Made.com launches London innovation lab

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London-based homeware design brand Made.com has set up a technology innovation lab in Shoreditch to work with emerging technologies and innovative startups.

The new Made Labs team will work with startups to create an engaging shopping experience using the latest technology, with an emphasis on helping customers find the right products and then visualise them in their own space. 

Unlike incubators run by many other companies, the Labs team will work closely with the rest of the business to get these innovations in to its core platform as quickly as possible, the company said.

The launch of Made Labs follows the success of collaborations with a number of other technology businesses to date, such as Hullabalook, who created Made’s Sofasizer, an online tool that helps customers find the perfect size of sofa for their space. That product won a customer innovation award in 2017.

Soho expansion

In early February, Made announced the expansion of its flagship showroom in Soho, London, which has tripled in size and houses a host of new technology. 

The supersized touch screens include some new Labs features such as Find My Style - to help customers find products that match their taste – and Shop Instagram - a “shoppable” feed of instagram posts featuring Made products, built with technology partner Theodo. 

The smaller touch screens include Hullabalook’s “Colour, Size and Style” picker experiences, expanding the collaboration to cover in-store technology.

New online interior design

This month has also seen the launch of Made’s new online interior design service, a collaboration with French startup hubstairs. 

This service, which costs £89 to use, helps customers visualise their own home with Made furniture, using AI to recommend the right products and 3D technology to create a photo-quality view of the furnished room. Made claimed this was the first service of its kind in the UK. 

Made has also launched View it Live, a partnership with Go Instore to connect customers from all over the world to Made experts on the showroom floor via live-one way video combined with two-way audio. 

Customers can see the products they love online up-close and gain real-time practical and styling advice from the company’s experts. This service is now live in Made’s showroom spaces in London, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, Birmingham and Redbrick (West Yorkshire), with plans to extend further across Europe in 2019.

Made Labs will be hosting an event later this year to give startups the opportunity to pitch their products and ideas. To participate, the company is inviting firms to register their interest at https://www.made.com/labs 

“Made’s entrepreneurial spirit is fundamental to our business strategy; as a digitally-native brand, being at the forefront of technological developments is a key priority”, said Jonathan Howell, Chief Technology Officer at Made. “We want to provide technology that is always one step ahead of our customers’ expectations.

World beating location

“We are lucky enough to be based in the centre of one of the world’s best tech start-up communities. There are amazing things happening within those companies, and we want to stay true to our entrepreneurial roots and collaborate with these businesses to get their ideas in front of our customers.”

Howell said that by 2022, half o the UK’s consumer landscape will be millennials or younger, which he said was a seismic shift for an industry that’s already gone through a huge amount of change over the past decade. 

“At Made, we pride ourselves on relentless innovation and so a key challenge for us, as it should be for every business, is to continue to listen to what our customers want and action this, so we remain relevant in the changing consumer landscape” Howell added.

“Made Labs marks another step towards our ambition to become Europe’s leading design destination, as we continue to use technology to power our growth.”

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