Properties & Leasing

REITech: Reimagining retail through innovation labs

Posted by: David Jamieson David Jamieson and Tom Taddeo Tom Taddeo
on April 3, 2015

We’ve been witnessing the disruption that technology has been having on retail, but what was once something that created anxiety is now creating tremendous opportunity, and retailers are now actively embracing these opportunities. Just last quarter, Macy’s invested billions of dollars toward a new effort that, in part, encourages shoppers to use their mobile device to search for and purchase apparel in its stores, while others have turned to virtual reality to create a next generation retail experience.

For these retailers, it’s not about fighting technological innovations or e-commerce trends, it’s about finding the optimal way to integrate those concepts into their brick-and-mortar sites to develop a fresher, more powerful customer experience.

Call it the new intersection between seeing, feeling, and believing; staying tethered to the shopper whether online or offline. Today’s consumers are accustomed to doing research online, but the power of interacting with a product directly continues to have major implications. Instead of driving customers to choose sides between the e-tailers and the physical shops, forward-thinking omni-channel retailers are merging these two worlds into an entirely new, integrated experience. How? Innovation labs.

Companies like Sears, The Home Depot, and Nordstrom, are preparing for the future of mass retail by developing their own innovation labs. But even for the most advanced corporations, vetting all of the emerging technologies can be a daunting task. In turn, organizations like Iterate Studio take the burden off of retailers and do the vetting for them. This third-party innovation lab acts like the sharing economy steward for startup technologies. It uncovers, curates, and selects maturing start-ups, and then validates them to ensure the start-up is not only safe but viable, with quantifiable business implications. As a result, companies are able to expedite the sourcing process and focus almost exclusively on those companies that add value to their business.

At a Glance

iBeacon: A new technology that extends Location Services in iOS that can alert apps when someone approaches or leaves a location with an iBeacon.

Percolata: Helps retailers better manage their employee workforce to meet actual customer demand with the goal of shaping the customer experience by ensuring that the best employees serve customers at the best times.

Imonggo: An inventory management, sales analysis and business intelligence platform.

Roambi for retail: An app that transforms your retail data into interactive visualizations on the iPhone or iPad. It helps managers access and analyze the business data they’d use on-site when they’re away from the office so they can make smart decisions even when they are on the go.

But the findings and developments trickling out of these innovation labs aren’t just applicable for national retailers. In fact, they are applicable to all retailers whether big or small. Keeping a close eye on new developments and industry announcements can help smaller shops stay on top of developing retail trends.

While iBeacons or virtual reality might not be essential for all businesses, companies such as Percolata may be a better fit. Regardless, set aside time to evaluate the digital and physical trends taking place in your industry, and develop realistic goals and strategies that would be beneficial to your organization.

Not sure where to start? Perhaps you can start by looking at free features to help manage your interactions with customers, or finding helpful new tools that will streamline your operations. Or maybe you’re ready to explore new inbound and outbound marketing techniques and their ROI. Already marketing? It could be time to look at social or mobile integration, and how to make more shareable multimedia content.

Integrating new technology into your retail operations? Leave a comment about what tech you incorporated or what you think is the next big thing for retail technology.


Great article! I couldn’t agree more in regards to the massive opportunity that exists for retailers, owners and developers. Stay connected with the omni channel shopper has never been more important.

With that being said, how can traditional brick and mortar retailers and property owners possibly adapt and stay ahead of the constantly evolving digital landscape and new technologies?

Take social networks for example. Ten years ago developers embraced FB as another marketing channel and then YouTube, Twitter, Foursquare, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapcha! The list goes on! International organizations are faced with the challenge of communicating with shoppers on International social networks like; WeChat, Ren Ren, VK and SinaWeibo.

In my opinion, new enterprise technology has to be intuitive enough for the most technically advanced group in the organization. This will empower them with the ability to innovate, create a digital centre of excellence, test new revenue models and stay ahead of the changing landscape and competition. However, Enterprise Technology also has to be easy enough to use, so that employees who may not have technical training, retailers and partners can adopt the technology in their various day to day roles.

Enterprise wide adoption of new technology is critical, after all what is the benefit of purchasing the latest technology, if it will not be adopted by consumer or client facing employees across the globe or portfolio and in the field?

Employee education, certification and role based tool training is crucial to a workforce adopting new technology


April 16, 2015

Andrew – Thank you for taking time and we greatly appreciate you sharing your insights. We all look forward to seeing what’s ahead in the convergence of brick & mortar and technology.

April 28, 2015

Great article! It’s an exciting time for brick and mortar retailers with so many new solutions to help elevate the in-store experience. It at the same time can be very risky with unknown ROI.

This June in Seattle, come hear from your peers about their experiences in rolling out these new technologies. Brands represented on our speaker faculty include Starbucks, Macy’s The Disney Store, The Home Depot, REI, Brooks Bothers, David’s Bridal and many more.

Email me for more info!

May 7, 2015

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