Loom is a multi-brand menswear store that stocks a mixture of premium apparel. They have two stores, one based in Parkhurst, Johannesburg and one in Bree Street, Cape Town.
Loom needed to increase their retail footprint, enhance product storytelling and generate talkability but as an independent retailer, they couldn’t splash out on TV ads.
We used technology both online and offline to create a new set of digital experiences that engaged customers with emotive, shoppable content, whilst reimagining the traditional retail experience.
MAKING IMMERSIVE RETAIL A REALITY
Loom’s online and physical worlds collided to create an entirely new and engaging shopping experience. From the pavement to the packaging, both passersby and loyal customers were exposed to a new realm of retail that went beyond a simple purchase. By developing a highly integrated experience, we helped to establish Loom as a hub for innovation, whilst setting a new benchmark for immersive retail in South Africa.
THE WORLD’S FIRST REAL WORLD E-COMMERCE SITE
South Africans have been slow in adopting e-commerce. To launch Loom’s online store, we created interactive window installations in their Parkhurst store. We took advantage of the store’s location, a vibrant suburb in Johannesburg, by setting up window installations that passersby could interact with, even after closing hours.
Passersby could use NFC-enabled smartphones to activate the window installations, play with products and make purchases through a mobile site that mirrored and introduced the new Loom online store. The installations accentuated product features – so passersby could switch on fans that demonstrated the lightweight material in Fred Perry’s raincoat range. They could test the functionality of the Berlin Boombox by playing and changing songs and they could view the intricate craftsmanship of the new Nike Woven range from any angle, simply by manipulating the products using their mobile phones.
THE TILL SLIP THAT SPEAKS TO CUSTOMERS
We wanted customers to leave the Loom store with something more than just their purchase. Inspired by BERG’s Little Printer, we explored the value of till slips and sought to encourage consumer engagement by providing functional and fun content through an existing and familiar shopping item. Rather than something that is easily discarded, we transformed the till slip into a useful, exciting and realtime artefact of a shopping experience.
The till slip no longer just gave you information about your purchase – it gave you information about your world.
COMMERCE + CONTENT + COMMUNITY
How could Loom bring product stories to life?
We brought the best of online content to the consumer, whilst the product was in their hand.
RFID technology was woven into selected product tags in the Loom store. LOOM-O-VISION detects when a product has been picked up and displays a realtime mix of social, custom and curated brand content and designed experiences, reinforcing product choice whilst the purchasing intent was high.
A TAILORED E-COMMERCE PLATFORM
A CRAFTED AND COMPACT SOLUTION
In order to enhance the unboxing experience, we created a set of packaging for Loom Online. Loom only keeps floor-stock, so we had to design the packaging to live in a limited storage space. By using a rigid-collapsible construction, we created a solution that is as elegant as it is efficient. Each size - designed for accessories, footwear and soft goods - features a different pattern, screen-printed on the inside of the lid and inspired by the fine tailoring and different fabrics of the products stocked by Loom.
HAND CRAFTED, CODED AND ENGINEERED
We wanted people on the street to interact with in-store products, without having to come inside. This meant that these products needed to be plugged into the so-called ‘internet of things’. For the windows, each product box was wired up to a Raspberry PI, running a NodeJS server and connected to the internet. Utilising NFC tags for supported smartphones or QR codes as a fallback, users could directly control each product box, activating electronics that had been rigged up through the use of the PI's GPIO as well as the addition of Arduino controlled components.
The electronics included a stepper motor, computer fans and LED matrices. Once engaged, the press of a button on the mobile site we developed would bring the electronics in each respective box to life. From the mobile site, users could directly navigate to the e-commerce solution, where they could purchase the product directly.
The till slip was generated on the fly by connecting to Loom's proprietary point-of-sale system, which provided details about the products purchased. Based on this information, the application would dynamically generate a custom till slip for each purchase. The till slip included useful information relevant to that purchase, including a unique QR code that directed the user to their own personalised mobile site, where they could continue their Loom journey.
Our LOOM-O-VISION interactive media wall was driven by distinctly encoded RFID tags, fitted to various products. To read these tags, we rigged up an RFID reader to an Arduino that sent the tag information to an internal network of Raspberry PIs as well as a Windows PC, each connected to a 32" full-HD monitor. Each machine would display appropriate material based on the relevant RFID product tag, including video material of the brand, static information about the product, and dynamically retrieved images from social channels, such as Instagram, through the use of an API.
The Loom e-commerce site was built using the Shopify platform. Loom has a small amount of stock and can't keep items separate for the online store. It was therefore critical that the online store and the physical store's stock matched. For this, we integrated the e-commerce site directly into Loom's point-of-sale system, so that sales on either would reflect accordingly on the other end through the use of a custom alert system. Imports and updates to their stock would also reflect on the online store, streamlining the stock management process for the client.
A UNIQUE SET OF ARTWORK
Loom commissioned a selection of designers and illustrators to celebrate the opening of their new online store and Cape Town store. Each poster focuses on a central concept. The first offers a comment on the store's rather discerning, eccentric client base. The second poster announces Loom's e-commerce platform with a playful appropriation of imagery and wording, evoking the internet experience. The third in the series is an experimental typographic portrait, challenging ideas of menswear and the final poster in the series pays homage to the store's namesake and roots in fabric, dye and weave.