As physical retail still counts for 93% of sales today, Farfetch has designed a unique way of linking online and offline worlds

Farfetch is a powerful rival to Net-a-Porter and MATCHESFASHION.COM in the luxury online market, but operates differently to its competitors. Where traditional retailers buy and hold stock, Farfetch acts as a web portal, or shop window, for boutiques around the globe. And, as other e-tailers strive to drive digital momentum, Farfetch is finding new ways to take its progressive online platform offline.

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If this seems like a step back, Farfetch has done its homework. ‘Even with online fashion growing at fast speed, physical retail will account for 80% of sales by 2025,’ founder José Neves explains. ‘Retailers need a way to collect information about their customers while they are browsing instore, just as they collect data from online searches.’

Farfetch’s Augmented Retail device will give stores access to customers’ vital stats (yearly spend, spend per visit, wish list) when they “check in” using the Farfetch SoF app. As the customer browses the RFID-enabled clothing rails, items will automatically register on his online wish list. Digital mirrors will allow him to set the mood of the changing rooms, and request alternative sizes and colours of his wish listed items. A mobile payment similar to Apple’s instore technology will subsequently mean he can escape queuing.

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Farfetch boutiques don’t need to sign up for all the gadgets and gizmos (those digi mirrors will undoubtedly be expensive) explains Neves: ‘Whatever in-store digital tools, technology or services each brand or store uses, the key value is in the data that will drive personalised meaningful customer experiences, and on the business side a significant competitive advantage.’

London’s Browns Fashion, which was acquired by Farfetch in 2015, will be the first to roll out the technology, and other boutiques will be able to buy into the concept come 2018. farfetch.com

Alice Newbold