SYDNEY — Afterpay is coming for the phy-gital retail arena.
On Wednesday morning Sydney time, the buy now, pay later platform unveiled an experiential “physi-digital” retail space called the Edit Collection at Sydney’s Chatswood Chase shopping mall, in partnership with the Australian Fashion Council and Vicinity Centres.
Four emerging Australian brands and collectives will be showcased in the space over a rotating eight-week roster, launching with Bondi Born, to be followed by My General Store, the First Nations Fashion and Design Indigenous brand collective and Esse Studios.
Designed by Sydney-based art director Kyle Jonsson, the minimalist-look pop-up features hangers made from upcycled marine plastics, ocean-bound plastics and postconsumer plastics by Dutch manufacturer Arch & Hook.
But the space is primarily a pilot for new retail technology that has been developed and will be rolled out in stages by Simon Molnar, cofounder and chief executive officer of a tech start-up called eTale, with some of the products developed in collaboration with Melbourne-based retail tech start-up ShopExp. Molnar also happens to be the brother of Afterpay cofounder and co-CEO Nick Molnar and a member of Afterpay’s data analytics team.
Yet to be officially launched, eTale has developed a Bluetooth chip that will be tagged in every garment merchandised in store, which will be 1,000 to 2,000 units per business in the Edit Collection, according to Afterpay.
The tags allow every item to be tracked in real time across the store and interact with Smart Mirror technology in the fitting rooms, helping customers gain further insights into the products, and immediately delivering data on the most engaged, most tried and most sold pieces back to the businesses.
The fitting rooms will also feature gesture-controlled screens equipped with cameras that allow customers to shoot and share selfies.
“We’ve tried to keep everything under wraps so we can hit the market with a bang,” said Molnar.
“Our focus is winning our backyard first and so we want to get it right in Australia and once we’ve nailed it locally then we’ll start exploring internationally,” he added.
“The bigger picture is to take it global. We want to be the backbone of brick-and-mortar retail across the world. We want every decision that that physical retailer makes to be using our technology to make that decision. It’s about creating as many data points as possible for retailers so that they can really work and operate at maximum efficiency to achieve the best results possible.”
Originally due to be unveiled in August, the Edit Collection launch was delayed due to Sydney’s COVID-19 lockdowns.
“The last 20 months have been tough for retail and with Afterpay’s recent Lockdown Liberation study finding two-thirds of young Australians missed being able to physically look and feel the products they are buying during lockdown, there has never been a better time to support physi-digital retail as Australia starts to open back up,” said Kirsty Ghahramani, Afterpay director of in-store.