Made has become the latest retailer to launch its own in-house technology innovation lab as it looks to put emerging approaches into operation as fast as possible.
The new Made labs team, based at Made’s Shoreditch headquarters, will work with start-ups to identify technologies and approaches that will create engaging shopping experiences for customers who want to find the right furniture and other homewares products and see how they would look in their own spaces. It says its Labs team will be unlike other incubators in that the aim is to work with the rest of the business to get innovations up and running on its platform as soon as they can.
The furniture business, which has taken the approach to cutting out the middleman between the designer and the end customer, and is ranked Top350 in IRUK Top500 research, has previously worked with start-ups including Hullabalook, which developed the retailer’s Sofasizer in order to help customers find the right sofa for their home or other space. Supersized touchscreens featuring Hullabalook’s colour, size and style picker developed for Made also feature in Made’s recently-expanded London showroom.
Other recent innovative technology launches at Made include a new online interior design service run in collaboration with French start-up hubstairs, which helps customers to see what their home would look like with Made furniture in it, using AI to recommend products and 3D technology to create a photo-quality view of the furnished room. The retailer is also using Go Instore technology in six showrooms from London and Redbrick, West Yorkshire to Paris and Amsterdam and to connect Made customers with in-store staff who can show them what the products they like the look of online look like up-close, while also answering their questions.
Start-ups will be invited to pitch their ideas to Made Labs at an event to be held later the year.
Jonathan Howell, chief technology officer at Made, said: “Made’s entrepreneurial spirit is fundamental to our business strategy; as a digitally-native brand, being at the forefront of technological developments is a key priority. We want to provide technology that is always one step ahead of our customers’ expectations.
“We are lucky enough to be based in the centre of one of the world’s best tech start-up communities. There are amazing things happening within those companies and we want to stay true to our entrepreneurial roots and collaborate with these businesses to get their ideas in front of our customers.”
He added: “At Made, we pride ourselves on relentless innovation and so a key challenge for us, as it should be for every business, is to continue to listen to what our customers want and action this, so we remain relevant in the changing consumer landscape.”
Made has previously said that it is working to meet the demands of a millennial generation that wants to combine both showrooms and digital within the shopping journey. But a store on its own is not enough: that store must include the fullest information about the products available through the use of digital in-store.
Image courtesy of Made