Retail spaces are working hard to make sure that consumers leave stores with everything they were looking for and more, and in the 'Digital Age' that means – integrated technology. Last year we heard about Rebecca Minkoff’s tech forward collaboration with eBay at her California store that charts a shoppers journey through the store, and introduces an amalgamated online/in store experience. 

Now comes the news that leading luxury American department store Neiman Marcus is growing its technology development department, to ensure that the store is leading the way when it comes to technological initiatives in store. 

The Innovation Lab, which has been dubbed the iLab, is dedicated to evaluating, designing and testing new technologies and applications to use in store. It started in a small conference room in the store’s Dallas offices, which expanded to become a 450 square-foot office space, and now the iLab is set to relocate again to an even bigger space, complete with an adjoining showroom. This goes to show just how important the growth of the department is to the store, in a world where traditional bricks-and-mortar stores and online stores, crucially need to streamline. 

The iLab is headed up by Scott Emmons, who admits that he is kept extremely busy looking for the next big thing. “I can run from 10 to 15 different projects in it today,” Emmons says. “This whole innovation thing permeates throughout the business. My phone rings off the hook and my e-mail is overflowing with pitches and concepts. Ideas come from colleagues, my research, executives and vendors. I rely on help from teams from across Neiman Marcus to help me cull the list.” he continued. 

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The store has rolled out a few quiet prototypes as pilot projects including 'memory mirrors' (pictured above) in some changing rooms and 'interactive tables', which are currently only installed in the store's shoe salons. Emmons has overseen what is described as a complete 'WiFi refresh' across stores, to support the 8,000 Apple iOS devices that have been deployed among sales associates, to improves store browsing in every way. 

Last year saw the successful launch of the store's 'Snap.Find.Shop', which functions through the store's smartphone app, allowing shoppers to snap a pictures of a coveted item, wherever they are, and the app will search the online store's inventory for the same or similar item, which can she purchased directly through the app. 

Emmons hopes to focus on the current beacon technology, which can alert customers upon entry into the store of any suitable offers and sales that are occurring in store, he is also interested in digital signage and wearable tech among the plethora of potential possibilities. Among the current leading ideas are the touch screen tables, which have seen huge success in their controlled use through out shoe departments. Data from them is currently being analysed with a view to rolling out more across stores in the near future. "I knew this beautiful piece of furniture would work in our store environments. It's a no-brainer to me." said Emmons of the tech creations.

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