January 28, 2021

Pioneering London’s Retail Ecosystem

The Dandy Lab powered by University College London was a project that we worked on in which the purpose was to distill what the future of retail looked like. The main attraction was a pop up concept store that ran from July 2015 to February 2016.

The culmination of a 6 month’s worth of testing within a live-trading retail lab, working with The Dandy Lab team we were able to support some of the UK’s newest design and technology talent; figuring out what the future of retail may look like. The shop was based at 73 Brushfield Street in London’s iconic Old Spitalfields Market and was part British fashion shop and part retail lab testing cutting edge technologies.

Ahead of the curve and industry, The Dandy Lab team released a whitepaper outlining the top insights from the project, so here they are…

The Dandy Lab Powered by UCL Top  5 Takeaways:


TheDandyLab was designed to offer a low risk, low cost and high value testing facility for technology start-ups. Following the learnings and iterations from 6 months of live testing 30% of technology solutions trialled in-store are now ready to be rolled out into larger retail environments. The lab demonstrated the value in providing a space where innovation from companies such as Cisco can happen without the constraints of existing retail legacy systems.


From the scores of retailers we engaged with 83% identified a greater need to innovate, iterate and integrate digital into their physical retail strategies, especially with the rise of the tech-savvy Generation D. Retailers must overcome the fear of innovation to really understand how holistic digital strategies can be effectively executed, and not just used as standalone solutions loosely connected together that are forced upon the customer. Retailers must in-build margin for innovation in order to differentiate their businesses in the future.


The Dandy Lab collaborated with OnePlus to launch their OnePlus X smartphone in November 2015. We tested the theory that retail is no longer simply about sales, but instead about the experience that should be tied into the media consumed everyday by customers online. The approach turns physical retail spaces into offline marketing platforms to extend their online presence. The event demonstrated how retailers could push the boundaries of traditional shopping; the sale of products is no longer strictly tied to the store itself or the traditional metric of sales per square foot, but rather is more about experience per square foot. Many stores in the future will be used for the sole purpose of experiential showrooms.


Partnering with We Are Pop Up we supported 52 British brands and of those over 65% originated in London. We wanted to test not only that ShopShare is a viable retail strategy, which was proven in our Spitalfields shop, but also that in the future retailers will need to morph their retail strategies into more flexible formats. With discount culture and property rental prices at an all time high, implementing additional revenue streams will be key to surviving amongst the saturated UK high street.


Overtime, retailers will be able to utilise artificial intelligence to automate data crunching so that the physical environment can be hyper-personalised to the individual. Whereby displays and lighting units dynamically change according to the individual’s shopping habits and preferences. At present this is very difficult to scale across international chains, however at The Dandy Lab we saw that personalisation will be key. Solutions such as Hoxton Analytics and Reward Technology will become more sophisticated and machine-learning environments will be able to create personalised, seamless multi- channel journeys. In the future smart shops will be the everyday norm for the way we shop and retailers must start planning now for that change.

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