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Editor's pick Retail technology

4 technologies aiding in-store navigation

Big box retailers including Walmart’s Sam’s Club, Home Depot, Lowe’s and Target are using a variety of interesting wayfinding technologies to improve customer navigation inside the physical store.

The result is designed to enable efficiency in the customer journey. This is in response to the fact that as online sales growth surpasses brick-and-mortar, customers are expecting more than just easy access to online products in physical stores, they also want to find them faster.

Cue solutions ranging from robots to augmented reality mapping. Read on for some of the strongest examples in the market to date…

Augmented Reality
Legoland Denmark augmented reality app

Home store Lowe’s was one of the first retailers to introduce an app with augmented reality indoor mapping. Instead of a 2-D image, this mobile service projects navigation signs and price specials on top of the user’s field of view – meaning they can see which direction to go in projected through their smartphones straight onto the floor or space in front of them. 

Outside of the retail space, Legoland in Denmark has recently experimented with an AR wayfinding app that helps visitors navigate around the park via a mini Lego avatar. They can also then receive real-time information on wait times ahead of them.

Voice Search
Sam’s Club Scan & Go app

Sam’s Club Now in Dallas, Walmart’s test store for technology, is also focusing on a mobile-first shopping experience. Its Scan & Go app helps customers easily access products with an integrated system using voice search for navigation. When a shopper tells the app what they need, a map directs them to the item on the shopfloor. 

Home Depot’s version meanwhile, allows users to use voice or visual search to find a specific item and then be shown exactly where it’s located within the store. Macy’s launched something similar back in 2016 with IBM Watson, which enabled users to ask question as to where specific products, departments, and brands were located, as well as what services and facilities could be found in a particular store.

Robotics
The LoweBot

From voice technology then comes robotics. Lowe’s was also one of the first to make it easier for customers to find help on the shop floor by deploying robot attendants. The “LoweBot” responds to voice commands, guiding customers through the aisles with smart laser sensors.

For Kyle Nel, executive director at Lowe’s Innovation Labs, the LoweBot resolves a common problem: “When I walk into a store and I want to know where something is I want to know right then — I don’t want to have to download an app — a robot can really help with that.”

Real-time Beacons
Target

Target is heavily investing in beacon technology for the sake of navigation also. It renewed its stores to use energy-efficient LED lighting with built-in Bluetooth beacons, which enable the store’s app to show customers their real-time location on the shop floor in a similar experience to that of Google Maps. They also help notify customers when they walk by one of Target’s “Cartwheel” deals.

Gatwick Airport has also invested in beacon technology as part of its £2.5bn transformation. Here, 2,000 indoor navigation beacons have been installed to help customers easily navigate around the terminals and reduce the amount of missed flights. Augmented reality plays a part here too, with a blue line mapped through the smartphone for users to show them which direction to go in.

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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digital snippets e-commerce Editor's pick mobile social media technology

Digital snippets: high-skilled immigration, The Outnet’s social study, Kors on customer loyalty

digital snippets michael kors
Michael Kors on Instagram

We’re back with another round-up of everything you might have missed in fashion, digital comms and technology news over the past week. Top of the agenda is a perspective on why high-skilled immigration policy is important for fashion and tech, while there’s also highlights from The Outnet, Michael Kors, Tiffany & Co, Zaraa and moe.

We’re now taking a leaf out of the European guidebook and having a bit of a summer break. Hoping you all get to do the same and we’ll see you soon!


  • Why high-skilled immigration policy is vital for fashion and tech [Medium]

  • The Outnet’s social media study on joy provides key content lessons for brands [Forbes]

  • Michael Kors is turning Instagram into a customer-loyalty vehicle (as pictured) [Glossy]

  • Tiffany & Co releases a Snapchat filter [Allure]

  • Zara pulls products after plagiarism allegations on social media [Retail Dive]

  • Yoox Net-a-Porter boss Federico Marchetti looks to China for sales growth [South China Morning Post]

  • Madewell launches 24 days of denim campaign [WWD]

  • Selfridges launches social shopping app [Mobile Marketing]

  • Nike gives babies a stirring speech on unfairness, ambition and triumph [AdWeek]

  • Primark and Ross thumb their noses at e-commerce, will it work? [Forbes]

  • Combatant Gentlemen is tech first, fashion second [WSJ]

  • Fashion retailer New York & Company plans to lift sales with Shopkick rewards [Geomarketing]

  • Vodafone’s Internet of Things swimsuit detects harmful UV levels [Campaign]

  • Drones: Giant leap forward as UK agrees Amazon tests [Trendwalk]

  • Why retailers still struggle with omnichannel—and how they can conquer the challenge [Retail Dive]

  • Inside Pinterest’s effort to woo fashion brands [Glossy]

  • The internet is so bad, it’s awesome [BoF]

  • The pull of personal stylists in the online-shopping era [The Atlantic]

  • What 3D printing means for fashion [BoF]
Categories
Editor's pick Startups technology

John Lewis returns with JLAB start-up contest

jlab

It was a start-up based on beacons that won John Lewis’ inaugural JLAB tech accelerator programme last year, now the department store is turning to the likes of the connected home, effortless payments and meshing the digital and physical for a second spin of the contest.

The initiative is breaking down entrants into specific categories for its 2015 return in an overall bid to “develop products and services that will shape the retail experience of the future”.

Applications are now open until May 1 for the chance to win a place as one of 10 start-ups within JLAB for 12-weeks this summer, and I am honoured to be one of a number of mentors helping the participants in developing their ideas. My contemporaries will be announced in due course.

An overall winner will then be decided at a pitch day in September, receiving up to £100,000 in further investment as well as a contract to trial their solution in stores.

Said Paul Coby, IT Director at John Lewis: “As an established business we have certain ways of doing things and JLAB is an opportunity to inject the start-up spirit into our innovation efforts. Our inspiration is our founder Spedan Lewis – what new things would he be doing today? After the success of last year, I’m looking forward to working with a fresh group of start-ups with exciting ideas that could help shape the customer and Partner experience at John Lewis for years to come.”

The 2014 winner, Localz, is currently trialling its micro-location technology at Peter Jones. One of its key solutions surrounds triggering a customer’s Click & Collect order to be packed up for them as they enter the store in order to speed up collection times.

See more via www.jlab.co.uk, and watch this space for further news.

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digital snippets e-commerce film social media technology

Digital snippets: eBay, Westfield, Harrods, wearables, Macy’s, Uggs, Mercedes-Benz, adidas

A round-up of the latest stories to know about surrounding all things fashion and tech…

ebay_ninewest

  • eBay unveils retail platform: all about omni [WWD]
  • Kevin McKenzie, global chief digital officer at Westfield Group, on the mall of the future [BoF]
  • Harrods to focus on gamification after being ‘undeterred’ by mixed results [Retail Week]
  • The 7 best pieces of wearable tech we saw at CES [Fashionista]
  • Macy’s restructures to boost digital marketing, mulls off-price plans [MediaPost]
  • Uggs tests RFID in a bid to close the online-offline gap [Retail Week]
  • Mercedes-Benz just made a great fashion ad, and it’s a total piss-take [The Drum]
  • adidas launches Superstar campaign video featuring Rita Ora, David Beckham and Pharrell Williams [The Independent]
  • Lady Gaga has turned her Instagram selfies into ads for Japanese beauty brand Shiseido [Business Insider]
  • Max Factor puts a twist on the no-makeup selfie with #GlamJan campaign [Creativity Online]
  • Moncler creates fake snow app for online fun [Luxury Daily]
  • Montblanc announces a smart bracelet for your fancy watch [TechCrunch]
  • From robots to beacons, the future of retail is at hand [BrandChannel]
  • Snapchat wins hearts and minds on Madison Avenue [Digiday]
  • How Snapchat can help retailers kill ‘showrooming’ [AdAge]
  • As Pinterest pitches ads, brands flock to ‘Pinfluencers’ [WSJ]
  • Google stops selling Google Glass [Marketing Magazine]
  • How jewellery makers (not a tech company) finally cracked the battery problem for wearables [Forbes]
  • Cuff raises $5 million Series A and partners with Richline to bring smart jewellery to the mainstream [TechCrunch]
  • Materials science is the new black: 3D and 4D printing the future [Apparel]
  • Disney and McLaren to fund wearable tech competition for start-ups [The Drum]
  • “Back To The Future” power laces herald quantum wave of shoe tech at Nike [PSFK]
  • The patented Nike shirt that could track your heart rate and blood pressure while you exercise [Quartz]
Categories
digital snippets e-commerce film mobile social media technology

Digital snippets: Alibaba, Rebecca Minkoff, Kate Spade, Marc Jacobs, John Lewis, Urban Outfitters, Mulberry

A round-up of the latest stories to know about surrounding all things fashion and tech…

rebeccaminkoff

  • Alibaba’s ‘Singles Day’ sales top $9 billion, bigger than Black Friday [MarketWatch]
  • Why Rebecca Minkoff and eBay are betting on smart dressing rooms [Fast Company]
  • Anna Kendrick makes something out of nothing in Kate Spade’s holiday ad [AdWeek]
  • Marc Jacobs built an in-house app for shopping on Instagram [Bostinno]
  • John Lewis and Microsoft unite to create tech-driven in-store experience around Christmas ad campaign with ‘Monty’s Magical Toy Machine’ [The Drum]
  • Urban Outfitters using beacons, tries pinging your phone in the fitting room [AdWeek]
  • Mulberry ‘wins Christmas’ with gifting ad [Campaign Live]
  • Harrods launches animated festive film [The Independent]
  • Burberry and Printemps promise a magical Christmas with interactive experience [Pursuitist]
  • Ralph Lauren and Harrods partner for mobile-enabled display [Mobile Marketing]
  • Behind Zegna’s Big Bet on Film [BoF]
  • Shoppable video: more retailers looking at film as direct sales channel [Digiday]
  • What’s trending in China’s digital luxury marketing [JingDaily]
  • Ballet shoe records specific dancer movements [PSFK]
  • Native advertising and style bloggers: is the party over? [Fashionista]
  • These jeans come in 400 sizes [Co.Design]
  • Amazon plans Prime Air delivery drone tests in the UK [TNW]
Categories
technology

Smart earrings, unloseable sunglasses and safety jewellery – 3 wearables to know now

Tzukuri-Blueprint-1940x1222

There are two pretty simple rules for wearable tech to be successful in my mind, 1) does it look good, and 2) does it do something the intended user actually cares about. For quite some time, the majority of solutions out there frequently fell down on one of those two points, if not both. Fortunately, that’s beginning to change. As the industry becomes more fragmented, the products getting released are seeming ever more appealing.

Perhaps it’s as simple as the fact that with so many to choose from, there eventually has to be something to like? Either way, three new ones – the Tzukuri unloseable sunglasses (as pictured), Artemis safety-enhancing jewellery, and Ear-O-Smart earrings – could be worth knowing about.

Each of them is a decent statement from a style perspective (not too overpowering in terms of looking like technology being the main thing) and also offer a solution consumers would consider using. We won’t necessarily all be falling over ourselves to purchase them, but we might be more likely to think about them than a watch that alerts us to social media posts, or a bracelet with flashing LED lights.

Head over to Forbes.com for the full story.

Categories
e-commerce Editor's pick mobile technology

Are we over the next big thing? Omnichannel’s reality bites at Shop.org Summit

This post first appeared on WGSN.com/blogs

shoporg

The US digital retail crowd hit Seattle this week for the National Retail Federation’s annual e-commerce event, the Shop.org Summit.

Once a must-attend event for cutting-edge insights on what newness was coming out of the online retail space, this year felt like a repeat of many strategies we’ve heard before: the importance of mobile, the push for omnichannel, the overwhelming plethora of data.

Perhaps it was merely a sign of our industry and how it’s merged: having a separate brick and mortar conference in January (NRF Big Show) and a digital version in October when we live in an increasing omnichannel world, is starting to seem redundant.

Was is still worth attending? Yes. But retail’s tech rockstars seemed to have moved on from the speaker floor this year, leaving us with a series of sessions that felt like they were designed to enlighten the troops rather than inspire the next generation of e-commerce strategists. It was for the doers rather than the thinkers. But maybe, for US retail, that’s exactly where we’re at; in the trenches executing on omnichannel more than merely talking about it.

Those who attended may have come for innovation, but actually what they got was an agenda otherwise driven pretty heavily by the news. Alibaba’s swift movement into the US and its recent IPO on the New York Stock Exchange leading to a valuation of $231bn, made way for a focus on marketplace disruptions and debates about the Chinese giant and its Amazon and eBay counterparts.

The emergence of Apple Pay, another unsurprising one, meant discussion around what all is happening with mobile payments, where we expect that to go, and when we need to really be thinking about it.

Macy’s recently announced plans to introduce 4,000 beacons similarly led to talk on beacons on the expo floor. Confirmations from other big stores including Kohl’s and The North Face of forthcoming trials especially in the run up to Holiday only added to this.

With this most important season of retail just ahead of us, it’s perhaps inevitable the focus was on the execution of new technologies rather than finding the next big thing. It’s just a shame in a town that’s home to Amazon, Starbucks and Nordstrom there wasn’t also something that might at least inspire it.

Categories
Editor's pick mobile Startups technology

John Lewis announces beacon technology start-up Localz as £100k JLAB incubator winner

This post first appeared on WGSN.com/blogs

Jlab_Localz

Beacon technology got another nod of approval from the retail sector today as start-up Localz was announced as the winner of John Lewis’ JLAB tech incubator.

The ‘micro-location’ technology business wins £100,000 in investment as well as the chance to trial its solution with the department store in the UK. Its premise is to provide customers with access to enhanced services on their smartphones based on their physical location.

It could detect when they walk into a store, for instance, and automatically trigger that their Click & Collect order be prepared in order to help speed up that process. Similarly it could help with navigation around the stores based on online wish lists.

“It’s all about choice, designed to make shopping easier for those who wish to use it,” reads the write-up.

The concept was shaped and honed within the JLAB incubator over a period of 12 weeks this summer. It followed hundreds of start-ups applying to participate in the contest, which called for innovations that could shape the future of the retail experience.

Localz was among five finalists that received mentorship from experts including Luke Johnson, chairman of Risk Capital Partners; Sara Murray OBE, founder of confused.com; and Bindi Karia, vice president of entrepreneur banking at Silicon Valley Bank. The other start-ups were Musaic, SpaceDesigned, Tap2Connect and Viewsy.

Paul Coby, IT Director at John Lewis, said: “Innovation is at the heart of John Lewis and JLAB, our first tech incubator, has given us a new way to explore the technologies that will change how we all shop in the future. It’s been a hugely rewarding and educational experience, drawing on a diverse group of people from a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives, and we have a very worthy winner who we’re looking forward to working with in the months ahead.”

Stuart Marks, a partner in JLAB, said Localz won because the team felt it had the potential to become a long term partner to John Lewis and to provide continuous innovation for their customers. It will continue to develop its technology in conjunction with John Lewis and will launch live trials in store at a date yet to be announced.

Categories
business digital snippets e-commerce film mobile Startups technology

Digital snippets: Condé Nast, Gap, Hermès, Rag & Bone, John Lewis and more

A round-up of the latest stories to know about surrounding all things fashion and tech…

gap_normcore_ZosiaMamet

  • Condé Nast to sell Fairchild Fashion Media, including WWD, for $100 million [NY Times]
  • Gap’s fall campaign is an ode to normcore trend, Zosia Mamet (as pictured), Elisabeth Moss, Anjelica Huston among stars [Racked]
  • Hermès creates quirky app to promote men’s A/W 2014 accessories [Creativity]
  • Rag & Bone autumn/winter collection stylised in dance performance [PSFK]
  • Hawes & Curtis, House of Fraser and Bentalls install beacon-enabled mannequins [The Drum]
  • However, John Lewis to seek ‘romance’ in beacon technology before committing [The Drum]
  • Topshop and Miss Selfridge in online push into China, launching on ShangPin.com website [FT]
  • Condé Nast’s Lucky magazine merging with online retailer BeachMint [WSJ]
  • Will Apple’s ‘iWatch’ rattle luxury watchmakers? [BoF]
  • A girl faces her monstrous fears in Old Navy’s back-to-school musical, generates five million views to date [AdWeek]
  • Six takeaways from Gap and Old Navy about brand-building in China [AdAge]
  • New shopping app, Spring, makes the mall obsolete [Wired]
  • Rise of shoppable content will change the face of advertising [The Guardian]
  • Fashion start-ups bring style to Silicon Roundabout [FT]
  • Can technology solve the fit problem in fashion e-commerce? [BoF]
  • Omote real-time projection mapping demoed with make-up on model’s face [DigitalBuzzBlog]
Categories
Editor's pick technology

A whistle-stop tour through the future shopping experience

This article first appeared on Dazed 

dazed_futureshopping_pinarviola
Have you ever had one of those moments where the person walking down the street just a few steps ahead of you, is wearing a coat you’re desperate to own? Once upon a time you may have built up the courage to chase after her and ask where it’s from. Not far from now you’ll be able to pull out your smartphone, snap a shot of it and image recognition technology from Cortexica or in apps like Asap54 and Snap Fashion will accurately do its work to tell you not only what brand it is, but where nearby has it in stock too.

On this occasion, imagine you’re headed to an upmarket department store with availability in your size. As you walk through the door iBeacon transmitters using Bluetooth low energy technology activate and send a welcome notification to your phone. The message lets you know there’s also a 15% off offer on all products today.

You click to open the corresponding app for the store itself, and it syncs with the earlier image recognition system to show you exactly where to find the item you want. You’re wearing your new designer (Ray-Ban) smart glasses (Google), which personalise your view on the store – an augmented reality overlay from Blippar is placed on your surroundings directing you with turn-by-turn navigation as you walk.

Additional information pops up as you head that way, alerting you to items you specifically might like. It knows your purchase history and can flag up pieces that will style well with what you already own. Privacy isn’t a concern – you’ve opted-in for this. You know this department store well and like a classic loyalty programme, there’s a sense of value attached to letting them know who you are.

1080000

Further special prices and offers are highlighted and adapted especially for you based on your social influence too. If you opt to share with friends you will receive yet a further discount.

As you lift dresses and tops off the rails, the hangers activate screens alongside you featuring images and videos of models wearing the items. The system is gesture-controlled thanks to Microsoft Kinect, so you can wave to scroll beyond each shot to see further details about each garment; where it comes from, what the manufacturing process was, even what the washing instructions are.

You can also pull up a virtual assistant to help you. Created by a company called Fluid, this is a cognitive computing based system developed using IBM Watson. It understands natural human language allowing you to ask it a question as you would a friend. As it’s also based on voice recognition, you simply tell it about your upcoming holiday and request suggestions for what you might need.

It returns a list of specific products based on the climate of your destination as well as what it knows is trending in that market. Rather than relying on keywords to surface specific product, the artificially intelligent app (yes, think robot) acts more like a personal shopper would, offering options based on context.

You take all the items you’ve selected into the fitting room. Each garment has a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag, meaning the room recognises each piece individually. As you try them on, content is activated on the mirror, including recommendations for what you could wear with it, like a necklace and pair of shoes to go with the dress, or a bag to match your skirt. A 3D printer outside from 3D Systems allows you to instantly print any matching accessories you wish to buy.

The virtual experience, this time powered by Accenture and Microsoft, also shows you what the piece you’re wearing would look like on you in different colours. It lets you connect with a sales assistant automatically who brings you in new pieces, then offers you that all-important human connection in terms of advice and expertise on what suits you best.

The mirror you’re looking into also has a memory. Created by MemoMi with Intel, it has saved 360-degree views of what you’ve tried on so far to a right hand column on the display, so when you’re still not quite sure on what to buy you can go back and look at each of them, or share a couple of them with friends to help.

One of the dresses you want for an upcoming event doesn’t quite fit as nicely as you’d like it to, so you activate the connected fitting room to do a full 3D body scan of your figure. That data can then be sent off with the item to be tailored exactly to fit. The sales assistant lets you know you also have the option to have it made up in other fabrics – she passes you her tablet, which uses haptic technology (tiny vibrations that recreate what something feels like) to allow you to run your finger over the screen and feel the different textures.

You make your choices and use the e-tattoo on your wrist with personal authentication details to make payment; it syncs once again with your store loyalty scheme so you get the best deal possible that day.

As you head out you decide to stop at a virtual storefront powered by eBay, this time to select food for dinner. It senses the Apple health tracker you’re wearing and through a number of apps you’ve downloaded can identify the nutrients you’re missing from the day. It suggests a recipe, and at a quick touch of a button syncs with the sensors in your fridge at home and detects the ingredients you’re missing. They’ll be delivered by drone by the time you get home.

Visual Credits:

Artwork by Pinar & Viola

Model wears Janneke Verhoeven

3D pet designed by Alewism