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Innovation Mansion brings “human factor” to NRF

The Current Global’s Innovation Mansion came to New York last weekend exploring how retail’s future needs to focus on technology and humans working as one.

Attended by c-suite executives from Fortune 500 companies and the world’s leading brands, the experiential activation aligned with NRF’s Big Show event happening this week.

Under the theme of “The Human Factor”, it examined the techniques used by top innovators, showcased rising technologies and explored how tech can deliver personalization, experience and convenience while being increasingly led by emotion.

One of the highlights was a live Innovators podcast recording with retail trailblazer, Ron Johnson, who is best known as the man behind the Apple store and the Genius Bar concept, and then CEO of JC Penney. Today, he is the founder and CEO of Enjoy, an e-commerce company that aims to reinvent the last mile.

Speaking to Current Global’s co-founder and CEO, Liz Bacelar, Johnson discussed the importance of deepening relationships with consumers at every step of the shopping journey. He explained how he believes the future of commerce is mobile retail, and how he is focusing on helping premium brands deliver joy and convenience to the consumer’s home.

Co-founder & CEO of Camp, Ben Kaufman and Co-founder & CEO of Current Global, Liz Bacelar

Meanwhile Ben Kaufman, co-founder and CEO of family store Camp, and former CMO of Buzzfeed, talked on the podcast about how his retail concept is using the winning recipe of merchandise, theatre and experience. Described as the “Speakeasy for kids”, the store brings a fresh perspective to traditional brick-and-mortar, with a rotating schedule of activities and themes, allowing customers to always find something new.

“We find a way to integrate productive retail space into even the big immersive experiential set pieces,” he explained to Bacelar, demonstrating how every square foot of the store is used to its best potential. 

Wrapping up the day was a panel focused on direct-to-consumer brands. It featured sunscreen brand Supergoop!, DTC incubator dtx company and retail concept SHOWFIELDS. The discussion explored how to build a brand for modern consumers, who see no boundaries between physical and digital.

Guests also had the opportunity to explore the latest technologies set to transform your business in 2020 with “The Hot 12” tech exhibit from Current Global, which included everything from smart mirrors to cutting-edge vending machines.

Look out for our Innovators podcast episodes with Enjoy’s Johnson and Camp’s Kaufman, publishing soon. Meanwhile, subscribe here to keep up with the latest episodes.

A special thank you to our content partner Bellwether Culture and partners United Talent Agency and Membrain.

Want to know more about how our technology partners can help you reach your innovation goals? The Current Global is a transformation consultancy driving growth within fashion, luxury and retail. Our mission is to solve challenges and facilitate change. We are thinkers and builders delivering innovative solutions and experiences. Get in touch to learn more.

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Editor's pick product technology

Bose and Coachella team up on audio augmented reality festival experience

Festival-goers at Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival this weekend will be able to access exclusive audio content via Bose’s new audio augmented reality sunglasses.

The audio company has worked with Goldenvoice, the creators of the festival’s app, to enhance the platform with audio features that only work once paired with the smart glasses.

“We’re proud to see this exclusive content made available through Bose AR at Coachella,” said Crystal MacKenzie, head of marketing for Bose AR. “Fans who pair their Bose Frames with the app while attending the show will be able to spend more time looking up and seeing what’s going on around them, while accessing information that will help make their experience even better.”

The Bose AR sunglasses feature small speakers integrated into its frame, which for this experience will push real-time updates on the festival’s schedule, as well as notify wearers of when their favorite act is about to perform.

The smart frames will be available to buy at the festival grounds and Bose’s ecommerce website, for those who wish to purchase it beforehand.

This marks the first time that Bose’s new smart glasses and audio augmented reality technology will be featured fully operating in a consumer-facing scenario. At this year’s SXSW festival, the company introduced the glasses for the first time alongside a host of apps that have its technology plugged in. The aim was to showcase the many different applications the smart feature has, such as a tool for the blind, or enabling golfers to know the next hole information without having to check their phones.

Recently Huawei and Gentle Monster also announced their take on smart glasses, which allow for phone calls and voice assistant interaction. Tech giants like Google, Apple and Microsoft are also all said to be working on their own versions.

Additional reporting by Camilla Rydzek.

How are you thinking about product innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners for your innovation strategy. The Current Global is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology, powered by a network of top startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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business Campaigns digital snippets product Retail sustainability technology

ICYMI: Chanel announces successor, Amazon scraps Dash buttons, Ted Baker boss steps down

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

TOP STORIES
  • Virginie Viard to fill Karl Lagerfeld’s brash boots at Chanel [The Times]
  • Amazon stops selling Dash buttons, goofy forerunners of the connected home [CNET]
  • Ted Baker boss Ray Kelvin quits after ‘forced hugging’ claims [The Guardian]
  • Gap to spin off Old Navy into separate public company [Retail Dive]
TECHNOLOGY
  • Apple is releasing a foldable iPhone, and it’s not only about all those patents [Tom’s Guide]
SUSTAINABILITY & PURPOSE
  • New York City launches project to promote fashion recycling [Fashion United]
  • Launch of Australasian Circular Textiles Association (ACTA) means business for sustainable fashion [Fashion United]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Harrods targets online growth with Farfetch partnership [The Industry]
  • Ted Baker launches monthly product drops [Fashion United]
  • Pinterest expands the ability to shop on its platform [PYMNTS]
  • J.C. Penney pulls plug on clothing subscription service [BoF]
  • QVC UK introduces social commerce for ‘discovery-led’ shopping [Fashion United]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • New Balance pub only accepts miles ran as currency [TheCurrent Daily]
  • Louis Vuitton unveils digital ‘Postcard’ window displays [WWD]
  • Rebecca Minkoff partners with Yelp to support businesswomen [Fashion United]
  • Ralph Lauren opens Ralph’s Café on Boulevard Saint-Germain in Paris [Fashion Network]
PRODUCT
  • Meet Glossier Play, the new high impact makeup brand from Glossier [WWD]
  • Net-a-Porter teams up with prominent female designers for international women’s day capsule [Fashion United]
  • Bonobos to unveil first women’s capsule [WWD]
  • Target is the latest retailer to take on Victoria’s Secret [Quartz]
BUSINESS
  • Swarovski, CFDA part ways for Fashion Awards [WWD]
  • LVMH plans London hotel and new flagship in experiential push [BoF]
  • Anya Hindmarch to split with partner Mayhoola for investments [WWD]
  • Burberry launches staff training plan after ‘noose’ hoodie row [The Guardian]
  • L Brands to shutter 53 Victoria’s Secret stores [Retail Dive]
  • Puma signs mega global deal with Manchester City owner, its biggest deal ever [Fashion Network]
  • Macy’s new restructuring to cut 100 senior positions, save $100 million annually [Fashion Network]
CULTURE
  • Sesame Street’s turning 50, and InStyle dressed our favorite characters for the party [InStyle]

How are you thinking about innovation? 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. 

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business Campaigns digital snippets product Retail sustainability technology

ICYMI: Angela Ahrendts exits Apple, Ralph Lauren’s streetwear obsession, the ethical case for fur

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

TOP STORIES
  • What fashion can learn from Angela Ahrendts’ Apple exit [BoF]
  • Ralph Lauren is loving streetwear right now [Quartz]
  • The ethical case for leather, fur, and silk [Quartz]
  • Why Fashion Week doesn’t make sense anymore [Vox]
TECHNOLOGY
  • Why high-tech beauty is a high-stakes game [BoF]
  • ‘Fortnite’ held a marshmello concert—and it’s the future of the metaverse [Wired]
SUSTAINABILITY & PURPOSE
  • Volcom introduces traceable organic cotton initiative [Fashion United]
  • Study measures economics of closing the fashion loop in UK [Apparel Insider]
  • Tokyo succeeds in plan to make 2020 Olympic medals from recycled gadgets [The Verge]
  • Made for next to nothing. Worn by you? [New York Times]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • A shopping mall near Edinburgh sold for less than a London flat [Sourcing Journal]
  • Matchesfashion.com bringing temporary townhouse to Frieze L.A. [WWD]
  • The pitfalls of investing in experiential retail [BoF]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Victoria’s Secret Pink champions women with new ‘Grl Pwr’ initiative [Fashion Network]
  • The Instagram account black market, explained [Vox]
  • Pentland-owned Ellesse launches campaign with AI model [Fashion Network]
PRODUCT
  • Tarte Cosmetics unveils brand new foundation range in 50 shades [Fashion Network]
BUSINESS
  • Michael Kors drags down Capri [Retail Dive]
  • LVMH creates secret company named Project Loud. A corporate structure to welcome Rihanna? [Fashion Network]
  • Jeweller Pandora’s plan to regain lustre lifts shares [Reuters]
CULTURE
  • Dapper Dan is holding Gucci accountable for controversial ‘blackface sweater’ [Fashionista]
  • What brands are doing to be more inclusive for people with disabilities [Marketing Week]
  • New York Fashion Week launches with a statement on diversity [Glossy]

How are you thinking about innovation? 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. 

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business Campaigns digital snippets e-commerce film mobile product Retail social media Startups sustainability technology

ICYMI: Dolce & Gabbana’s downfall, the double-edged sword of discounting, a trillion-dollar holiday season

Dolce & Gabbana is in trouble in China
Dolce & Gabbana is in trouble in China

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

TOP STORIES
  • The crash and burn of Dolce & Gabbana [NYT]
  • The double-edged sword of discounting [BoF]
  • Get ready for the first-ever trillion-dollar shopping season [Fast Company]
  • ThirdLove publishes a scathing open letter to Victoria’s Secret in a New York Times ad [AdWeek]
TECHNOLOGY
SUSTAINABILITY & PURPOSE
  • Sustainable fashion searches surged in 2018 [Forbes]
  • Trawling for trash: the brands turning plastic pollution into fashion [The Guardian]
  • Bangladesh clothing factories face squeeze if safety push blocked [BoF]
  • How to convince a fashion brand to go fur-free in 2018 [Fashionista]
  • From Gucci to Walmart, these brands & retailers took a stand on social issues this year [Footwear News]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Inside an Amazon warehouse on Black Friday [Vox]
  • Amazon is mailing a printed holiday toy catalog to millions of customers [CNBC]
  • Walmart unveils ‘digital playground’ as it gets serious about toys [Marketing Dive]
  • Kohl’s cracks the retail code [Fortune]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Why holiday windows still matter [NYT]
  • Snapchat enlists Kylie Cosmetics to launch in-app social commerce [Mobile Marketer]
  • Canada Goose is turning the dressing room into a freezer [Free Malaysia Today]
  • Balenciaga just blew the CGI model debate wide open [Vogue]
  • How Farfetch leverages its WeChat strategy [Jing Daily]
  • Girlboss is launching a LinkedIn-like platform that’s exclusively for women [AdWeek]
  • Apple’s holiday ad is an animated short film [TechCrunch]
BUSINESS
  • YNAP drops Dolce & Gabbana following major Chinese retailers [WWD]
  • The race to replace Victoria’s Secret [BoF]
  • Gap plans to shutter ‘hundreds’ of its flagship stores [RetailDive]
  • The personal luxury goods market delivers positive growth in 2018 to reach €260 billion – a trend that is expected to continue through 2025 [Bain & Company]
CULTURE
  • Does fashion have a cultural appropriation problem? [BBC]
  • The art of woke wellness [The Atlantic]

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. TheCurrent 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.

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business Editor's pick Podcast

LVMH’s Ian Rogers on the death of the chief digital officer

Ian Rogers at the New York Times International Luxury Conference
Ian Rogers at the New York Times International Luxury Conference

The role of the chief digital officer shouldn’t exist, says Ian Rogers, who is himself the chief digital officer at LVMH, on the latest episode of the Innovators podcast by TheCurrent.

Speaking to Liz Bacelar in Hong Kong during The New York Times International Luxury Conference, he argues that for any large company, the role should be merely transitional as brands become accustomed to a future where digital is simply embedded within everything that they do.

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

“The word digital and the insinuation that this transformation is about technology is really misleading and it makes people make the wrong decisions. So what I really want to convince people of is that this is not a technological change, it’s a cultural change,” he explains. Instead, the role should evolve into a chief technical officer who sits at the executive table alongside more established players like the CFO and the CEO itself, he notes.

Rogers joined LVMH in 2015 at a pivotal time for the group, which like many luxury players was navigating a new consumer demand for more digital experiences and introducing e-commerce to its more traditional brands.

Since taking on the role, he has helped LVMH launch multi-designer e-commerce platform, 24 Sèvres, invest in affiliate shopping platform Lyst, and scale LVMH’s presence on China’s TMall platform from zero to 12 portfolio names.

Ian Rogers and Liz Bacelar
Ian Rogers and Liz Bacelar

Rogers big focus is on the customer, he explains. He brings that learning from his previous career in the music industry, where he led the launch of Apple Music after it acquired Beats Music and Beats Electronics for $3bn. Understanding every customer touchpoint, which now begins with digital, is key for a successful experience that navigates seamlessly across all channels, he explains.

During the conversation, Rogers also talks about how it makes sense that luxury took so long to jump into e-commerce; why CEOs don’t need to know technology intrinsically; and what he’s driving at LVMH to keep up with the level of experience the customer expects online.

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.

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Editor's pick product

L’Oréal sells new UV skin sensor exclusively at Apple stores

L'Oréal's My Skin Track UV
L’Oréal’s My Skin Track UV

L’Oréal USA is teaming up with Apple as an exclusive nationwide retail partner for the launch of its new skincare technology device, the My Skin Track UV sensor.

The move marks the first time a beauty company has partnered with Apple retail stores.

“I think that it opens the door for a new consumer market for us, and a new retail environment,” Guive Balooch, global VP of L’Oréal’s tech incubator, told Fast Company.

The device is part of the ongoing UV Sense prototype from the beauty group’s La Roche-Posay brand, which launched as a nail patch earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). This iteration sees the sensor technology applied onto a battery-free device, which can be clipped onto clothing and accessories with the aim to measure the wearer’s exposure to UV radiation.

Like the nail patch, the device is accompanied by an app that translates that data to the user, making them aware of not only their individual UV exposure but giving them personalized advice on how to keep it at a safe level. It also uses a phone’s location-based data to provide further information about humidity, air quality and pollen in the area.

The My Skin Track UV app will also display data on Apple’s HealthKit, in a further move to educate the consumer on the damages of sun exposure as part of their day-to-day lives. Meanwhile, moving from a nail patch to a clip-on device furthers the groups attempt to also attract the male audience.

At SXSW festival earlier this year, TheCurrent spoke to Balooch on how the group is deploying technology to have more one-to-one relationships with its consumers. Beyond connected devices, from the clip-on to a hairbrush, this strategy also includes new digital tools that aim to bridge the gap between physical and online experiences. Recently, it introduced digital beauty assistants that use AR technology to showcase makeup looks to customers via video chat.

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. TheCurrent 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
business digital snippets e-commerce product Retail social media sustainability technology

ICYMI: Farfetch’s IPO, everything to know about CGI influencers, Bitcoin hairspray

Farfetch IPO
Farfetch IPO

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

TOP STORIES
  • Farfetch files for IPO, testing investors’ appetite for luxury [BoF]
  • The numerous questions around the rise of CGI models and influencers [Vogue]
  • You can buy hairspray with Bitcoin now [TheCut]
  • Yuval Noah Harari on what the year 2050 has in store for humankind [Wired]
TECHNOLOGY
  • Amazon is losing its smart speaker dominance [AdWeek]
  • Microsoft’s HoloLens mall demos bring early AR glasses to the masses [VentureBeat]
  • Los Angeles subway to become first in the US to use body scanners [DigitalTrends]
SUSTAINABILITY & PURPOSE
  • Fur: A reality check [BoF]
  • Is clothing rental the secret to making fashion sustainable? [Independent]
  • Fashion for Good launches toolkit on how to develop Cradle to Cradle denim [FashionUnited]
  • Why Instagram’s ‘outfit of the day’ hashtag is bad for fashion – and bad for the soul [TheGuardian]
  • German outdoor brand Vaude starts upcycling community [FashionUnited]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • McDonald’s unveils new Apple store-like Chicago flagship location [HypeBeast]
  • Superga, Cos, Rains and Fred Perry join Coal Drops Yard lineup [Retail Gazette]
  • 5 reasons why LA is the place to be for retailers [FootwearNews]
  • Consumers opt for marketplaces, fast retail, personalization [WWD]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Neutrogena, Sonos beta test use of video in Amazon search campaigns [MobileMarketer]
  • Alibaba’s to host first fashion show in China [JingDaily]
  • Rebecca Minkoff to present new brand identity during NYFW [WWD]
  • It’s never been easier to buy a pair of Yeezys [GQ]
  • Counterfeiting make-up is a new trend in Chinese how-to videos [JingDaily]
PRODUCT
  • Everlane is launching ‘clean silk’ in a move toward greater sustainability [Fashionista]
  • This digitally-knitted sportswear is like 3D-printed clothing [Wired]
  • River Island launches homeware [Drapers]
BUSINESS
  • Why the gender discrimination lawsuit against Nike is so significant [Vox]
  • Mulberry hit by House of Fraser collapse [FT]
  • $500 million in counterfeit Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Chanel Goods seized in one of the largest busts to date [TheFashionLaw]
  • Bringing affordable fast fashion to Africa [WWD]
CULTURE
  • How make-up swatches became a political battleground [Dazed]
  • In hype beast homes, Supreme accessories are the hot decor [Fashionista]

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. TheCurrent 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.

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Editor's pick Podcast Retail technology

How Tim Kobe shaped Apple and the future of retail

Rachel Arthur and Tim Kobe
Rachel Arthur and Tim Kobe

The type of experiences a retailer brings to their stores shouldn’t be determined by what the competition is doing, but ultimately what’s relevant to each brand, argues Tim Kobe, founder and CEO of strategic design firm Eight Inc, on the latest episode of TheCurrent Innovators podcast.

Kobe is known as the designer behind the original Apple store, which arguably paved the way for what modern day customer experience in retail looks like. But his view is that too many brands are jumping on the “experience” bandwagon because their peers are, and not thinking about how important it is to be sincere to their values.

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

“People have started to expect that the values that the brand is standing for, the thing its known for, is going to come through in the experience,” he explains. It’s only by doing so that will you create experiences consumers want to share, he notes.

He’s been doing that since he founded Eight Inc in 1989 and first worked with Apple, under the direction of late founder Steve Jobs, in 1996. His focus was on moving the store from “a transaction space into a culture space”.

Retail has of course evolved significantly since then, largely thanks to the evolution of technology, e-commerce and the mobile devices shoppers now carry everyday. But what hasn’t changed is human connection, Kobe explains.

“To me the human interaction supercedes all of the tech, all of the AI… I use the iPod as an example. No one remembers how much memory it had, no one remembers how many centimetres thick it was, or millimetres – what they remember is a 1,000 songs in your pocket. It goes back to, ultimately, any product has values if it delivers on human outcomes.”

It’s for that very reason, he argues that the future of retail has to be about the future of human interactions. “[It’s about] understanding what people are doing and how they’re interacting with one another… We have to get back to understanding a bit more about the most successful human interactions that you can create. Put the technology in the background, put it behind, but let the human interactions and that contact be the thing that we get smarter at, the thing that we get better at.”

In this episode with TheCurrent’s Rachel Arthur, he also talks about the idea of “monochannel retail”, which is all about using digital and physical spaces simultaneously, dives into his work in China with brands including Xiaomi and Lincoln, and explains just how brands can get past the format fatigue we’re seeing in stores worldwide today.

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
Editor's pick Retail technology

Cannes Lions 2018: Apple’s Angela Ahrendts on the human side of retail

Angela Ahrendts of Apple at Cannes Lions
Angela Ahrendts of Apple at Cannes Lions

“We decided it was important that the largest tech company in the world, makes the largest investment in humans in the world,” said Angela Ahrendts, SVP of retail at Apple, at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity this week, with regards to her ‘Today at Apple’ initiative.

The scheme, which picked up the Brand Experience & Activation Grand Prix at the festival’s awards last night, sees 18,000 events held in Apple stores around the world every week. The focus particularly is on education, both in terms of helping consumers understand technology, but also the creative or liberal arts.

This links back to something founder Steve Jobs said in 2011: “It is in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough—it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our heart sing.”

As a result, the teams at retail had to evolve too. While Ahrendts has been leading a mass redesign of the stores to what are now referred to as “town squares”, in a bid to drive a sense of community, she has also been rethinking who services those spaces.

The renowned Apple Geniuses continue to exist, but so too do new “creative pros” as a result. These are to the liberal arts what the genius is to technology, she explained. Today there are 3,500 of them worldwide, who all teach everything from photography to art, music and design skills in store.

“These people are our secret sauce,” Ahrendts explained. “This is something Apple has, and Amazon or Alibaba doesn’t: people on the front line.” What’s key is that they are hired for their empathy, rather than their ability to sell. In fact, no one who works at Apple is on any quotas or commission, which is also something that goes back to Steve Jobs’ original vision.

“He told all of the original employees when he opened the first Apple stores, that they weren’t allowed to sell, that their job was to enrich lives and they had to do so through the lens of education,” Ahrendts outlined.

That objective is currently rolling out worldwide, with Apple upping the size of its retail footprint (doubling and tripling some of the existing ones in the process) in order to make space for the boardrooms and educational forums accordingly. Upcoming new openings include a legacy theatre renovation in Milan, a five-storey flagship on the Champs Élysées in Paris, and a reworking of the Washington Carnegie Library in DC.

Retail isn’t dying, said Ahrendts, but it’s evolving fast and it’s only through focusing on human needs that you can today survive. Apple dedicates 40% of its staff hours to service and support and a third of its square footage, she noted. All of that is aiming to cement the notion of the company being primarily a “human” business.