You're shopping in a store, and see something close to what you'd like to buy. "Do you have this in red," "an 8 1/2," or "a size medium?" you ask.
"Let me check in The Back," the clerk says. Customers in retail stores hope that "The Back" is some kind of magical Narnia, where all sizes and colors are stocked and neatly organized, ready to be whisked over to us. In reality, if you ever get to poke your head back there, it's often a cinderblock room cluttered with boxes and giving off a very ransacked vibe.
When Palmer West and Jonah Smith set up the new San Francisco retail outpost of their Aether clothing brand, there would be no cinderblock room. In fact it's not even clear if the store has a Back, as the space is comprised of three stacked shipping containers. So they came up with a wicked inventory system: A huge, rotating rack--like what they've got at a dry cleaners--except it's vertical, and runs three storeys high. With styles organized by both style and color on a single segment of the rack, stock can quickly be brought right to the consumer.
As you can imagine, a system like this isn't exactly the type of thing you order from Staples, and there were some attendant design/fabrication challenges. Check out how they solved them: