3D printer, MakerBot, and optician, Warby Parker, are retail highlights on Boxwood’s NRF store tour

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Boxwood, the award winning management consultancy today revealed the companies changing the future of retail in New York. As part of the NRF, Boxwood insights managing director, Paul Martin, led 20 retailers on a walking tour of the most exciting retail developments on the New York shopping scene.

The two retailers making the biggest impact were MakerBot, owned by a 3D printer manufacturer, offering consumers the chance to purchase and experience cutting edge technology in-store; and Warby Parker, the originally pure-play optician now rewriting the rule book on eyewear merchandising and rumoured to be considering a move to the UK.

Commenting on MakerBot, Martin said: “While the current MakerBot retail experience is relatively gimmicky their offering has the potential to revolutionise the retail supply chain, and this is reflected in the current market value of the company. Valued at over $400m based on a forecasted revenue of $75m this year alone, coupled with a 21% market share this is the level of growth and valuation not seen since the dot com bubble.”

According to Boxwood, the real revolution MakerBot has the potential to spearhead is in the deployment of the technology for specialist parts in the medical, automotive, aerospace and general manufacturing industries. Martin said: “The ability to generate a specific part on the spot vastly reduces the need for a global supply chain. We are on the cusp of understanding how this technology will revolutionise retailing. Never before has such an innovation found a home on the high street at the same time as creating a new way of working for industry and manufacturing.”

Warby Parker, originally a pure online retailer, was also a highlight of the tour. Now offering a complete customer experience, from optical examinations to virtual photobooths, customers can try on new eyewear then automatically upload photos to social media, while in store, to road test their new look with friends. Delivered in high end retail spaces fitted out like libraries equipped with premium fittings, Warby Parker has created a vertically integrated lifestyle brand. Selling only Warby Parker branded products, at exceptionally competitive price-points this is sophisticated retailing for the mass market.

Martin said: “Warby Parker has successfully navigated the transition from a pure play online offering to a brick & mortar customer experience. Taking the optical market by storm and creating a lifestyle brand coupled with cutting edge technology to enhance the retailing event. Rumoured to be entering the European market this year, this is definitely one to watch.”