retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Now this is my idea of looking into the future of retailing…

Advertising Age writes about how home improvement chain Lowe's, looking to figure out what the future of its industry might look like, is using science fiction writers to help them.

"A lot of companies have outside spaces, but we approach it in a different way, through science-fiction prototyping," says Kyle Nel, executive director of Lowe's Innovation Labs, where the company creates and tests new technologies. "You take all of your market research, all of your trend data and hire professional science-fiction writers. And they write real stories with conflict and resolution and characters. We turned it into a comic book and created possible stories or visions of the future."

For example, one of those stories "involved giving homeowners the ability to envision remodeling projects with augmented reality."

"Because it was a sci-fi story, it really opened up people's imaginations to understand what was possible," Nel says. "Now that we've gone through it, it seems weird we wouldn't work in this way."

In a paragraph that sounds like it could have come out of "Star Trek," Ad Age writes that "the first project to come out of the Labs and science fiction-prototyping is the 'Holoroom.' The 20-foot- by-20-foot room allows customers to simulate renovation projects. Customers can create realistic rooms on an iPad -- stocked with anything Lowe's sells, right down to Valspar paint colors -- and then enter the Holoroom to experience a 3D version of the room. An app, paired with a printout of the room, allows customers to view and adjust their 3D creation at home, as well as share it with friends."

It isn't a far jump, I think, from a Holoroom to a Holodeck and a Holosuite.

Like I said, it's the final frontier….

And an Eye-Opener.
KC's View: