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ZaraMilanStore1This past week had the pleasure of visiting the new Zara Concept Store in Milan, Italy. Located near to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the oldest retail malls in the world, this Inditex owned location is the perfect bridge to the future of retail.  

What do you do when you decide that a major flagship location in the fashion capital of the world needs a physical upgrade? If you are Zara, you close the majority of the store and leverage the elegant entrance to test a new retail concept. 

Walking through the entryway you can very quickly visualize the intersection of online and the physical retail store. Uncluttered physical clothing racks are overshadowed by a large digital screen displaying the latest fashions. Simplicity meets digital innovation. 

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Ask any of the dressed in black mobile empowered associates and they will explain the unique 'click & collect' experience. Some goods are available immediately from a nearby warehouse while others arrive to your home in 24 to 48 hours.

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Exclusivity, a critical element for the personalizing the future of retail, is built into the Zara concept model. If you want that new Zara blouse, you need to travel to this store in Milan. 

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Purchased products that are available in the nearby warehouse are speed delivered to associates. The Segway is on the way.

Zara's Innovation Statement in the Fashion Capital of the World

From speaking to industry insiders, this Milan concept stores is delivering positive results both in customer engagements and in actual retail sales. It is small, yet very busy location.

The concept of 'fast fail' is alive in this store. "Fail fast isn’t about the big issues, it’s about the little ones. It’s an approach to running a company or developing a product that embraces lots of little experiments with the idea that some will work and grow and others will fail and die."

A similar high-tech 'click & collect' store is open in the Westfield Shopping Center where industry insiders are indicating less success. Zara can take the lessons learned from both the UK and Italy locations to optimize the physical / online retail formula. 

Imagine the possibilities of opening similar digitally enhanced locations in much smaller cities across the globe. No need to invest in expansive physical infrastructure to expand the brand's reach. Smaller stores in lots more cities leveraging digital disruption to deliver innovative customer engagements. 

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Showcasing the Fast Fashion Future of Retail

Smartphones and social media are leading to greater immersive customer experiences. Coupled with exclusivity and fast fashion models, these technologies personalize shopping, e.g. the latest unique fashions in our hands faster to showcase our personality.  

This Zara experiment is only the beginning. Do envision that artificial intelligence using augmented and virtual reality solutions will take this model to the next level. Not only will you be able to feel the product, but you can virtually wear it before you walk out of the digitally connected store.  

Milan was the perfect location for this innovation experiment. In the proximity of this store are multiple of the world's most valuable retail brands, many of which are being disrupted by the fast fashion model. From one of the world's oldest malls, Zara showcased the fast fashion future of retail. 

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