The Future Of Retail Is Invisible

 How does one shop at an invisible store? Step one is finding said store.  Once you've done so, the process of selecting merchandise and making payments is similar to how you'd make any ordinary online purchase.

GoldRun, a mobile augmented reality app, is working to change the way consumers interact with brands. The company partnered with Young & Rubicam to create an invisible pop-up store to sell limited-edition Airwalk sneakers.

Airwalk relaunched its Jim shoe (not to be confused with gym shoe)  and wanted to reach its target audience by erecting a store where Jim shoes are typically worn: in parks and beaches.

Not everyone visiting Venice Beach in Los Angeles or Washington Square Park in New York City on Nov. 6 were privy to the pop-up stores, because they were invisible to the naked eye.

Enter GoldRun.

Fans of Airwalk were well aware of the impending invisible pop-up stores through blog postings on  SneakerFreaker, KicksonFire and Hypebeast, among others, and an email blast to Airwalk's customer database.

Consumers interested in buying Airwalks' Ladies Jim Plastic or Men's Jim Tennis shoes had to download GoldRun's free app, show up at Venice Beach or Washington Square Park and take pictures of the virtual sneakers found at each locale. In others words, you couldn't phone this one in; consumers had to be present to take pictures with their GPS-enabled smartphones that confirmed their whereabouts. Only then would consumers receive a link to purchase one of the 300 limited edition pairs of sneakers.

The GoldRun app is compatible with iPhone 3G or higher. "We loved the notion of selling the shoe where it's most relevant to the brand and their consumers," said Menno Kluin, creative director at Young & Rubicam. "It's the perfect idea to relaunch the shoe in a new way that still reinforces the brand heritage."

No paid media promoted the invisible pop-up stores, which took a few months of preparation to create. "The actual placing of the shoe in the location and creating the run on Goldrun was relatively easy and quick," said Kluin. "The biggest challenge was to find a partner that had the technical capability to bring our idea to life."
4 comments about "The Future Of Retail Is Invisible".
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  1. Diana Walter from Copeland Communications, December 20, 2010 at 5:12 p.m.

    I think this is a great creative idea but I would be interested in seeing the results of this capaign and how many potential purchases were lost at each step as consumers have to downlod the app, be at the right location, like the product, feel confortable with the price point and finally purchase.
    Though I am a HUGE fan of creative media and augmented reality, how can we make it easier for the consumer to pass all these threshholds without losing them?

  2. David Thurman from Aussie Rescue of Illinois, December 21, 2010 at 9:24 a.m.

    How many Android or BB users were left out of the potential sale. Tsk, tsk, tsk...

  3. Jeff Bach from Quietwater Media, December 21, 2010 at 10:48 a.m.

    D & D, I think both of you are jumping a bit too far ahead and asking a bit much of a still immature technology. Tech history suggests that AR is following the basic trendline of tech development and maturity.

    David, imo, you are also following the predictable trendline of immediately jumping to the exceptions. Given that this seems to be a trend common across humanity, I'll bet most of us are also on that trendline as well. In early stages, a successful project of limited scope proves the concept, it should not be shot down for what it lacks (to me anyway).

    What I find surprising in this article is that a manufacturer and its holding company-owned giganto agency was aware of an early stage technology. Further, they had to work at finding a partner that was capable of executing the idea. To me this is a shock and is not at all how this stuff usually works. Someone at Y&R is not fitting the expected big agency stereotype. Complements to them. The difficulty in finding a partner with the AR tech expertise also shows the infancy in which this AR tech is still laboring.

    It seems to me that AR is one big deal away from going mainstream. An Apple or an Android has to include the plugin in their base OS. Problem solved. Common use by the common smart phone owner would then be possible. MSFT including the Flash plugin in the old IE browser is the first precedent I arrive at that suggests how AR's widespread acceptance may occur. Which of several AR plugins that is, remains to be seen. Once AR is deemed "big enough" look for Apple or Google to swoop in, buy the little company that owns the AR patents we go into the new AR world.
    my .02

  4. Doug Garnett from Protonik, LLC, December 21, 2010 at 5:32 p.m.

    Interesting idea and it's fun to see the creative play. But I just hate headlines like this and this is essentially a kiosk - nothing very new.

    We were bombarded in the 1990's with "retail will die; online will rule". Of course it didn't happen. Retail is hard work and it's the route for the vast majority of consumer sales.

    It's unlikely to "dramatically" change. Evolve - yes. And, more companies are getting savvy to clever kiosk ideas like this one.

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