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AUAS researches world’s first Shopping Street Innovation Lab

19 May 2017 15:46 | Communication

Holograms in the jeweller’s shop window, a VR headset to watch the production process of the bonbon you are eating, and an interactive bar at the off-licence: for a period of one year from today, Amsterdam’s Beethovenstraat will be a prototype shopping street of the future. The aim? To make shopping fun (again) – and easier. The effect will be measured by researchers from Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS).

Amsterdam’s Beethovenstraat has been transformed into the Shopping Street Innovation Lab – the first ‘smart street’ in the world, where innovative technologies can be found that are aimed at putting the fun back into physical shopping. ‘It’s important that shopkeepers innovate to retain their reason for being’, Vincent van Dijk explains. Van Dijk works for trend agency HBMEO – one of the partners in the project. ‘Competition from online shops is murderous. Footfall and turnover are both constantly declining. Shops – large and small – have to respond to this’, he continues.

Future

AUAS is closely involved in the project. ‘Our university is training the professionals of the future – even though no one knows exactly what this will be like’, says AUAS researcher Anne Moes (from the Faculty of Digital Media and Creative Industries). ‘In cooperation with technology companies, the shopkeepers on Beethovenstraat and graduating students from AUAS, we will test which innovations are interesting to retailers. This will allow the technical parties to see how they can improve their products, shopkeepers can find out how customers respond to particular tools and we can prepare students for the retail sector of the future.’

VR headset

Confectioner Van Wely is experimenting with a VR headset that allows customers to gain insight into the traditional production process. Watching how your bonbon or strawberry ice cream is made – does this give any added value? According to Tibert Verhagen (researcher at AUAS’ Faculty of Business & Economics), yes. ‘It gives a real boost to the in-shop experience.’

Shopping street of the future

The VR headset allows the customer to literally see what’s cooking. Photo: Bryan Suiker

Holograms

The window display at Jesse Jewelry is empty. At least – there are no real rings, bracelets or earrings here. Customers peer through the window at a hologram, which shows the product from all sides by turning around. If the customer is interested, he or she can come in and try on the real thing. Spectacles retailer Eyewish has a solution for doubtful customers: examine and compare different frames using the digital mirror, have a photo taken and ask your friends and family what they think using social media.

The retailers in the Shopping Street Innovation Lab themselves decide which technology is interesting for their shop; AUAS researchers Verhagen and Moes advise them on this. They ascertain what an innovation does and – perhaps even more importantly – what it can mean to the shopkeeper. The results will be used to help retailers in other places in the Netherlands and abroad.

Shopping street of the future

This display unit talks about the bottle of wine placed on it. Photo: Bryan Suiker

Alongside AUAS, Amsterdam City Council, trend agency HBMEO, Stad&Co, retail consultant Q&A and Store of the Future are involved in the Shopping Street Innovation Lab.