North Face Store’s Disapearing Floor, DHL Delivery Drones and the Future of Retail Innovation

What would you do if during your shopping experience the store’s floor suddenly disappeared?

“What would you do if during your shopping experience the store’s floor suddenly disappeared? That’s what these consumers had to figure out in the middle of a North Face shop. South Korea’s North Face, along with creative agency, Innored, has created a real adventure scenario in a pop-up store. The action, entitled Never Stop Exploring, brought the taste of a challenge to real life,” according to Branding Magazine.

The South Korea-based agency, Innored’s goal was to create a more enjoyable and impressive way to deliver the key message. In the pop-up store consumers find themselves amidst the unfolding of an absurd situation … from the ceiling to the floor store clothes are disappearing. Forced to act on their instincts, consumers are challenged with the notion: “Will I jump to get the North Face down jacket, or will I hesitate?”

Shoppers are literally caught in between more than a rock and a hard place; and forced to climb and take a leap of faith to get their hands on the latest product release. The ‘Never Stop Exploring’ campaign by North Face gives consumer engagement a whole new meaning.

The gamble seems to have paid off — sending the online video of startled customers viral to the tune of 5 million views and counting.


Brave New World of Retail Innovation

Companies like North Face confirm what we already knew about experiential branding in retail—this is just the beginning.

The 2013 KPMG Retail Industry Outlook survey confirms, “in today’s ever-evolving and dynamically changing retail industry, traditional business models and customer segments can no longer be taken for granted. Technology has blurred the lines and created a retail industry open for business anytime, anywhere and in any way the customer prefers to shop. The possibilities for effectively engaging consumers are limited only by imagination, and each advance in new technology brings excitement and anticipation of a brighter future for the retail industry.”

According to the “‘Retail Technology Vision 2014’ [report] from Accenture [they have hedged bets on] an incredible prediction: ‘The next five years will bring more change to retail than the last 100 years.’ Think about that; the stores, websites, and apps we recognize today could go through some radical changes that would’ve been the stuff of sci-fi just a generation ago.” (Source: FOX Business)


Driving Retail Innovation

Innovation may seem costly for small businesses or simply out of reach for various industries. But companies large and small are proving this is not the case.

For example, consider Los Angeles-based The Left Shoe Company. They are literally at the forefront of the ‘made to measure’ revolution. This footwear manufacturer takes personalization to a new level by putting a customers’ feet through a 3D scan that takes 150 pictures. The photos are then sent to Portugal, where the shoes are made to order.



Meanwhile in a notably ‘unsexy’ industry like shipping and logistics “DHL has announced they are now launching a regular drone delivery service using an autonomous quadcopter to deliver small parcels to the German island of Juist in the North Sea which is only inhabited by 2,000 people. Deliveries will include medication and other goods that may be ‘urgently needed’. This is believed to be the first commercial drone delivery service, beating both Amazon and Google in hitting this first milestone.” (Source: Retail-Innovation.com) While routine deployment is years away, developments like these may ultimately change the face, and logistics, of retail.

If footwear, shipping, and outdoor product innovation doesn’t impress you consider this coffee company’s attempt to create the most advanced coffee vending machine (i.e., digital barista) in the world.

Costa Coffee, the world’s second largest coffee chain, has developed a coffee vending machine, codenamed Marlow, that boasts “a multi-sensory coffee shop experience has the ability to captivate all five senses. Customers will be able to hear, see, touch, smell and taste all the different elements that you would see in a Costa coffee shop.” (Source: Retail-Innovation.com)


While you may not have the cash to develop your own technology, small businesses can seek to leverage third-party innovations outside of their industry and apply them directly to their business model. Joint ventures and digital partnerships are undoubtedly the future for smaller brands that aim to innovate in a bigger way.

Ultimately, exploring the uses of technology and experiential marketing can forge a bright and brave new future for your retail business. Every small business can take a page from ‘the innovative brand’s playbook’ and venture to never stop exploring.


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