Could This Be The Zara Of The Future?

Zara has officially opened its first click-and-collect concept store in London's Westfield shopping center, WWD reports. The Inditex-owned retail giant has launched a purpose-built space to accommodate shoppers while its flagship store, which is also located on the popular east London site, is being refurbished to double in size. The concept store will be open until May, when the brand's newer, bigger flagship opens once again.

The new location, measuring 2,152 square foot, has a dedicated space for collecting online purchases, while also stocking a selection of pieces from both menswear and womenswear. The biggest draw? Customers will be given the choice of receiving their items the same day if ordered before 2 p.m.

Not only does the concept store cater to your online shopping habits, but it also has some pretty high-tech features. Sales assistants will don mobile devices to help customers with sizes, stock, and collections, and you can pay by card via Bluetooth thanks to a nifty device at the register.

Alongside this, you can avoid lines altogether by paying for your vinyl trench coat or sock boots through an app; the Zara and Inditex Group apps both allow this, plus InWallet. There's also a self-service checkout, though we hope the user experience is less frustrating than those at CVS or the supermarket.

A kind of virtual styling tool is available in-store, too. Information screens will be embedded into mirrors, with customers able to scan barcodes of items using sci-fi-sounding radio frequency identification technology. Once the item is recognized, the internal system brings up "multiple choices for coordinating and combining the piece with other garments and accessories."

According to WWD, this futuristic shopping experience comes as part of Inditex's wider plan to slow down its growth in physical retail and instead focus its efforts on 'omnichannels.' Chairman and CEO of Inditex, Pablo Isla, said in a brand statement that this marks “another milestone in our strategy of integrating our stores with the online world, which represents an important part of our identity.”

So is this the future of the fast-fashion? According to Statista, online retail sales in the United States have grown from $72.1 billion in 2016 to approximately $81 billion in 2017, perhaps proving that we all want to get our shopping fix from the comfort of our desk or sofa. At the opposite end of the spectrum, independent and boutique brands are thriving, with pop-ups and smaller stores that offer personable and relaxing retail experiences. And maybe the success (or shortcomings) of Zara's innovative new spot will decide the physical future of Inditex's other labels.

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