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HomeTHE HOTTEST TOPICSGem Retail Hotlist 2019Gem Retail Hotlist: LookDepot stands out

Gem Retail Hotlist: LookDepot stands out

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In the Gem Retail Hotlist, LookDepot scored the ‘Hottest service provider’ award. We looked into what makes it stand apart from the competition.

LookDepot was founded in 2014 by managing director Andy Mackie to provide automated product photography systems for retailers. Its flagship machine is named StyleShoots – it comes as a table-style horizontal machine for flat-lays and non-clothing items; a vertical version for mannequins; ‘eclipse’ for 360-degree multi-angle shots; and live for video. All can be operated via iPad by a single, untrained and unskilled individual, to create high-quality product images with the background automatically cropped out.

The StyleShoots machines are also available for rental by SME retailers at LookDepot’s studio in Kingsland through a complementary business, Asset Factory, which is run by Mackie’s wife Jo Mackie. Andy Mackie shared some insights with NZ Retail.

How does LookDepot go above and beyond to support retailers?

Our goal has always been to establish ongoing partnerships with retailers to build their internal capabilities and grow their own business through technological enhancement. 

With our larger business partners, LookDepot provides advanced automated product photography machines, interactive data-driven visual merchandising software as well as consultancy services around training, studio planning, systems integrations and more.  For smaller partners, we operate Asset Factory – our smart content studio in Kingsland, Auckland that utilises our automated photographic content creation machines for hire. Asset Factory allows SMEs to meet market demands much faster and more time/cost efficiently than traditional photography.

The combination of LookDepot and Asset Factory means we work with businesses of any size and any stage of maturity so every business benefits from our expertise . Small-medium businesses gain access to some of the most advanced content creation technology previously only available to big businesses. Meanwhile, Asset Factory’s working studio serves as a creative hotbed, enabling us to reach the full potential of each machine and gain crucial hands-on experience across the entire content production process, then sharing that expertise with new industries and our larger clients to maximise their in-house studio facilities. 

We go well beyond just selling machines or software for a short term solution, we have a full understanding of the challenges within the retail sector and have more than enough regular content production expertise to be a positive ongoing influence to everyone we partner with.

Through interacting with dozens of retailers, from SMEs to multinationals, what are some key insights you’ve learned that you feel retailers could benefit from understanding?

The customer has more choice than ever. The rise of ecommerce has greatly empowered consumers. They research online and look to be well informed on the product at the point of purchase. Those brands investing in creating healthy digital channels are likely to benefit in their bricks and mortar locations if the two channels are integrated. 

Large retailers have greater marketing budget and capability but the SMEs are agile to respond and, in general, are closer to their customer. Regardless of their size, all businesses  still want their customers to have a seamless view of their brand.

What’s next for LookDepot?

There’s an exciting period ahead of us across the next year or so. We’re in the process of establishing a second location in Australia and our team has just grown to seven now with Vlad Tichen appointed as business development manager. We’ll be announcing a couple of partnerships and more game-changing technology is due to arrive. Watch this space! 

This story originally appeared in NZ Retail issue 764 October/November 2019.

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