Uniqlo's vending machines and other quirky retail experiences giving shopping a makeover

Forget swiping your credit card at the checkout on your next shopping spree -- the latest fashion retail trend is an altogether quirkier purchasing experience.



This week, Japanese retailer Uniqlo unveiled its 'Uniqlo to Go' vending machines, which will appear in US airports over August. Shoppers can purchase items from the brand's 'Lifewear' line via a fluid interface, with the clothes then delivered by a robotic arm. Uniqlo indicated that the machines may also be rolled out in other locations from shopping malls to movie theaters.

But Uniqlo isn't the only fashion brand seeking out surprising ways to engage with customers. 

July 29 saw the New York launch of Alexander Wang's second fashion collection for Adidas Originals. Rather than have die-hard fans queue for the new pieces, Wang came up with an interactive retail strategy allowing shoppers to order the clothes via text, using product codes on posters displayed across the city. The orders were then delivered to customers by cyclists dressed in the new collection themselves.

Another surprising recent retail shakeup came courtesy of Tommy Hilfiger, who first broke with the traditional fashion calendar in September 2016 with the interactive catwalk experience 'TommyNow'. The two-day fashion show took the form of a fun fair, where customers shopped the collection via interactive screens.

In February Hilfiger showcased his second collaboration with supermodel Gigi Hadid in LA, in a similarly exciting setting. This show came with an app titled 'Tommyland Snap:Shop', which meant guests could buy pieces from the collection by simply taking photographs of the models.

So is the classic retail experience dying? Uniqlo, Wang and Hilfiger are in the minority for now. But even brick-and-mortar shopping is changing subtly. Ralph Lauren and Rebecca Minkoff have recently experimented with interactive dressing room mirrors that let customers choose different colors and sizes via a touch-enabled interface. And in 2016 French beauty brand L'Occitane unveiled its first ‘Smart Beauty Fitting Room', allowing shoppers to browse digitally in private. For the moment, quirky shopping experiences have never been so on trend.
 

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