What if I told you that I created a toy store where customers can transform themselves into their favourite toy character… you would be thinking that’s pretty cool right?
What if I told you that your three biggest costs of staff, stock and rent could all be zero for that store… now you’re thinking that I might be a little cuckoo right?
I trialled an Augmented Reality Mirror in my store for costumes and masks just before the pandemic in 2019 and it was fun, a great gimmick and had some good marketing and social power. In-store, customers loved them and they made for a great customer experience. However, they were expensive and outside of a great brand experience, finding a profitable way to use them was challenging.
So I had an idea to make the mirror a stand alone store that paid for itself. I had a vision that the mirror would be perfect for fashion stores, costumes stores and toy stores to use as a pop-up location in a shopping mall, but also in dead spaces such as on a wall, shopfront hoarding so people can interact and shop with a brand before it opens or in a closed stores window after hours so people could literally window shop (not window browse).
Fast forward a false start and a few months later and now Uber, Lendlease, Shopify, StockInStore, Preezie, Starshipit, ShopExp and The Party People have come together to create a new retail channel, the Magic Mirror. Through Augmented reality, customers can try on fashion items and checkout on the spot, potentially with Uber getting it to their house before they get home.
With a virtual assistant, the mirror can guide the user and without the need for any additional stock the retailer can fulfill the order from the eCommerce channel.Dean Salakas
A project like this would have cost me approximately $150,000 to integrate all the tech needed to convert the existing try-on mirrors to be checkout enabled which was the challenge I initially faced but the companies above that came together have fully funded this, and it is likely the innovation won’t have cost me a cent to create and do a real world trial. Best of all, now I have created the technology (and already paid all the costs with thanks to my sponsors), I can roll this out to every Shopping Centre in the country with no staff at the stores, minimal rent and minimal extra stock due to my existing eCommerce business being the fulfillment. Scaling this is relatively low incremental cost, which is exciting.
This October I will be trialling the Magic Mirror as its own pop-up store in a Lendlease Shopping Centre to sell costumes. Customers will be able to try on items, then checkout and have Uber deliver it to their house. I don’t know how many costumes this might sell but that’s what the trial is for; to learn how customers use it and how they purchase. I have learned in my experience with innovation that customers are going to do things with this that I haven’t thought of yet, so I am excited to see what we learn from the trial in October.
For toys, this also offers the opportunity for customers to be their favourite character and I think this will be great for enhancing in-store experience but also for new toy launches.
Stay tuned to The Bugg Report and I will give an update on the pilot and what I learned later this year. If you want to come along to trial the mirror, hit me up on LinkedIn and I will let you know the location, as its not public information just yet. Have a great Halloween and Christmas trade guys!
Dean Salakas — Chief Party Dude
Connect with Dean on LinkedIn