Innovation Labs to Watch: Part 2
Continuing our series of Innovation Labs to Watch, today we’re bringing you three labs that have been making a buzz these last few months…
SEPHORA Innovation Lab
Announced in early March, SEPHORA is one of the latest additions to the labs scene, marrying together beauty and technology to redefine their shoppers’ experiences. A fellow believer in fast iteration, SEPHORA spins up new ideas and immediately puts them to the test in an exact replica of their store built into an unmarked warehouse in the Dogpatch area of San Francisco. “[Innovation] will not only help sell more makeup, but the right makeup” says Bridget Dolan, SEPHORA Innovation Lab VP. We can expect to see 4 new innovations roll out in the coming months:
- Pocket contour: mobile app where you take a picture of your face and it shows you how to properly contour your makeup.
- Augmented reality videos: hold your phone up to images in the store and it will show you relevant videos including interviews and product overviews.
- Beacons: On trend with retailers around the world, opted-in users will experience in store alerts regarding their loyalty program, store events, and birthday bonuses.
- SEPHORA Flash: A program that gives subscribers free 2-day shipping on all programs.
Home Depot’s Georgia Tech Lab
Earlier this year Home Depot partnered with Georgia Tech to create the first University based innovation lab. Tapping into the talent of some of the brightest engineers-to-be, Home Depot is testing out use cases for 3D printing and virtual and augmented realities. “These are technologies that are just emerging into the market, and nobody knows if they’re ready yet… or if so, how to use it in the stores”, says Martin Key, Director of The Home Depot Technology Center. The opportunity is a win-win as students are given a unique opportunity to get first hand experience developing products for a Fortune 50 corporation.
Nordstrom Innovation Lab
Opening four years ago, Nordstrom was one of the first of the large retailers to test the innovation lab waters. The lab showed a number of early successes including facilitating the purchase of the online clothing service, Trunk Club, integrating technology into fitting rooms to better track what items are being brought in, and allowing Instagram followers to make purchases through the app. It seemed like Nordstrom was on the right track, which is why it was such a shock when earlier this year they announced a decision to greatly scale back the labs. Since the announcement, most of the lab’s employees have been shifted to roles at the main company and its homepage currently displays, in large, bold lettering: “We’re Currently Pivoting…We are currently working on a new website that reflects our recent changes in our process and purpose.” One opinion is that a lack of focus is to blame for the slim down, however, Nordstrom sees the new distribution of talent as a way to better integrate the practice of innovation into the company as a whole, “Rather than just a team focused on innovation, it’s now everyone’s job,” says a Nordstrom spokesperson.
Photo Credit: Fast Company