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

ICYMI: Brand activism, Adidas on evolving dark social, the role of augmented reality this holiday


TOP STORIES
  • The thorny business of brand activism [BoF]
  • How Adidas is evolving dark social to stay ahead of the game [Marketing Week]
  • Target’s Christmas tree sales aided by augmented-reality feature [Bloomberg
TECHNOLOGY
  • DeepMind’s AlphaZero now showing human-like intuition in historical ‘turning point’ for AI [Telegraph]
  • Alphabet’s Wing spinoff is about to launch drone deliveries in Finland [Technology Review]
  • Robot janitors are coming to mop floors at a Walmart near you [Bloomberg]
  • Athlete’s Foot announces new 3D tech [Retailbiz]
  • eBay will now authenticate luxury jewelry items [TechCrunch]
  • YNAP supports Hour of Code with fashion hackathon for London children [The Industry
  • 70% of consumers still want human interaction versus bots [Retail Dive]
SUSTAINABILITY & PURPOSE
  • UN climate change chatbot makes saving the world personal [CNET]
  • Stella McCartney is on a quest to save you from the fashion industry [Wired]
  • Kering partners with Savory Institute for regenerative sourcing plan [WWD]
  • United Wardrobe launches program for brands to sell unsold stock [Fashion Network]
  • Why Chanel’s exotic skins ban is wrong [BoF]
  • Can transparency solve the consumer trust deficit? [BoF]
  • Stella McCartney, Burberry among fashion brands uniting against climate change [CNN]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Amazon Go cashierless stores are coming to airports [Venture Beat]
  • Alibaba signs agreement with Belgium for e-commerce trade hub [Fashion Network]
  • Why luxury shopping via WhatsApp, WeChat may be the future [SCMP]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Under Armour is running a YouTube series on IGTV [Digiday]
  • Love Magazine bringing video issue to YouTube [WWD
  • Coty unveils Google Assistant tool for Clairol [WWD]
  • Swiss hotel chain offers a ‘social media sitter’ to handle your Instagram while you relax [TheNext Web]
PRODUCT
  • Marc Jacobs set to launch affordable ‘The Marc Jacobs’ line [FashionNetwork]
  • Heineken launches capsule collection with Union [FashionUnited]
BUSINESS
  • Just 20 fashion companies are making almost all of the industry’s profits [Quartz]
  • Ted Baker founder Ray Kelvin to take leave of absence [TheGuardian]
  • Calvin Klein is facing the fact that it’s a jeans-and-undies company now[Quartzy]
  • L’Oréal launches VC fund [WWD]
CULTURE
  • Virgil Abloh on the power of being creative without limits [Dazed]
  • K-pop’s popularity is starting to shape fashion worldwide [Vox]
  • The $4 trillion reason so many companies are rebranding for wellness [Quartzy]

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 data digital snippets e-commerce Startups sustainability technology

What you missed: retail’s existential reckoning, Echo Dot is the Christmas best seller, bots on the rise

2017 was the year of retail’s existential reckoning
2017 was the year of retail’s existential reckoning

A round-up of everything you might have missed in relevant fashion business, digital comms and tech industry news over the final fortnight of 2017.


TOP STORIES
  • 2017 was the year of retail’s existential reckoning [Quartz]
  • The Echo Dot was the best-selling product on all of Amazon this holiday season [TechCrunch]
  • Bots are about to get better at customer support than humans [Wired]
  • The last days of Colette [Garage]

BUSINESS
  • Retailers feel shoppers’ Christmas cheer [WSJ]
  • Jonathan Saunders steps down from DVF role [Guardian]
  • Meet Oscar Olsson, the mind behind H&M’s new brand for millennials [TheCut]
  • Reformation raises $25 million to fuel brick-and-mortar growth [BoF]
  • Clothing companies are trashing unsold merchandise instead of donating it [TheOutline]
  • With Phoebe Philo leaving Céline, what’s next? [BoF]
  • UK cotton back in production in Manchester [BBC]

MARKETING
  • Adidas brings all-star talent and tech to the table [BrandChannel]

E-COMMERCE
  • Prada launches e-commerce platform in China [Reuters]
  • The fake news of e-commerce [Racked]
  • There’s money to be made in returning e-commerce orders [LA Times]
  • What fashion brands can learn from Nike’s first six months as an Amazon partner [Glossy]
  • E-commerce company ThredUP rolls out AI-powered ‘goody boxes’ to rival discount clothing chains [AdWeek]

STORES
  • Walmart is developing a personal-shopper service for rich moms — and a store with no cashiers [Recode]
  • Sephora mastered in-store sales by investing in data and cutting-edge technology [AdWeek]

TECHNOLOGY
  • This is Magic Leap’s mixed reality headset [Engadget]
  • If the bitcoin bubble bursts, this is what will happen next [Wired]
  • Mall of America gets high-tech with chatbot and humanoid robots [Racked]
  • Ikea is stepping into virtual reality by creating a game for new store openings [AdWeek]
  • Beauty tech made major strides in 2017, and it’s only the beginning [Fashionista]

START-UPS
  • Target to buy Shipt for $550 million in challenge to Amazon [Bloomberg]
  • Meet the nanotech scientist who used her mad skills to build a better party clutch [FastCompany]
Categories
mobile social media

Six tips for nailing your chatbot content strategy as a competitive advantage for the future

Burberry's Facebook Messenger chatbot
Burberry’s Facebook Messenger chatbot

Chatbots have received somewhat of a mixed response since they hit the market at scale – both praised for the ease with which they can offer customer service for instance, yet critiqued for their lack of true intelligence.

This is something we’re working towards, according to Ben Parr, co-founder of chatbot building platform Octane AI, who spoke at Lions Innovation, a division of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, last week. “The technology for bots that are truly intelligent and personalised based on AI is just not there yet to be totally reliable 100% of the time, but in the future, as the tech evolves and improves, they will be,” he explained.

In the meantime, what’s important is to create an experience that is repeatable and reliable, he urged. Building an audience through such platforms now enables brands to be at the forefront of this space once we are there, he added, making it a competitive advantage for the future.

Head over to Forbes to read the six tips he gave for how to nail your chatbot content strategy on that basis.

Categories
business digital snippets e-commerce film social media Startups sustainability technology

What you missed: The sewbots are coming, retail automation, bots to buy Supreme

Sewbots - The rise of the "sewbot" marks a new industrial revolution in garment manufacturing
The rise of the “sewbot” marks a new industrial revolution in garment manufacturing

A round-up of everything you might have missed in relevant fashion business, digital comms and tech industry news over the past fortnight.


TOP STORIES
  • The sewbots are coming! [BoF]
  • Nearly half of all retail jobs could be lost to automation within 10 years [Fortune]
  • The botmakers who rule the obsessive world of streetwear [Wired]
  • The ugly problem of pretty packaging [Racked]

BUSINESS
  • New Ralph Lauren CEO has work cut out for him after dismal year [Retail Dive]
  • Is British fast fashion too fast? [Racked]
  • Why the rout in retail shouldn’t be a big worry for US economy [Bloomberg]
  • Zara and H&M back in-store recycling to tackle throwaway culture [The Guardian]

SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Publishers are using Facebook video to drive commerce revenue [Digiday]
  • Bringing retail to ‘the speed of feed’: Facebook’s quest to court luxury brands [Glossy]
  • Instagram launches selfie filters, copying the last big Snapchat feature [TechCrunch]
  • Sales of this L’Oreal product rose 51% after ‘everyday influencers’ promoted it heavily on Snapchat [AdWeek]

MARKETING
  • Why there’s no yoga in Lululemon’s first global campaign [AdAge]
  • Community is core to next-gen brands [BoF]
  • Bill Nighy asks ‘Why would anyone shop at TK Maxx?’ in retailer’s zany TVC [The Drum]
  • Selfridges leverages Positive Luxury’s Butterfly Mark to up transparency [Luxury Daily]

RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Inside 24 Sèvres, LVMH’s new multi-brand e-commerce play [BoF]
  • J Crew on underestimating retail tech [WSJ]
  • ‘Ultra-fast’ fashion players gain on Zara, H&M [Retail Dive]

TECHNOLOGY
  • Fashion and technology will inevitably become one [Engadget]
  • Is the ‘RFID retail revolution’ finally here? a Macy’s case study [Forbes]
  • How brands are using AI to find influencer matches [AdAge]
  • Mobile tech, digital platforms, AI among key topics at Decoded Fashion London Summit [WWD]
  • Why Amazon’s delivery-drone team is obsessed with geese [Bloomberg]
  • Google touts Assistant’s new e-commerce features [Retail Dive]

START-UPS
  • Miroslava Duma launches fashion tech lab with $50 million to invest [BoF]
  • Why do so many big fashion and beauty brands want to support start-ups? [Fashionista]
Categories
Editor's pick mobile social media technology

Chatbots and VR lead this season’s top tech trends in retail

Google's Window Wonderland virtual reality experience
Google’s Window Wonderland virtual reality experience

Technology is playing an ever-important role in the shopping side of the holiday season. Logistics aside, which is of course critical at this time of year, tech is also proving increasingly key from an experiential and a customer service perspective both online and offline. Leading that charge for 2016 are virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI).

Google has employed the former this year, for instance, to allow consumers to ‘walk’ along Fifth Avenue in New York to experience all the holiday window displays.

Window Wonderland, as the initiative is called, is a VR experience that lets users view 18 different retailers including Bloomingdale’s, Barneys New York, Saks Fifth Avenue, Tiffany & Co, Burberry and more. They can zoom in on the displays and even listen to audio guides from some of the store creatives talking about this year’s work.

The experience was produced by Google’s Art, Copy & Code team by taking hundreds of high-resolution images of each store and then stitching them together so they can be viewed via a web browser, on a smartphone or tablet, or through a VR headset. The effect is almost like a moving image; a rich, life-like panorama.

“We all love the window tradition here. It’s such an iconic thing. We thought it might be fun to put a unique Google spin on it and bring it to the masses,” Aman Govil, head of the Art, Copy & Code projects team, told Fast Company.

VR is also getting a spin in the UK, where department store John Lewis has introduced an experience tied to its Buster the Boxer advertising campaign. Visitors to its Oxford Street flagship in London can enter the world of Buster and all his friends using an Oculus Rift. They can also view a 360-degree film using Google Cardboard or by watching it on YouTube.

Artificial intelligence, meanwhile, is being heavily experimented with in the form of chatbots for the holidays.

IBM Watson has worked with Mall of America for instance, on a Facebook Messenger bot called E.L.F, which stands for Experiential List Formulator. Created in collaboration with Watson developer partner Satisfi, it helps visitors plan a more personalised experience to the shopping centre by determining things like how much time they have and what activities they prefer.

“The holiday season is upon us and, for many, this represents the most hectic shopping period of the year. Whether you’re navigating crowded shopping centres or debating what gifts to buy, the in-store experience can be particularly overwhelming,” explains Don White, CEO of Satisfi. The chatbot aims to better understand, connect with, and create superior experiences for shoppers accordingly.

The E.L.F chatbot from IBM Watson and Satisfi
The E.L.F chatbot from IBM Watson and Satisfi

The launch of Facebook Messenger’s bot store earlier this year is behind much of the drive for experimentation in this space. Already throughout 2016, we’ve seen fashion and retail brands including Burberry, Tommy Hilfiger, Everlane, eBay and more launching their own versions. In total, 33,000 different bots have been introduced since April.

For the holidays, Burberry has extended its version from the original one it launched for London Fashion Week. This time, users are introduced to its The Tale of Thomas Burberry festive campaign, which tells the story behind its founder. Different layers of the tale are unveiled using emojis, including the invention of Gabardine fabric in 1879 using a raindrop, the introduction of Sienna Miller’s character using a heart, and more. Users can also see behind-the-scenes of the film, browse gift ideas and opt into a ‘live chat’ with a human consultant.

This mix of storytelling, product discovery and customer service is seen as the likely future for chatbots; making consumer engagement possible at a much wider scale than could have been achieved before. It’s about answering as much as possible for shoppers through AI, before escalating to a human only when needed.

Burberry's Facebook Messenger chatbot
Burberry’s Facebook Messenger chatbot

Gift guides is another example. Chatbots are making suggestions for what to buy at a much greater level of detail than ever before, as achieved by the likes of H&M and American Eagle using messaging service, Kik, which also has a substantial bot store.

Nordstrom’s bot, available on both Kik and Facebook and developed in collaboration with mobile messaging company Snaps, also focuses on helping shoppers find the perfect Christmas presents.

Estée Lauder’s No. 6 Mortimer in London is even making purchases possible directly through the Facebook Messenger app. Customers can checkout using Paypal without having to go to an outside website. Mark Lapicki, director of retail innovation at The Estée Lauder Companies UK and Ireland, told WWD the pilot service was for “time-poor consumers seeking ultimate convenience, with immediate purchase and delivery of our products in as little as 60 minutes”.

While significant conversions aren’t anticipated from each of those experimenting this season – aware of the fact such interaction remains very new for consumers – this is a trend expected to carry through and make significant inroads for 2017.

This story first appeared on Forbes

Categories
business digital snippets e-commerce social media technology

Digital snippets: YNAP’s 2020 growth plans, synthetic spider silk, LVMH’s start-ups

Digital snippets - YNAP
Yoox Net-a-Porter Group

We’re back with another round-up of everything you might have missed in fashion, digital comms and technology news over the past week or so. Top of the agenda is an in-depth insight from Yoox Net-a-Porter Group on how it plans to outpace the online luxury market through 2020, while there’s also highlights from LVMH’s start-up showcase in Paris, the role synthetic spider silk might play in the future, not to mention various views from the latest Snapchat campaigns…


  • How Yoox Net-a-Porter Group plans to outpace the online luxury market through 2020 [Fashionista]

  • Synthetic spider silk could be the biggest technological advance in clothing since nylon [QZ]

  • LVMH is looking for start-ups to bring personalisation to its brands [Glossy]

  • Snapchat takes turn at couture [WWD]

  • Early reads on Snapchat lenses show success for Urban Decay and Benefit [WWD]

  • Kate Moss leads line-up of stars in new Calvin Klein campaign [The Industry]

  • Shiseido ups digital game with ‘Rouge Rouge Kiss Me’ [WWD]

  • Meet MikMak, the mobile shopping network that sells via video [WSJ]

  • Beauty and the bot: Artificial intelligence is the key to personalising aesthetic products [The Globe and Mail]

  • How software is reshaping fashion’s back end [BoF]

  • Pinterest for fashion brands: ‘It’s not there yet’ [Glossy]

  • Can new technologies thwart counterfeiters? [BoF]

  • Blippar sets ‘early 2017’ date to hit mass awareness as it tunes ad business for visual search [The Drum]
Categories
data digital snippets e-commerce social media Startups technology

Digital snippets: L’Oréal’s incubator, Bolt Threads teams with Patagonia, confessions of a social media exec

loreal-digital-600

There are lots of updates this past week on interesting textile developments – from the spider silk of Bolt Threads to Spiber, both of which have announced new deals with Patagonia and The North Face respectively. Also worth a read is the anonymous social media exec spilling secrets to Digiday, not to mention the idea that we will all indeed be buying our designer clothing in the future on Amazon. If that’s not enough, further fashion and tech news from the past fortnight spans Birchbox’s use of Facebook Live to a breakdown of how brands are using Snapchat. Read on for all…


  • L’Oréal invests in Founders Factory digital start-up incubator [BrandChannel]

  • Bolt Threads raises $50 million to brew spider silk, inks deal with Patagonia [TechCrunch]

  • Confessions of a social media exec on influencer marketing: ‘We threw too much money at them’ [Digiday]

  • People will eventually buy their designer clothing on Amazon, because they buy everything there [Quartz]

  • Everlane’s Shoe Park interactive pop-up offers self-guided shopping [Footwear News]

  • How Birchbox uses Facebook Live videos to engage consumers [Retail Dive]

  • How Frank + Oak built a modern loyalty program for men [Glossy]

  • Google DeepMind killed off a little-known fashion website [Business Insider]

  • SpaceX has hired a legendary costume designer to create their own spacesuits [Gizmodo]

  • The North Face to sell parka made out of synthetic spider silk by Japanese start-up Spiber [Bloomberg]

  • Thesis Couture is bringing the engineering savvy of rocket science to the design of the high-heeled shoe [The Atlantic]

  • The rise of robot tailors [Glossy]

  • L’Oréal created this training program to keep its marketers on the cutting edge [AdWeek]

  • How fashion and retail brands are using Snapchat [Fashionista]

  • Will the ‘sharing economy’ work for fashion? [BoF]

  • Bots, Messenger and the future of customer service [TechCrunch]

  • Condé Nast is launching a beauty network [Racked]

  • How a data scientist (who studied astrophysics) ended up in fashion [Fashionista]

  • Infographic: here’s how Gen Z girls prefer to shop and socialise online [AdWeek]

  • What is going on with fashion and zines? [Racked]

  • How online shopping is cannabilising mall stores [Associated Press]

  • REI’s ‘#OptOutside’ Black Friday campaign wins award [AdAge]
Categories
e-commerce Editor's pick mobile social media

Shopping start-up Spring launches one of first bots on Facebook Messenger

Spring_messenger_bot

Facebook announced the launch of its bot store during its F8 developer conference Tuesday, and m-commerce start-up Spring was one of the first businesses demonstrated using it.

The shopping app founded by David and Alan Tisch, is introducing what it calls a “personal shopping assistant” powered by Facebook’s new send/receive API. Already live in Messenger, it operates as a very simple conversation based on a series of multiple-choice questions, much like Sephora’s chatbot, recently launched on Kik, also does.

“Hey Rachel! What are you looking for today?” Spring asks, before providing numerous buttons to direct your responses. That conversation continues through product category, specific products, price point you’re willing to spend, and eventually, a carousel featuring five items you might want to buy. Clicking on one opens up a shoppable page to checkout from, before it sends you back to the message thread and surfaces up your receipt.

Head over to Forbes to read more about it, including the role artificial intelligence plays in building out such future natural language interactions, and the ability for personalisation at scale that it offers retailers.

Categories
e-commerce Editor's pick mobile social media

Facebook is pushing the idea of “conversational commerce” hard

everlane

 

In what will come as little of a surprise, Facebook is backing the idea of consumers being able to shop directly through messaging apps.

Speaking at Retail Week Live, Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook’s vice-president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said shoppers will be able to increasingly contact retailers and brands directly through Facebook Messenger, and use that conversation to order products instead of leaving to go to a website.

She referred to this as the next big digital retail trend, according to Drapers, and highlighted that 800 million people worldwide now use Facebook messenger and one billion use [Facebook-owned] WhatsApp.

“Six out of the top 10 apps in the world are messenger apps and it will not be long until brands are integrated into that space,” she added.

Indeed, stats released last year by Business Insider show that four of the biggest messaging apps have now met (and no doubt since overtaken) the number of people using the four biggest social media platforms.

 

Messagingvsocial

 

It’s on that basis Facebook Messenger is believed to be heavily following in the footsteps of its Chinese counterpart WeChat and aiming to become more than just a place for conversation, but for everything from banking, to travel, customer service, and yes, shopping.

It released its business offering on the platform in the US in 2015, with the likes of Everlane as launch partner.

Everlane shoppers can now receive updates about their order via FB Messenger rather than just email. For those wanting to, they can just leave it at that. For those more inclined, they can use the app to then spark up a conversation with the customer service rep on the other end of it. Given payment details are then stored, they can order anything they like through that discussion, but better yet, also receive personalised recommendations and the such like given their history is stored in that one app.

“It is instant communication and a different type of commerce. It allows shoppers to shop whenever they like,” said Mendelsohn.

At this point for Everlane, it’s reportedly still a human at the other end beyond those initial shipping updates, by the way. But the bigger part of this conversational commerce trend – a term first coined by Chris Messina, developer experience lead at Uber, in a must-read blogpost earlier this year – will be the role bots play to automate much more of that back and forth.

This is something WeChat is already heavily invested in, and others including Kik, Slack and Telegram all too. It’s also a step Facebook is rumoured to be announcing at its next developer conference in April.

As Messina wrote: “Computer-driven bots will become more human-feeling, to the point where the user can’t detect the difference, and will interact with either human agent or computer bot in roughly the same interaction paradigm.”