blending or a blurring of the lines between ecommerce and in-store.”

"This generation of innovators is really focused on creating compelling and enjoyable experiences that provide the customer with real value."

As retailers transform to compete and win in this new environment, a “living lab” is an invaluable asset for experimenting with advanced analytics as a means to more personalized service, and getting the right item to the right customer at the right price.

Berry said the collaboration with Intel has helped her young business push the envelope of what’s possible. “We’ve been able to leverage Intel’s phenomenal ecosystem to help brands and designers of all sizes,” Barry said. “Intel is an excellent technology partner.”

Despite multiple successful real-world trials, by REVEAL is still in the incubation stage and rapidly growing. Berry and by REVEAL are in the second cohort of XRC Labs, “an innovation accelerator” attached to the Parsons School of Design at the New School in New York City.

XRC Labs’ mission is to “foster companies and products that innovate the face of retail and consumer goods fulfillment in a rapidly changing marketplace using design thinking as a key driving process.” 

Joel Towers, Executive Dean of Parsons School of Design, said by REVEAL solves a crucial issue for traditional retailers as well as up-and-coming designers and brands: “Why should people go to stores? That’s a very important question for retailers. This generation of innovators is really focused on creating compelling and enjoyable experiences that provide the customer with real value.”

Berry’s little big idea is taking off. “Each month brings new opportunities for us to offer unexpected things in unexpected places,” said Berry. “We want to be a leader in retail as a service.” 

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