Store of the Future: inside the new Dubai shop with sensors and magic mirrors

Outlet at Mall of the Emirates aims to bring the convenience of e-commerce into the physical retail space

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At a new store in Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates, you can see how a certain shade of lipstick looks on you without touching the product, or learn more about an outfit via nearby screens simply by picking it up.

On Monday, Majid Al Futtaim, in partnership with tech giant Cisco, unveiled Store of the Future, which aims to bring the best features of e-commerce into the physical retail space.

How does it work?

Store of the Future carries a number of womenswear, menswear, beauty and homeware brands on rotation. However, it's not the store's products that are unique, rather a series of cameras, sensors and artificial intelligence technology that work in harmony to personalise the shopping experience for customers.

Store of the Future is a multi-brand retail space. Photo: Pawan Singh / The National

To start, sensors are used to create a “Lift and Learn” feature which sense when a product has been picked off a shelf and immediately loads pictures or videos of the product on screen.

To add to the experience, there are “Magic Mirrors” placed around the store. Scan the barcode of the product on the mirror and it reveals its price, sizes available, other colours (if any) and, also, much like when shopping online, suggests matching pairings or similar items that go with the product or brand.

A QR code can be scanned to add the product to a virtual shopping cart, allowing the customer to checkout digitally, although paying at the counter is also an option.

Meanwhile, the space also features Beauty Mirrors, so customers can get a clear look at how the make-up complements them, including eyeshadows and lipsticks, allowing guests to see how shades look on their faces.

What’s new about this shopping experience?

Screens in the store change according to products picked up by the customer. Pawan Singh / The National

Store of the Future uses wireless infrastructure location service analytics and cloud-based ceiling cameras to provide consumer behaviour insights and analytics.

The technology can monitor a number of visitors, demographics, footfall, heatmaps, physical distancing and even the mood of those entering the store. The analytics can then be used to offer visitors a personalised shopping experience; for example, the digital display screens in the store change content based on age and gender of customers walking in.

A lot of these functions are also geared towards providing customers with a sense of safety in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. For example, the sensors can also track store capacity, physical distancing and mask wearing.

Retail trends have to cater to everything and your in-store experience has to be like your at-home experience
Reem Asaad, vice president, Middle East and Africa, Cisco

“We’ve learnt over the past two years that everyone needs to feel comfortable and safe when visiting malls, which is why one of reasons that the Store of the Future was designed was to provide an experience that simplifies shopping and offers limited contact when compared to a traditional store,” explains Fuad Sharaf, managing director of UAE Shopping Malls at Majid Al Futtaim Properties.

The overall focus is about bringing the best parts of the e-commerce world – the safety and efficiency – into the physical world.

“Some individuals know exactly what they want but they want to go in and see the product before buying it,” says Reem Asaad, vice president, Middle East and Africa, Cisco. "Others want to actually feel it and try it out. Retail trends have to cater to everything and your in-store experience has to be like your at-home experience.

“All the analytics are anonymous, but at an elevated level that helps visitors have a tailor-made experience while helping retailers understand buying behaviour.”

That Concept Store is the first retailer to take over Store of the Future. Majid Al Futtaim’s home-grown brand, which has branches in Mall of the Emirates and City Centre Mirdif, will display a series of pieces until February.

Store of the Future also features a space for live-streaming, events and masterclasses.

Store of The Future is located at L1, Opposite Harvey Nichols in Mall of the Emirates.

Updated: January 24, 2022, 3:16 PM