Categories
product sustainability

Ocean Outdoor creates accessories out of recycled billboards for London Fashion Week

UK outdoor media owner Ocean Outdoor is teaming up with eco-label VIN + OMI to launch an exclusive collection during London Fashion Week that will be manufactured entirely from vinyl panels taken from billboard displays.

The partnership will feature men’s and women’s accessories and not be available for sale. Instead, Ocean will donate the pieces to its charity partner, the Marine Conservation Society, to help fund the fight against plastic pollution in order to protect the world’s oceans and marine line. This is in one with Ocean’s commitment to staying at the forefront of innovation, as the majority of its out-of-home advertising is already purely digital.

“As a 95 percent based digital media company, Ocean is actively moving away from the use of vinyl,” said Liliana Teixeira, Ocean’s senior marketing executive. “That said, it’s important we find the best possible way to upcycle the vinyl we do still use. This partnership also allows us to support emerging creative talent which adds to its scale and impact,”

UK-born VIN + OMI works in developing recycled polyester (rPET) textiles, including silk-like finishes and wool which are spun from salvaged plastic primarily sourced from rivers and oceans. For this project, it will be working with students from Oxford Brookes University who will help design the collection. This means that in addition teaching a new generation how to work with sustainable garments, the project will further bring together a community with the common goal of raising awareness to the cause.

The range will feature at VIN + OMI’s London Fashion Week show on February 14, while Ocean will display highlights of the presentation on February 18 across its The Grid digital displays country-wide as well as on the iconic Piccadilly Lights display in Piccadilly Circus, London. Last fashion week season, Ocean teamed up with designer Victoria Beckham to livestream her show on the same screens, marking the first time the company streamed live content on its 4K displays.

Are you thinking innovatively enough about sustainability? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. The Current Global is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

Categories
product technology

bPay partners with seven watch brands to introduce contactless payments

bPay contactless payment technology
bPay contactless payment technology

bPay, the wearable technology solution from Barclays bank, has announced partnerships with seven watch brands – GUESS Watches, Mondaine, Timex, Kronaby, Suunto, ADEXE and LBS – to embed payment technology into traditional timepieces and fitness trackers.

The new watches will be showcased at this year’s watch and jewellery trade show, Baselworld, this week in Switzerland.

Launches include six new contactless watches by Guess; eight new styles for both men and women from Timex; LBS will be launching the ‘TapStrap’, a contactless payment strap that can be fitted to any watch with the most common strap sizes; and Suunto, which specializes in sports watches, will create a bPay-enhanced fitness style launching this spring.

“Consumer appetite for wearable payments is reaching critical mass, and we’re proud to be meeting this growing demand with the help of our industry-leading partners,” says Adam Herson, business development director of Barclays Mobile Payments. “Thanks to the range of products these agreements will bring to market, customers will be able to buy a watch or fitness tracker that not only suits their taste, but also unlocks benefits of speed and ease in everyday purchases.”

Recent data from Barclaycard’s Contactless Spending Index shows that spending via bPay surged by 129% year-on-year in 2017. The company claims ‘touch and go’ contactless payments save seven seconds per transaction when compared to chip and PIN.

Since 2015, bPay has been patterning with then UK-based fashion brands on bringing payment technology to accessories, such as launching a line of accessories with Topshop. For more on payment technology, listen to our episode of TheCurrent Innovators podcast with Alipay’s Souheil Badran.

Categories
Editor's pick Podcast product

Shoes of Prey on beating the odds in the customization market

Shoes of Prey
Shoes of Prey

For the latest episode of TheCurrent Innovators, Liz Bacelar chatted to Jodie Fox, co-founder and creative director of online custom-made shoe platform Shoes of Prey, about the company’s eight-year evolution and how they plan on changing the way women buy and wear shoes.

For Fox, the brand’s success in offering customized shoes at on-demand speed, lies in owning the whole manufacturing process, which is where a lot of other similar companies fell short during the customization boom in 2010, she says.

Listen here: Apple Podcasts | Android | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS

In its early stages, selling the idea of building a factory that would do one shoe at a time was met with a lot of negativity. The company now employs 200 people, however, most of which are based out of their own factory in China, and can have a pair of shoes in the customer’s hands in under two weeks.

Shoes of PreyThe importance of creating a company anchored in technology means that as fashion evolves and becomes more embedded with tech, Shoes of Prey is at the perfect standing, Fox explains.

“One of the things we as a brand are really lucky not to have is legacy (…) Traditionally fashion is a very creative environment and I do believe that there is that desire to be innovative, but the way we get those ideas into market is still very broken. And that’s one of the key places that technology can power to simply be fashion,“ she says, stating that fashion and technology shouldn’t be mutually exclusively as they can both leverage one another.

Liz Bacelar and Jodie Fox
Liz Bacelar and Jodie Fox

As a consumer, Shoes of Prey offers over 10 trillion combinations of a shoe’s design, which include changing heels, silhouette and colour. Although the company began by offering a blank canvas, it soon realized the importance of striking the balance of giving consumers choice, but not overwhelming them. For this process, the input of a team of designers has been crucial in creating a controlled yet flexible shopping experience.

The platform also enables shoppers who once considered customization cost or time-prohibitive to see it as a tangible choice, particularly for those who fall outside the standard shoe sizing sold across the West, a group which Fox states 77% of women are part of. For the founder, it is surprising that shoe sizing has remained untouched for so long, which means consumers have become accustomed to the fact that wearing certain shoes – such as heels – won’t always be comfortable.

Fox, who alongside her two other co-founders has raised $30.6 million for Shoes of Prey since launching in 2009, says success has come from leveraging a simple rule of innovation: by being an industry outsider (in her case, with a background in law) she was able to find a common problem, and create an unbiased solution for it.

“One of the reasons why Shoes of Prey managed to make a difference is probably naivety, and not being indoctrinated in the expertise of manufacturing in the industry,” she says. “You can’t let expertise get in the way of an idea.”

Catch up with all of our episodes of TheCurrent Innovators here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by TheCurrent, a consultancy transforming how consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

Categories
business digital snippets e-commerce product Retail social media technology

ICYMI: Starbucks’ blockchain rewards scheme, luxury in the age of digital Darwinism

Starbucks’ Rewards scheme
Starbucks’ Rewards scheme

A round-up of everything you might have missed in relevant fashion, retail and tech industry news over the past week.

TOP STORIES
  • Starbucks’ Rewards scheme is part of its much bigger vision for a blockchain-backed digital currency [TheDrum]
  • Luxury in the age of digital Darwinism [McKinsey]
  • Meet fashion’s first computer-generated influencer [BoF]
  • Instagram appeal: How social media is changing product development in beauty [Digiday]
TECHNOLOGY
  • Retail spending on AI to reach $7.3B by 2022 [Retail Dive]
  • MIT scientists created accessories that change color to match your outfit [QZ]
  • The Grammys brought IBM Watson’s artificial intelligence to the red carpet [AdWeek]
  • Walmart’s new robots are loved by staff—and ignored by customers [TechnologyReview]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Bonobos CEO Andy Dunn explains the Walmart acquisition: ‘We have a safe and permanent home’ [Glossy]
  • Personalization is a priority for retailers, but can online vendors deliver? [AdWeek]
  • H&M moves into the off-price marketplace with Afound [FashionUnited]
  • Selfridges launches world’s first in-store boxing gym [FashionNetwork]
  • Mashable and eBay team up for launch of shoppable images pilot [TheDrum]
PRODUCT
  • Adidas Boost: the sneaker technology that changed a company’s fortunes [GQ]
  • GlassesUSA.com to launch 3D printable glasses [FashionUnited]
  • Amazon just patented some creepy “Black Mirror”-esque tracking wristbands [FastCompany]
BUSINESS
  • After 15 years, eBay plans to cut off PayPal as its main payments processor [Recode]
  • Ralph Lauren is discovering how hard it is to fix a brand [Fortune]
  • H&M admits ‘mistakes’ in handling shift to online shopping [FT]
  • JD.com puts France at the heart of its internationalization strategy [FashionNetwork]
Categories
data Editor's pick product social media technology

Michael Kors launches smartwatch-focused chatbot

Michael Kors introduces chatbot to smartwatches, tech, fashion tech, smart technology, chatbots
Michael Kors introduces chatbot to support smartwatches

Michel Kors has launched a chatbot on Facebook Messenger and Google Assistant, designed to support its Access Sofie smartwatch for women.

The bot aims to teach users about the smartwatch’s features and functionalities, guiding new owners on the set-up process of their device when they first purchase, enabling them to get the most out of it thereafter.

It also provides style inspiration curated from user-generated content and shopping information about items to buy within the experience, including interchangeable bands for the watches. That is done within the Facebook Messenger feed, or via a voice-activated option available through the Google Assistant.

Should the user need help, the bot is also equipped with FAQ support and the ability to hand users off to a human customer service representative when the moment arises.

The chatbot is also available for non-watch owners, enabling them to explore the different Sofie smartwatch styles, then inviting them to either make a purchase on the spot or head to their nearest Michael Kors location.

This sort of move for chatbots as a key part of customer service is becoming increasingly commonplace among brands and retailers. Part of the reason, beyond the marketing drive it has facilitated initially, is the scale it enables. As the technology itself improves, this is only going to get smarter.

Across verticals, there are now more than 100,000 bots on the Facebook Messenger platform, all of which have the potential to reach the platform’s 1.3 billion users.

Categories
data e-commerce

Machine learning: Jewelry.com drove revenue +39% by personalising its homepage recommendations

Personalization on Jewelry.com from Dynamic Yield
Personalisation on Jewelry.com from Dynamic Yield

Product recommendations for e-commerce sites are not new in concept, but the suggestions they present to shoppers are increasingly getting smarter thanks to the algorithms behind them.

And the result of delivering more relevant product ideas? Higher spend of course. When Jewelry.com partnered with omnichannel personalisation technology firm, Dynamic Yield, to integrate personalised product recommendations on its website, for instance, it saw revenue increases per visitor of 39% from the homepage, 13% from product pages, and 18% from cart pages.

The key, according to the team, was not just to focus on the usual ‘most popular’ or ‘similar to current item’ suggestions, but instead to turn to machine learning to automatically select the most effective strategy for each user.

That meant finding a personalisation strategy that would work for both visitors with a rich history of behavioural interactions, and those who are new to the site, thus for whom minimal information is known. Doing so is about capturing signals from shoppers about their buying intentions and preferences for specific products as they move through the sales funnel, the Dynamic Yield team explained, and then providing upsell and cross-sell opportunities throughout.

“Traditional retail is beginning to have what we like to call a ‘moneyball moment’ where the old way of simply making gut decisions on which experience to serve your customers is being challenged. As machine learning technology becomes more advanced, algorithms will outperform humans in recommending products that users are more likely to show an affinity for, and ultimately buy,” Mukund Ramachandran, CMO of Dynamic Yield, notes.

“With Dynamic Yield, we can use machine learning to make data-driven recommendations based on where visitors are in the sales funnel. The ability to assess the level of valuable information about each visitor and automatically serve the most effective strategy has empowered us to increase revenue across our site,” said Jon Azrielant, director of marketing at Jewelry.com.

On the homepage, for instance, the Dynamic Yield widget leveraged affinity-based recommendations, recommending products according to a weighted score of what returning users had added-to-cart, viewed, or purchased in the past. To induce engagement among new visitors, the widget presented products with the highest amount of page views and click-through-rate on the site.

“While ‘point solutions’ for deploying product recommendations have existed in the market for decades, these solutions are limited by data silos that restrict their algorithms to only making decisions based on a user’s interactions with product recommendation widgets. With Dynamic Yield’s unified data stack, information onboarded from all onsite interactions, third party data, CRM data and loyalty data can be ingested,” Ramachandran explains.

On the product pages, the team has been running A/B tests, comparing 45% of users who were recommended products ‘similar to the current item’, 45% who were recommended ‘top-selling’ products, and 10% who received?a control variation. As a result, Jewelry.com revealed that recommending ‘top-selling’ products provided a 10% uplift compared to the other variations.

Finally, an additional widget was introduced on the bottom of the cart page to showcase items frequently bought together with the current item.

“These results are very strong compared to industry benchmarks. We think this is the case because with Dynamic Yield product recommendations are only part of the puzzle. The entire site starts working better for you – the homepage engagement is higher which leads more people to discover the most relevant products as they browse,” Ramachandran adds.

This post first appeared on Forbes.com.

Categories
social media

Coach unveils Snapchat pin badges that unlock access to exclusive content

Coach's Snapcode pins
Coach’s Snapcode pins

Snapchat has teamed up with accessories brand Coach to create a limited edition set of pin badges featuring the social media site’s “Snapcodes”.

These codes are scannable from the Snapchat app and provide access to an exclusive arcade game based on Coach’s festive campaign.

This is the first iteration of Snapcodes existing in a real world product. The pin itself has been given the Coach twist therefore, with the now well-known Snapchat ghost outline accompanied by either a unicorn, a dinosaur or a shark – each of which all feature in the brand’s holiday theme for 2017.

“The pins are all about creativity and individuality,” said Marni Schapiro, Snap’s director of retail. “They’re fun, playful and allow our community a way to Snap the virtual onto reality.”

To get their hands on one, customers have to take part in a quiz about their favourite of the three mascosts – either online or in one of the 20 Coach stores participating across the US.

The quiz will also appear on Snapchat itself in some of its ad products. Taking part then unlocks campaign-themed Snapchat filters.

Categories
Editor's pick film

Prada returns with sequel of The Postman Dreams short movie series

Elijah Wood in Prada's new The Postman Dreams 2 film series
Elijah Wood in Prada’s new The Postman Dreams 2 film series

Prada has released a second series of short movies written and directed by acclaimed filmmaker Autumn de Wilde for the holiday season.

The Postman Dreams 2, which hones in on the Prada Galleria bag, is a follow up to the series of the same name and Prada’s first project with de Wilde, which debuted in 2015. This time around it sees four humorous and whimsical films, the first two of which have already been released – The Bogey and The Troublemaker.

Hollywood actor Elijah Wood stars as the postman in each, but the real protagonist is indeed the bag, which features as a key plot-point in all of the creative work, as well as the thread that ties the four together.

In The Bogey, for instance, actress Emma Roberts plays herself being interrupted on set by the postman delivering her Galleria bag. The title is drawn from the Hollywood vernacular for an individual breaching the set and walking through a shot while the camera is rolling. Wood therefore is indeed the unwitting bogey on this occasion.

In the second, Wood is in pursuit of Sasha Frolova in order to give her the gift, resulting in a hot chase around a stadium to do so. Drawing on the screwball comedies of the 1930s, Prada refers to this as an absurdist cat-and-mouse game.

“These films are a fantasy to be indulged. A gift to be enjoyed,” reads the write-up, referring to de Wilde’s work as offering a touch of daydream and moments of pure surreal wit.

“De Wilde devises her own imaginary vistas and mise en scène, inspired not just by her own obsessions but those of others. Desire, pleasure, eventual satisfaction – these are the underlying themes of these non-sequential, fabulist chapters,” the team explains.

The last two episodes, which are coming soon, are called The Punch and The Elevator.

Categories
data Editor's pick product technology

Can connected handbags bring emotional relevance and customer loyalty?

Rebecca Minkoff's #AlwaysOn connected bag - bringing emotional intelligence
Rebecca Minkoff’s #AlwaysOn connected bag

Here’s a question: If your handbag could talk, would you want the brand it’s from to listen? How about if sharing the data it collects on you could lead you to gain access to highly relevant, truly personalised and ultimately exclusive experiences consistently?

It’s a fine line between what of that is a serious privacy conversation, and what’s otherwise merely an outlined future of projected value exchange tied to the internet of things.

This is the future being imagined and worked on by New York designer Rebecca Minkoff with its line of #AlwaysOn smart bags launched in stores last week in partnership with EVRYTHNG’s IoT smart products cloud platform and Avery Dennison’s smart tag solution.

“We’ve always wanted to enrich our customers’ lives and deliver a brand experience that extends beyond the products themselves,” said Uri Minkoff, co-founder and CEO of Rebecca Minkoff. “By bringing #AlwaysOn smart features to the bags, we’re opening doors to a world of amazing, hand-picked experiences we think our customers will love, while making it easier than ever for them to access special offers, recommendations, and other loyalty rewards.”

The bags each feature a serialised smart label that, when scanned by a smartphone, will enable the owner to receive exclusive offers, product recommendations and video content from Rebecca Minkoff. For now, that offering remains a fairly basic one, but long term, the vision is indeed for truly personalised experiences presented off the back of real-time data fed to the business from the bags.

The roadmap for 2018, for instance, includes using geo-targeting to reach additional partners within the lifestyle, wellness and beauty realm. The user may well walk into a hotel in Austin, Texas, for instance, and be presented with personalised content recommending what to do while in the city. Collaborations can follow with food, travel, concert brands and more.

The concept marks a broad potential movement, according to a report commissioned by EVRYTHNG and Avery Dennison, that suggests brands should be using the data that digital products can provide to drive emotional engagements with consumers. Head over to Forbes to read all about the report findings.

Categories
e-commerce mobile social media

Vince Camuto launches iOS sticker app

Vince Camuto's iOS stickers
Vince Camuto’s iOS stickers

Vince Camuto is the latest fashion brand to release a range of stickers for the iPhone, with emoticons of everything from shoes to handbags available.

The aim, according to the accessories business, is to “enliven conversations and encourage sharing” between its customers, who it refers to as constantly online and on the move with their mobile devices, as well as showing preference for image-based text messaging. It also nods to the fact the majority of its e-commerce traffic now arrives via mobile.

“Customers enjoy the playful, spontaneous way visual content lets them share personal style,” the brand’s press release reads. The stickers accordingly come with captions attached including “outfit of the day”, “epic” and “nailed it!”

There are 50 stickers in total spanning shoes, handbags, clothing and fragrances for men and women. Seasonal upgrades are also expected.

Vince Camuto is following in the footsteps of multiple other fashion brands that have released their own stickers, including the likes of JW Anderson, Coach and Primark.