Categories
e-commerce Editor's pick mobile social media

The new Levi’s chatbot aims to help shoppers find the perfect pair of jeans

The Levi's chatbot website widget by Mode.ai
The Levi’s chatbot website widget by Mode.ai

Levi’s has teamed up with tech company Mode.ai to launch a chatbot on Facebook Messenger focused on helping customers find the perfect pair of jeans.

The Levi’s Virtual Stylist, as it’s called, assists shoppers with fit, rise and stretch for its denim line, all the while aiming to reduce returns by also providing sizing recommendations.

Users can search through the entire catalogue of the brand, get inspiration by seeing the items worn by others in a section called ‘See it Styled’, then opt to either view more items like the ones they’re looking at or indeed click through to the product page. All of the results are synced with real-time inventory data, so they don’t see out of stock items.

As a plus point, the bot understands real language – meaning it parses text input to deduce exactly what the user is looking for. When I typed “Looking for white jeans for women”, for instance, it then did indeed surface white jeans for women.

What’s perhaps most interesting is that Levi’s has also worked with Mode.ai to create a separate version of the chatbot as a widget on its website. Head over to Forbes to read the full story, as well as insight from Mode.ai founder and CEO Eitan Sharon.

Categories
Editor's pick film social media

Agent Provocateur launches interactive film and WhatsApp holiday campaign

Agent Provocateur
Agent Provocateur’s new Naughty or Nice festive campaign

Agent Provocateur has launched a new campaign for the holiday season, anchored by an interactive video based on the idea of duality.

“Naughty or nice” sees two different versions of the same film captured, enabling the viewer to switch between the two by tapping their screen on a mobile, or pressing the letter “N” on desktop.

Actress Juno Temple plays the role of both personalities, one confident and knowing in a deep palette of blacks, the other more innocent and coquettish, marked by its softer shades of pink. You can see both in the video below, but head to the website to see the interactive version.

The initiative, built in collaboration with agency Cult LDN, gets a more personalised interactive boost over the coming weeks too, when Agent Provocateur launches what it’s calling the world’s first “WhatsApp Ménage à Trois”. Encouraging every women to explore her naughty or nice side, it is inviting certain shoppers, their lovers and an AP agent to have a “lusty conversation” in order to uncover their deepest desires, and wish list for the festive season.

No further detail available just yet, but it sounds like it will take advantage of the group chat function available on Whatsapp to provide a personal shopping and recommendation-based service ahead of the festive season, albeit with a little tongue-in-cheek action thrown in.

The Naughty or Nice campaign will run across the brand’s website, social media channels and stores, with each of its 120 boutiques given a ‘naughty’ or ‘nice’ theme and merchandised accordingly.


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

What you missed: Blockchain in fashion, the dark side of digital luxury, Alibaba on tech’s future

Blockchain fashion
Blockchain in use at Shanghai Fashion Week

The role Blockchain will play in the fashion industry is our top story this week after it was documented from a storytelling and verification perspective at Shanghai Fashion Week by Babyghost and VeChain. The opportunity for the fashion industry at large to look to embrace it for anti-counterfeiting and provenance is brought to mind.

Meanwhile, the ongoing struggle of luxury brands has been strongly documented this past week, from the positive effect Brexit has had on the likes of Burberry to a new report from Bain/Altagamma on what’s ahead. That sits alongside insight from Luca Solca, head of luxury goods at BNP Exane Paribas, on the strategic threats of digital to luxury brands.

Also worth reading this week are predictions for the future of technology from Alibaba’s Jack Ma and an interview with Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts on turning stores into town squares. Don’t forget to also sign up for our Snapchat Masterclass before the early bird rate ends on Oct 31.


TOP STORIES
  • Blockchain technology hit Shanghai Fashion Week [Bitcoin Magazine]
  • The dark side of digital [BoF]
  • Alibaba’s Jack Ma just predicted the next 30 years of technological change [Fortune]
  • Speed, transparency and efficiency lead Blockchain’s potential for disruption [Stores]

BUSINESS
  • If not for Brexit, Burberry would be in even bigger trouble [Quartz]
  • Luxury isn’t having a very good year [NY Times]
  • 8 experts predict the 2016 holiday shopping season [Retail Dive]
  • Is the new Style.com working? [BoF]
  • MPs unanimously back motion to strip Sir Philip Green of his knighthood [The Industry]

SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Why chat may be king of the new mobile landscape [Fast Company]
  • Fashion brand All Saints uses Instagram as a sales channel [Digiday]
  • Fendi extends life of Snapchat stories with international album [Luxury Daily]
  • Here’s how brands like Nordstrom are cashing in on Snapchat’s long-awaited API [AdWeek]
  • How Nike is beating brands like Apple and Adidas at Twitter customer care [AdWeek]

RETAIL
  • Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts on turning stores into town squares [Fortune]
  • Everlane mulling brick and mortar efforts [Retail Dive]

TECHNOLOGY
  • YOOX Net-A-Porter unveils plans for new London technology hub [Vogue]
  • Why ‘Silicon Valley Fashion Week’ is not a joke [WWD]
  • Charlotte Tilbury’s new virtual ‘magic mirror’ serves as active make-up selling tool [Forbes]
  • Shiseido partnered with Microsoft to create a make-up filter for women who telecommute [Quartz]
  • Mirror scans your face and prints the perfect make-up [PSFK]
  • Brands are testing programmatic catalogues [Glossy]

START-UPS
  • Your brilliant Kickstarter idea could be on sale in China before you’ve even finished funding it [Quartz]

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

What you missed: Snapchat’s spectacles, driving see-now buy-now sales, Cartier’s sponsored content

Snapchat spectacles
Snapchat spectacles

It might have been Milan Fashion Week, but the majority of musing worth knowing about in the digital space this past week surrounds the launch of Snapchat’s (now Snap Inc’s) new camera glasses. On top of that has been everything from whether see-now, buy-now fashion week shows are actually driving sales, the fact McQueen and Chanel top a new CoolBrands list, and why LVMH’s digital drive is taking time despite its big Apple hire. Read on for a breakdown of everything you need to know…


TOP STORIES
  • Why Snapchat’s spectacles can succeed where Google Glass failed [AdAge]
  • Are ‘see now, buy now’ shows driving sales? [BoF]
  • Neiman Marcus is encouraging brands to adopt ‘see-now, buy-now’ strategy [Fashionista]
  • Alexander McQueen and Chanel make top 20 global CoolBrands list [The Industry]
  • Inside Cartier’s sponsored content strategy [Glossy]

BUSINESS
  • LVMH’s digital drive takes time despite Apple hire [Reuters]
  • Adidas and Under Armour are challenging Nike like never before [Business Insider]
  • Tiffany proposes growth through engagement in the digital age [BrandChannel]

SOCIAL MEDIA
  • YSL Beauté reveals first ever UK Snapchat lens [The Industry]
  • Adidas claims retention on Snapchat is ‘insane’ compared to YouTube [The Drum]
  • Teens talk Instagram beauty influencers and what makes them buy [Racked]
  • Here’s how much engagement brands got from back-to-school social posts [AdWeek]
  • Google launches messaging app with chatbot [Campaign]
  • Branded emojis coming to messaging apps [WSJ]

MARKETING
  • Gap teams up with Mr Black to raise awareness for denim care [Fashion United]
  • Bobbi Brown initiates mobile makeovers with Uber [WWD]

RETAIL
  • How designer Rebecca Minkoff uses technology to create a better shopping experience [The Street]
  • BHS to launch online a month after last store closed [Guardian]
  • Zara fashions an expanded online growth strategy [BrandChannel]

TECHNOLOGY
  • The secret lab where Nike invented the power-lacing shoe of our dreams [Wired]
  • No. 21 Sends shoes that glow in the dark down the Milan Fashion Week runway [Footwear News]

START-UPS
  • Carmen Busquets, fashion e-commerce’s fairy godmother [NY Times]
  • Where is the Uber of fashion? [Forbes]
Categories
e-commerce Editor's pick social media Startups technology

Augmented reality bot brings virtual lipstick try-on to Facebook Messenger

Modiface_ augmented reality bot
The new Modiface AR chatbot on Facebook Messenger

Chatbots in the fashion and beauty space are increasingly commonplace thanks to the launch of simple bot tools on the likes of Facebook Messenger and Kik. But how about one that not only has a conversation with you about what to purchase, but can show you what said item looks like on you in real-time too?

Modiface, an augmented reality (AR) company serving the beauty industry with custom try-on apps, has integrated its simulation technology into a conversational beauty advisor on Facebook Messenger.

The AR bot enables users to discover lipsticks specifically at this stage, providing them with the ability to virtually try different options on by uploading a selfie of themselves directly into the chat. Using advanced facial tracking and simulation technology, the bot then shows them what they look like in that exact product.

Find out more via the full story on Forbes.

Categories
data digital snippets e-commerce mobile social media technology

Digital snippets: all about chatbots, Burberry’s ‘Snapcode’ products, Ralph Lauren’s connected fitting rooms

chatbots-illo-hed-2016

If there’s one story dominating tech titles at present, it’s the role of chatbots in our messaging apps. That was especially the case following Facebook’s F8 developer conference Tuesday, but is also reflected through numerous other recent stories focused on brand uptake across messaging channels. Read on for your round-up of all that, as well as other latest fashion and technology stories to know about…


  • Shopping start-up Spring launches one of first bots on Facebook Messenger [Forbes]

  • Kik launches a ‘Bot Shop’ because bot shops are the new app stores [Fortune]

  • Why brands from Barbie to Uber are so hot on chatbots [AdWeek]

  • Sephora launches chatbot on messaging app Kik [Forbes]

  • WTF is all the fuss with chatbots? [Digiday]

  • Chat bots, conversation and AI as an interface [Benedict Evans]

  • Snapchat takes on Facebook with huge new upgrade – messaging is the focus [Vanity Fair]

  • Data alone can’t decode the fashion consumer [BoF]

  • Is fashion ready for the AI revolution? [BoF]

  • Burberry first to create a ‘Snapcode’ on their products to nudge shoppers onto Snapchat Discover [The Drum]

  • Inside Ralph Lauren’s connected fitting rooms [Digiday]

  • Express leverages Snapchat with in-store checklist campaign [Mobile Commerce Daily]

  • Snapchat is ‘increasingly important’ for Asos customers [Marketing magazine]

  • Your ad here: why Grindr, Pornhub and YouPorn are fashion’s new billboards [It’s Nice That]

  • Even in a mobile world, retailers aren’t convinced social media can sell [AdWeek]

  • Facebook said to face decline in people posting personal content [AdAge]

  • Pinterest opens up Promoted Pins for UK advertisers, with John Lewis and Made.com among launch partners [The Drum]

  • Flush with tech wealth, San Francisco warms to fashion [BoF]

  • Manufacture NY and FIT partner to bring revolutionary textile innovation to New York [Manufacture NY]
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

Sephora launches chatbot on messaging app Kik

sephora_kik


Snapchat users following beauty retailer Sephora may have noticed it pushing its presence on messaging app Kik this week.

A series of videos saved to its “Story” demonstrated exactly what it is you can do on this other platform so heavily favoured by US teens. That might sound somewhat counterintuitive, but you can bet doing so managed to migrate a great number of followers accordingly.

Sephora, for reference, is strong on Snapchat. Seemingly, it’s looking like it’s figured out Kik too, and it’s doing so by using a chatbot, rather than humans to feed its communications.

Head on over to Forbes to read the full story of what it’s doing and how such moves fit in with the growth trend for “conversational commerce“.

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.”

Categories
mobile social media

Vogue started a Whatsapp group for fashion news, aka a broadcast list for its stories

whatsapp_vogue

In what seemed like a really smart move, British Vogue announced during February it was introducing a Whatsapp group.

Sound like an opportunity to be front and centre with what’s going on in the fashion industry at the drop of a hat in a group with other fashion people? As Vogue put it: “Joining our group means we’ll message you as soon as the creative director of Dior is announced, or the Chanel catwalk pictures go live, or the Oscars dresses land on the site: no more scouring Twitter or relying on tabloids for your latest fashion fix.”

Slightly punchy comments there (note both channels will definitely still be used) but, it does make an enormous amount of sense as a media entity to push the instant message route. I’ve been tracking how such closed networks can be a wonderful means for communicating directly with fans and customers on the brand and retail side – the power of Whatsapp, WeChat and Facebook Messenger means there’s growing expectation for personalised communications, the issue really is just being able to get in front of customers in the first place.

To do it on Vogue’s Whatsapp doesn’t actually mean in a “group” per se as there’s no conversation going on. Which is actually a real shame. Control worries aside (this is Vogue), being able to strike up a dialogue on the feed about whatever news is coming in seems like a far more appealing and native use of the platform.

Instead, this is about Vogue creating a broadcast list. To turn to the Whatsapp explanation: “A Broadcast List allows you to create, save and message a list of contacts instantaneously. Recipients receive your broadcast message like a regular message – directly in the individual chat. Recipients also do not know who else received the message and do not know that it was sent as part of a Broadcast List. When they respond, they only respond to you individually. In this sense, it works like the bcc (blind carbon copy) function in an email. In order for specific contacts to receive your broadcast message, they must have your phone number saved in their address books. This allows our users to control from whom they wish to receive broadcast messages. We work hard to curb spam in WhatsApp so that everyone has a positive messaging experience.”

Of course, the publicity around Vogue’s plans means it’s phone number was pushed out so creating a weighty broadcast list must have been fairly straightforward.

I finally joined it yesterday morning, and over the course of the day got three messages:

  1. “JUST IN: See every look from this morning’s Chloé AW16 show here: LINK”
  2. “JUST IN: See the Balmain #AW16 show – complete with corsets and model hair colour swaps LINK”
  3. “Introducing British Vogue’s April 2016 cover girl – Rihanna: LINK”

Note every comment comes with a link meaning it does indeed feel very much like broadcast and not so much the personable messaging tone you’d expect on Whatsapp. Considering it’s landing in my app – otherwise a very personal space – it feels out of place, cold and not very different to what you’d see on Twitter. Nonetheless, it’s an interesting move, and one that could easily be adapted over time to better suit the audience it’s targeting. If Vogue’s sensible, it has those links set up as trackable so it can at least see just how much traffic the platform is driving.

As an aside – whoever is running this channel is always online. Always. Got to imagine it’s pretty likely they’re also running their own personal Whatsapp convos on the same handset (work phone or not) as a result, which could make the endless requests to join the group pretty tedious. If you’re keen, the number is: +44 7481 340261.