“Today, people want something that feels individual to them.”
The newest buzz in retail experience is allowing shoppers to design their own products while they wait. As companies respond to demand for personalized items and faster production methods, they are localizing production and creating a tailored shopping experience.
The Nike Maker’s Experience, an invite-only program which opened this month in New York City’s SoHo district, allows visitors to create personalized Nikes in under an hour. Visitors could choose from different designs, or digitally create their own (by comparison, Nike’s online customization tool takes six to eight weeks).
For Nike, the project represents a “new process of live design and manufacturing that allows our guests to come into the space, work collaboratively with us and leave with a special product in less time than ever before,” said Mark Smith, VP of Innovation Special Projects, in a release. In August, Vans unveiled a new machine that would allow them to similarly print customized designs onto a pair of shoes within 15 minutes.
As technology advances, brands are upgrading their in-store offerings. In March, businesswear brand Ministry of Supply installed a 3D knitting machine in their Boston flagship store to let visitors customize an office blazer during their visit. The process takes about 90 minutes and costs $345. “This is step one of a longer route to a sustainable and strong production method that’s here to stay,” cofounder Aman Advani explained to Quartz.
Adidas launched the “Knit for You” pop-up in Berlin from December 2016 to February 2017, where customers could design their own sweaters. The experience involved entering a dark room where patterns were projected onto their chests, using hand gestures to move around patterns and test out different designs, and completing a full-body scan before sending their product to be printed.
The luxury and beauty industries are also embracing personalization. The St. Ives Mixing Bar, open this summer only in New York, lets customers make their own skincare products in-store. Similarly, Function of Beauty creates personalized shampoos and conditioners based on hair type for $36 a set.
Coach even has a leather workshop in its Fifth Avenue flagship where customers can place orders with an in-house craftsman. “Today, people want something that feels individual to them,” Stuart Vevers, executive creative director of Coach, told the New York Post.
The market for bespoke products is growing. According to a report by Deloitte, 34% of consumers are interested in personalized products or services, and 48% are willing to wait longer for them. As customers are becoming more interested in creative brand experiences, bespoke products, and transparency in production, in-store personalization is checking all the boxes.
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Main image: Function of Beauty.