Agile Retail Space from Toyota R&R and InfoTech Labs

In its transformational shift to a mobility company, Toyota is exploring future ways to expand its mobility services by pioneering and testing new service concepts. Enter the Toyota Agile Space (TAS), which will pilot in a retail application beginning in June.

“Our role for Toyota is to be futurists, asking what societal problems need to be solved, and then designing future mobility solutions around them,” said Akio Orii, vice president at Toyota Motor North America R&D and head of InfoTech Labs (ITL). “In this application, we see many brick-and-mortar retailers forced to close their doors and retail landlords having underutilized space, so we pioneered an experiential solution that gives rise to a leaner, more flexible retail model in the physical world.”

Rethinking Retail

Conceived by ITL, TAS is a new mobility concept that rethinks the use and provisioning of space with multiple usage applications. The idea is to bring great experiences to people by providing customized, efficiently packaged spaces created to address societal challenges.

ITL has selected digital native brand Cuyana as its first tenant following an extensive evaluation process. Cuyana will test the TAS concept as a portable retail showroom in southern California and promote its brand and products in different venues without the need of long-term commercial lease contracts. The traveling showroom will operate in five locations across Los Angeles and Orange counties from June to December 2021. A schedule is available at https://www.cuyana.com/.

“We’re excited to launch Cuyana in Motion in collaboration with Toyota this year,” said Shilpa Shah, Cuyana co-founder and CXO. “At Cuyana, we’ve always believed in retail and are eager to develop innovative approaches to efficiently test and learn from what will resonate the most with today’s consumer. As our industry continues to shift with the times and as consumer behaviors continue to evolve, we see this as a great opportunity to find innovative solutions within the retail space.”

Agile Space as a Solution to Retail Challenges

While retail isn’t Toyota’s core business, it has expertise in mobility, space optimization and just-in-time production. ITL believes those proficiencies delivered through the TAS concept can be a value-add for retail. Researchers at ITL envision the creation of a two-way marketplace, one in which retailers can promote their products and brands in new environments while landlords can leverage and monetize underused space – a win-win situation for both retailers and landlords.

The TAS concept can help make the retail ecosystem more dynamically responsive to consumer needs.  With a more agile retail space, retailers can more freely enter a broader array of venues and test out locations without committing to them long term. Landlords can experiment with a greater variety of brand and service options to draw foot traffic, which is often a challenge in traditional brick-and-mortar retail environments. Consumers are the biggest winners by getting the best possible retail experience.

Applying TAS in other applications

The Cuyana pilot will measure opportunity for disrupting the way land and space is used, configured and transacted. Beyond this retail trial, ITL hopes the TAS platform might be applied to other usage applications, such as space for municipal services, childcare, offices and healthcare services.

 

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