The retail innovation consultancy HighStreet Collective has launched what it calls a Living Retail Lab, a unique project inside a city market in High Street’s hometown of Atlanta. The boutique consultancy has also formalized a partnership with NEC, to use that company’s retail-centric intelligence analytics platform, called ALP, at the lab.
Instead of a pure lab in a showroom or back office somewhere – where gadgets get tested and demo’d – this is a working store, called Citizen Supply.
Self-identified as a “curated artisan marketplace,” the store features over 150 hand-selected vendors of hand-made, select goods from sustainable businesses. The 12,000 square foot store is also a community destination, boasting maker workshops, events, gatherings and, recently added, a bar featuring libations and light bites from local chefs and mixologists.
My eyes roll when I see curated, artisan, libations and mixologist in one precious paragraph … but whatever.
One of the rather amazing things is a bar right in the heart of the store – so people like me can hang out while those who actually like to shop can do their thing.
“Core to the Living Retail Lab is analytics,” says HighStreet Co-Founder Laura Davis-Taylor, who put together the lab with business partner Ed King. “We’ve been looking for a system that can make it easier to automate, and ALP is it—and so much more. We’re really excited to put it to work and share our findings!”
The Living Retail Lab is touted as an ideal trifecta for testing store innovation initiatives: “a perfectly appointed store, busy excited shoppers in their natural habitat and compelling, in-store experiences measured by the best tools in the industry.”
“NEC’s ALP is a cure for a monumental industry challenge,” says King. “We’ve been preaching for years that we need to view stores as physical websites and use the same data-focused, measurement nomenclature to test and learn what works. It all comes together to create amazing shopping experiences, as well as aiding and abetting revenue. Let’s be real—in retail today, everything eventually comes down to increasing revenue.”
“The Living Retail Lab is the perfect setting to showcase the invaluable, actionable insights NEC ALP can deliver,” says Kelly Harlin, Analytics Platform Strategist at NEC Display. “We’re excited to sponsor the Living Retail Lab and continue to drive innovation of the NEC ALP platform while providing real-time business intelligence and analytics to Citizen Supply that can elevate their business to the next level.”
“I make no bones about how important experimentation is to me, but there’s only so much that I can learn by physical observation,” says Phil Sanders, proprietor of Citizen Supply. “I’m really excited to tap into this mind-blowing system to see what it can do to help me better understand what’s working for business, my vendors, and my customers.”
This video does a nice job of showing the venue for the lab and its dynamics, even with a staged but insightful whiteboard planning exercise.
Figuring out that digital menus make more sense than manual letter boards is no great revelation, but this is more about the thinking of the venue dynamics and measurement of whether the screens and strategy work.
I know Laura is in Orlando next week for InfoComm if people wanted to chase her down. As you might expect, NEC will have ALP front and center at the trade show, even though InfoComm isn’t much of a magnet for retail decision-makers.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for more than 13 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia.