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Our top 10 innovation podcasts to listen to

 

Big issues such as sustainability, rising technologies and the changing role of the consumer were major topics of conversation in 2018, as evidenced by the top shows on TheCurrent Global’s weekly Innovators podcast.

Throughout the year, we explored far and wide what those leading the industry are doing to tackle some of the most pressing issues it faces today. Here, we highlight 10 of the most interesting conversations had as we look forward to 2019 and providing even more food for thought for our listeners.

Ian Rogers, chief digital officer, LVMH
Ian Rogers at The New York Times International Luxury Conference


Speaking to co-host Liz Bacelar at The New York Times International Luxury Conference in November, LVMH’s Ian Rogers rang the death knell for the chief digital officer, a role he himself holds. The title, he argued, is merely a transitional one as brands become accustomed to a future where there is a digital layer to every consumer interaction. He also talked 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.

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Anna Gedda, head of sustainability, H&M Group
Anna Gedda and Rachel Arthur
Anna Gedda and Rachel Arthur

“We only have one planet, and the toll [the fashion industry] has on resources today is simply unsustainable,” H&M’s Anna Gedda told co-host Rachel Arthur. With that in mind, the Swedish group is pushing towards an ambitious goal of being 100% circular by 2030. The sustainability expert also talked about how collaboration in the industry is critical and the important role artificial intelligence will play in this field.

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Laurence Haziot, global managing director, IBM
Laurence Haziot and Rachel Arthur
Laurence Haziot and Rachel Arthur

A leading woman in the STEM industries, Laurence Haziot, global MD at IBM, believes blockchain will have the same long-term impact that the internet has had on commerce. During this conversation, she broke down what this technology means for fashion, why she is bullish on the efficiencies it could drive throughout the supply chain, and how it’ll play a major role in sustainability and transparency.

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Avery Baker, chief brand officer, Tommy Hilfiger 
Liz Bacelar and Avery Baker
Liz Bacelar and Avery Baker

“When you’re trying to do something that really creates an impact and is somewhat revolutionary, then you’ve got to put all the chips on the table,” said Tommy Hilfiger’s Avery Baker. For the chief brand officer, who has been with the company for 20 years, risk, authenticity and understanding your consumer are the keys to innovation. She also talked about how the brand has translated its American roots and values to a global audience, how it overcame the unexpected lull, and why magic and logic need to work together.

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Martin Urrutia, head of retail innovation, Lego
Lego's Martin Urrutia with Rachel Arthur
Martin Urrutia and Rachel Arthur

Lego seeks feedback from six year-olds, and often breaks into moments of play in order to shift siloed thinking. That, believes Martin Urrutia, is how the company remains focused on the relationship between the user and the brick. In this passionate chat, the head of retail innovation also spoke about the importance that technology and a knowledgeable staff both play in creating elevated retail experiences.

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Jen Rubio, co-founder, Away
Jen Rubio and Liz Bacelar
Jen Rubio and Liz Bacelar

Direct-to-consumer luggage brand, Away, received its first round of funding without even having a product, which is a testament of how clear its vision was from the get-go. Co-founder Jen Rubio talks about how she built a brand based on making travel more seamless, how they overcame their first major hurdle, and why listening to customer feedback and constantly iterating is key to innovation.

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Matthew Woolsey, managing director, NET-A-PORTER
Matthew Woolsey with guest host Rosanna Falconer
Matthew Woolsey with guest host Rosanna Falconer


The future of e-commerce may not be about a traditional website at all, but about existing on multiple other platforms, said NET-A-PORTER’s Matthew Woolsey. One of the luxury retailer’s most expensive sales, a watch, was completed entirely on WhatsApp, for instance. This shows the importance of a customer centric strategy, he explained, from what platform to use to how to integrate data and AI into every process.

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Dan Makoski, VP of design, Walmart
Liz Bacelar and Dan Makoski, Walmart
Liz Bacelar and Dan Makoski

“Design is best when it serves people,” said Walmart’s now former VP of design, Dan Makowski. He spearheaded the world’s largest retailer’s e-commerce redesign, explaining that it all came down to focusing on elevating the shopping experience for the changing customer of today. With so many brands now under its umbrella, such as ModCloth and Jet.com, there was a new focus on having a wider conversation in order to cater to different types of consumers, he noted.

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Sandrine Deveaux, MD of Store of the Future, Farfetch
Rosanna Falconer and Sandrine Deveaux
Sandrine Deveaux with guest host Rosanna Falconer

The store of the future will solve consumer problems in innovative and meaningful ways, said Sandrine Deveaux, MD of Farfetch’s division dedicated to such a cause. Technology, she said, should not be deployed just for the sake of it, but to create better shopping experiences driven by personalization. She referred to the experience of Apple, but the convenience of Amazon, and why she’s on a quest to change the way luxury brands think.

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Guive Balooch, global VP of L’Oréal’s tech incubator
Rachel Arthur and Guive Balooch


L’Oréal is on a mission to marry technology and beauty in order to enhance customer’s lives, said Guive Balooch, global VP of the beauty group’s tech incubator. From the connected hairbrush to the customized formulas or augmented reality makeup apps his team has created, the key is thinking about how to personalize all interactions and solutions for consumers, he explained. “In 10 years time there’s no question to me that every person will have the ability to have the perfect product for them,” he noted.

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Catch up with all of our episodes of the Innovators podcast by the Current Global here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by the Current Global, 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 Retail

Heist opens first physical store, inspired by e-commerce

Heist Studios
Heist Studios

Heist Studios is opening its first temporary brick and mortar space in London, and it’s taking its cues from how customers have shopped online to do so.

Since launching in 2015, the direct-to-consumer (DTC) hosiery brand has held its community at the heart of everything it does – from its R&D process to advertising campaigns. With the launch of its first ever physical space, called the DemoStudio, it is taking learnings from online into the real world. For example, store associates will be trained by Heist’s existing online customer service team, who has been interacting with shoppers since the beginning.

“Until now, Heist has only ever existed online,” said Joanna Bell, head of retail for the brand. “When we made the decision to open a store, we had to ask ourselves, what does Heist look like in person? How do our brand, values and offering translate?”

Excelling in customer service is an overarching characteristic many successful DTC brands have. For this store, customers will also be able to try-before-they-buy, which is a feature already offered on its site, and a hosiery industry first. Similarly most other DTC brands, from mattresses to luggage, offer a ‘100 day guarantee or your money back’ scheme to encourage customers to take the plunge and buy from a new player in the industry.

At the DemoStudio, unwanted tights from the try-before-you-buy experience will be donated to Smart Works, a charity that provides interview clothing and coaching to long-term unemployed women hoping to enter the workplace. Customers will also be able to drop off any interview-ready clothing donations in-store. The brand is encouraging the activity on its Instagram page, where it gives customers tips on what clothing is appropriate to donate.

Heist Studios
Heist Studios

The Heist DemoStudio will be open from September 8th until January 4th in the Seven Dials area of Covent Garden in London, which is also where luggage brand Away opened its first ever international store last week. As retail experts and the media declare the death of the high street, the opening of two DTC stores in the same neighborhood is an indication that reports may often be exaggerated.

“The highstreet is not dying. Brands that fail to evolve are,” adds Bell. “We see an exciting future on the high street for brands to grow stronger by bringing the best of both online and offline worlds together to improve customer experience.”

Earlier this summer, we also spoke to Jen Rubio, president and co-founder of Away, for TheCurrent Innovators podcast, where she talked about the industry’s radical shift in physical retail. As legacy brands and mega stores shutter, the real estate industry is increasingly opening up to the idea of new players who often enter the field by hosting pop-ups to measure demand – which is part of the strategy for both Away and Heist – to then launch permanent brick and mortar spaces thereafter.

Also previously featured on the podcast is Toby Darbyshire, CEO of Heist Studios, who spoke about the importance of community and inclusivity when innovating in tights.

How are you thinking about retail 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 product Retail Startups

Away luggage on going beyond the VC hype

Jen Rubio and Liz Bacelar
Jen Rubio and Liz Bacelar

Direct-to-consumer brands don’t often live up to the hype placed on them by endless amounts of VC funding and Silicon Valley fandom, says Jen Rubio, co-founder of travel brand Away, on the latest episode of TheCurrent Innovators podcast.

Speaking to Liz Bacelar, founder of TheCurrent, at the British Fashion Council’s annual Fashion Forum in London, Rubio explains that from its inception in 2016, she and her co-founder Steph Korey (who she met while both working at Warby Parker), were careful not to run their business like a lot of other brands in the space.

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“If you go back in time a little bit, a lot of new brands and e-commerce companies were positioning themselves as tech companies and raising a lot of VC money at tech valuations that would never live up to the public market at how retail companies are valued, and then run into the trouble of needing these stores and claiming they are a retail company and not a tech one,” she explains. “We saw a lot of this happening in the industry and from the beginning Steph and I said, this is not how we are going to run our business.

After pitching Away as a brand aiming to make travel more seamless, as opposed to simply making luggage, the business famously received a first round of investment before even having a physical product, for instance.

From the lightbulb moment for the brand’s concept through to its launch, Away spoke to over 800 people about what elements would make the perfect suitcase. It is that open approach to constant feedback that it continues to focus on to this day – helping to inform its product collaborations, new features and color palettes, and even locations for pop-ups and permanent retail spaces.

In this conversation, Rubio also tells Liz how its first major hurdle – airline regulation that meant their smart suitcase was no longer allowed onboard – was an important opportunity to strengthen the relationship with Away customers; how retail landlords are finally giving non-legacy brands a chance; and why understanding your consumer is key to constant innovation.

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 technology

10 wearable tech gifts for the fashionistas in your life

wearabletech_GIFTGUIDE

If the new Hermès Apple Watch is a little out of price range, but you’re after something more than the standard fitness band to fulfill your wearable tech gift giving quest this holiday, look no further…

In honour of those thinking about fashion and not just function, our Forbes round-up of 10 wearables now on the market, is well worth checking out. Ranging from Everpurse x Kate Spade New York, to Altruis, The Unseen and Topshop x bPay, they not only do neat things like pay for products or help charge your other devices, but look pretty good too. There’s also Unmade, Gemio, Ringly, Away, Misfit x BaubleBar and Love & Robots.