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Editor's pick Retail

3 key takeaways from NRF’s Big Show 2019

NRF’s Big Show landed in New York this week and featured innovations across the spectrum increasingly focusing on seamless and personalized experiences.

In this sense, technologies such as artificial intelligence and the use of data are becoming essential tools to serve the customer tomorrow. Conversations on stage echoed the tech on display on the startup floor, looking at how brands are striving to meet those needs.

Data needs to strike a balance

On an exhibition floor stacked with companies that are leveraging data to better serve the customer, conversations naturally turned to how brands can use it successfully but most importantly, responsibly. Following the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal and the new GDPR regulations in Europe, it is incumbent on brands that want to deploy data to be transparent and clear with how they will use it.

From executives at Ralph Lauren, through to smaller names like LA-based accessories label Hammit, tracking behavior can bring enormous benefits, speakers said. From helping choose product assortment to how to better serve customers online, brands shouldn’t be shy about talking to their methods. If the consumer sees they are getting a service that is relevant and saves them time, they will appreciate it, they noted.

For Aaron Sanandres, co-founder and CEO of menswear label UNTUCK.it, the challenge is how to use that data to serve the customer in-store without sounding too intrusive or, in his own words, “creepy”. While online a “Welcome back, Aaron” greeting might seem like a pleasant surprise, in person, the customer might have an entirely adverse reaction, he said. Getting the balance right is tricky: “Doing that in a way that’s inviting and not off-putting is the challenge.”

Physical retail still rules

Retailers and brands are deploying physical retail in increasingly creative and flexible ways, showing naysayers that the channel is far from dead. Arguably one of its biggest cheerleaders is Story founder, and now Macy’s brand experience officer, Rachel Shechtman, who took to the stage with Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette, to explain how she is thinking like a media company to deliver content – and merchandise – that is relevant to the consumer up-to-the-minute through retail.

For smaller brands, the brick and mortar experience is now an invaluable tool to allow them to become more granular in their approach. While a brand’s retail experience always has to have an overarching layer of consistency, it is by building small moments that are relevant to a specific demographic, at a specific location, that creates a stronger sense of community and loyalty.

For John Frierson, president at LA-based retailer Fred Segal, brands born digitally do this well because they have already worked out all of the kinks of providing a frictionless experience online. They can therefore take a fresh approach when venturing into physical. “When they come down to the real world they are not looking at traditional retail metrics, but rather at storytelling. It then becomes a much more interesting experience,” he said.

Customers and employees sit at equal measure

There is a lot of conversation on how to be customer-centric, but the employee satisfaction piece is more important than ever – both to attract the best talent in an increasingly competitive market, but also to create an internal environment that lives and breathes the company’s mission, speakers commented.

In a conversation about building leadership, Levi’s CEO Chip Bergh believes the company taking a stand is not only important for the consumer it serves, but also because it is what his employees expect of him. CEOs, he said, have the responsibility to themselves and to others to give back.

Brandless founder Tina Sharkey agreed, saying its DNA to be purposeful not only helps repeat customers – wherein those who understand their social mission shop 80% more frequently than those who don’t – but employee retention too. “Employees want to work at a place where they feel they have movement and meaning in their work,” she explained.

Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario noted that while the company’s mission statement is a hugely attractive sell to consumers, it has equal importance to its employees. “You have to inspire the people that work for you into a greater and bigger purpose than themselves, and for us it’s saving the planet.”

How are you thinking about retail innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners for your innovation strategy. TheCurrent 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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digital snippets e-commerce social media Startups technology

Digital snippets: Tommy Hilfiger’s #Instapit, Amazon’s growing fashion offer, Burberry’s Brooklyn Beckham nepotism controversy

Your round-up of the latest stories related to fashion and technology…

tommy

  • Tommy Hilfiger to host first ‘Instapit’ for Instagram content creators at women’s show [WWD]
  • Amazon’s clothing selection is now bigger than 250 Walmart supercenters combined [Re/code]
  • Brooklyn Beckham, Burberry and the new celebrity aristocracy [The Guardian]
  • House of Fraser baffles Twitter with off-the-wall Valentine’s Day #emojinal campaign [Marketing]
  • Dolce & Gabbana’s male models were glued to their ipads on the runway [Yahoo! Style]
  • John Lewis introduces ‘Shazam for clothes’ [Independent]
  • Zalando: the fashion platform looking to China for great customer experience [Econsultancy]
  • How The North Face uses AI to create natural conversations with online shoppers [Medium]
  • Inside three retail innovation labs: Sephora, Kohl’s, and Sears [RetailDive]
  • Social media influencers star in Boohoo #WeAreUs campaign [WWD]
  • 4 influencers break away from a dystopian future in adidas’ edgy new campaign [AdWeek]
  • Fashion and beauty brands are investing more in influencer marketing than ever [Fashionista]
  • Here’s how much celebrities make in the Instagram product placement machine [Jezebel]
  • Uber will now deliver your fancy Nordstrom clothes and flowers too [Mashable]
  • At retail’s ‘Big Show,’ a look at the tech merchants hope will keep them relevant [The Washington Post]
  • Shoppers love click and collect more than any other retail tech [Marketing]
  • Fixing the fitting room [Bloomberg]
  • The latest in so-called ‘beauty tech’ [Racked]
  • A growing internet ecosystem is breeding a radically new generation of fashion-forward men [Quartz]
  • Global luxury: how to win when you’re everywhere [BoF]
  • What worries retailers about their digital transformation [Digiday]
  • Here’s the problem with trendy e-commerce businesses [Fortune]
  • The future of e-commerce: bricks and mortar [The Guardian]
  • This ex-Googler’s fashion aggregation site is pioneering age of digital personalisation [Forbes]
  • New platform Launchmetrics can help fashion publicists track the ‘influence’ of front row guests [Fashionista]
  • Meet the 25-year-old Swedish woman using 3d scanning to make shoes fit perfectly [Forbes]
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Blocks technology

Lo-fi tech a winner at #NRF15 show

This post first appeared on WGSN.com/blogs

NRF_panasonicLOFI

One of the wonderful things about technology in the store is of course the way it can surprise and delight shoppers. While the expo floor of the National Retail Federation’s Big Show in New York this week is comprised of all manner of impressive front and backend IT solutions for retailers, there’s a flurry of much simpler ideas that also seem to be grabbing our attention.

Take Panasonic’s Ultra Short-Throw Lens. Attached to a projector, this enables retailers to map content against any surface they like. It’s not a new idea – projectors have been around for years – but the short throw of this one allows very precise placement and the ability for some great detail on things like shirts and trousers (as pictured), down to even a pair of shoes.

Needless to say this booth was heavily surrounded. Accordingly, it’s a nice reminder of the benefits of a lo-fi approach to technology in an ever-pressured world to go guns blazing with impressive consumer facing work.

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technology

MemoMi MemoryMirror captures attention in retail tech space

MemoMi_MemoryMirror_NRF

Gesture control, connected fitting rooms and cognitive computing all had their place at this year’s Retail’s Big Show from the NRF in New York, but it was a smart mirror within the Intel booth that particularly stood out.

Created by MemoMi, this “MemoryMirror” allows users to capture 10-second clips of themselves trying on various outfits through an interactive body-controlled experience. Using patented “perspective-distortion correction” technology, it shows 360-degree back and side views of each look, and “remembers” each of them so they can be reviewed from the mirror interface afterwards.

Rather than the user having to retry pieces on, different looks can be compared side-by-side through a split screen option, while the colour of garments can also be changed – a video below from 2013 shows the platform in concept. Each result can also be instantly shared with friends via social media, as well as saved to the MemoryMirror smartphone app. That app also has an option to purchase post-visit if the user so decides.

All in, it helps enable a more immersive digital experience in the physical store space, but for retailers the additional beauty of it lies in the valuable data it helps generate.

This (opt-in) shopper information varies from demographics, body measurements and fit, to preferential styles, as well as conversion rates on different pieces. It also offers the potential for personalised communications; notifications sent afterwards on similar styles for instance, or coupons for items tried on, but not purchased.

“MemoryMirror is the only multichannel retail technology that makes trying on clothes digital, interactive, and social,” said Salvador Nissi Vilcovsky, founder and CEO of MemoMi. “Since MemoryMirror ‘remembers’ each customer interaction, it not only allows fashion retailers to provide an exciting in-store, web, and mobile shopping experience, but to collect valuable data on customer behaviors and preferences.”

MemoryMirror is in beta trials with a series of large retailers around the world. Macy’s is one example of a department store that showed particular interest when at the show, MemoMi said.

Other highlights on the tech floor of Retail’s Big Show included IBM Watson and The North Face’s personal shopping assistant; Kohl’s connected fitting room from Accenture and Microsoft; and eBay’s digital storefronts with Rebecca Minkoff, Toms and Sony.

MemoMi_MemoryMirror_NRF2