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business Editor's pick product Retail technology

6 brands driving consumer engagement through customization

The availability of data and an increased purchasing power has pushed retailers to create products and services beyond the standard selection. Whilst traditionally customization was seen as a luxury feature, the democratization of fashion has led to many high street retailers offering the service as another way to engage consumers.

In today’s digital era, the abundance of data has made it easier for retailers to personalize marketing content, but this is now going one step further to individual design and styling. Consumers want products tailored to their own specific needs and style, and by offering customization, retailers can increase their value and differentiate from the competition. 

From a business perspective, offering customization can be financially rewarding too, as 1 in 5 consumers will pay a 20% premium for personalized products or services. Customization can also be a sustainable method of production, as products are created to meet the exact demand, thus minimizing the risk of excess stock. 

Meanwhile, as manufacturing processes become more sophisticated and streamlined through features like 3D printing and automation, customization is something we will see more of in the future. As we continue to watch this trend develop, here are 6 brands driving engagement  through customization.

Louis Vuitton
Louis Vuitton custom Run Away sneaker

The sneaker industry is expected to be worth $95.14billion by 2025, and Louis Vuitton is another luxury brand hoping to tap into that booming market by offering consumers customized sneakers. Consumers will have the option to customize the Run Away sneaker by changing its colour, material and stripes and for an extra personal touch, get their initials printed or hot stamped on the shoe.

Fame & Partners
Fame & Partners bridemaids dresses

Fame and Partners is a contemporary womenswear brand based in LA trying to combat overproduction in the fashion industry by offering made-to-order garments. Through their Custom Clothing studio, consumers can customize any item by choosing the silhouette, sleeve length or neckline. The brand’s strategy eliminates the need for excess stock, helping to reduce waste that would otherwise be sent to landfill. 

Function of Beauty
Function of Beauty custom hair care

This DTC beauty brand has taken over social media with its Instagrammable hair care line that target Gen Z consumers who are seeking products unique to their needs. Consumers can go online and take a quiz to determine their hair profiles, selecting up to five hair goals, ranging from color protection to curl definition. They can also choose both the scent and color of their products, creating a customized product from design to function. Each bottle is then formulated using clean ingredients, which are cruelty-free and 100% vegan.

Rapha
Rapha custom collection

Cult British brand Rapha is disrupting the cycling market by partnering with Unmade to create a customizable team collection. Customers are given the opportunity to create their own unique jersey designs, including team logos, which are then manufactured into a bespoke product. Poor user experience and long lead times are usually a set back when it comes to customization, but Unmade’s print solution allows for quick bespoke manufacturing on a smaller scale.

Puma
Puma’s new NYC flagship

To enhance customer experience in store, Puma has created an exclusive customization studio at its new flagship store in New York. Customers can customize a range of footwear and apparel using paints, patchwork, embroidery, 3D knitting, laser printing and material upcycling. The studio also collaborates with new artists on a bi-weekly basis, with Sue Tsai, BWOOD and Maria Jahnkoy being the most recent.

Levi’s
Levi’s customization patches

Levi’s brand strategy has revolved around making products your own since the original blue jean was patented in 1873. These days, many Levi’s shops have a dedicated tailor shop that can customize and repair products, such as adding patches, studs, embroidery, stencilling and distressing, so consumers can have a one-of-a-kind product. To align with its sustainability initiatives, the brand also offers a full repair service which does anything from fixing rips and holes to color fading, helping well-worn jeans gain a new lease of life.

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. The Current 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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business Campaigns e-commerce Editor's pick mobile product Retail social media technology

6 examples of brands winning on TikTok

If there’s one social media platform buzzing right now, it’s TikTok, a space that allows users to create and share short lip-sync, comedy and talent videos.  

With an audience of almost half a billion users in its two year existence, and a +237% monthly growth rate between 2017-2018, brands are now thinking about how they can tap into it. 

The platform, which is owned by Chinese tech giant Byedance, and was merged with Musical.ly in 2018, has proven wildly successful among Chinese consumers. This has since transferred to the US, with 2.6m actively users taking to the platform in February alone, placing it as the most downloaded app in the country during Q1. The loyalty of Generation Z and Millennials have been driving usage particularly, with 66% of users reportedly under the age of 30. 

While the likes of Snapchat and Instagram are being questioned – both in terms of popularity on the one hand, and functionality on the other, TikTok has swooped in to grab some of the key market share. Importantly, it’s doing so by thinking about functionality first – its recommendations are much more accurate than other social media platforms, for instance, meaning viewers get better content tailored to their interests, which spurs advocacy for the app further. It has also added the functionality of shopping by allowing brands to drive users to ecommerce-enabled microsites that open directly within the TikTok app. 

As a result, we’re seeing brands and retailers taking to TikTok to push products, increase engagement and drive loyalty among younger consumers. Here are six examples of those incorporating it into their marketing strategy today…

Hero Cosmetics
Hero Cosmetics holy grail patches

Direct-to-consumer skincare brand, Hero Cosmetics, utilized TikTok in its new ‘Get Ready with Me’ campaign, featuring 20 creators sharing their morning routines. The campaign was targeted at Gen Zers, and plugged into a #schoolsurvivivalkit hashtag to tie it to back to school essentials. The videos, which reached 4.3m users, had a 12% engagement rate compared to only 4.5% for Instagram, the brand said.

Uniqlo
Uniqlos #UTPlayYourWorld campaign

Apparel retailer Uniqlo teamed up with Tiktok as part of its #UTPlayYourWorld campaign to promote its 2019 spring/summer collection. Users were encouraged to upload videos wearing their favourite outfits from the collection and would be entered into a competition to get their video played in store. The campaign was available for those in the US, France, Japan and Taiwan and generated over 600m views on the platform.

Burberry
Burberry Fall 2019 campaign

Even luxury brands are jumping on the TikTok bandwagon to gain traction with younger consumers. Burberry challenged users to upload videos of themselves attempting to do a “TB’ hand gesture, reflecting the Thomas Burberry monogram newly instated from creative director Riccardo Tisci. 30,000 videos were uploaded to the platform, generating 57 million views for the brand.

NFL
NFL TikTok Campaign

The NFL signed a two year agreement with TikTok to post content on the platform, including highlights, sideline moments and behind the scenes clips. To celebrate the collaboration, a #WeReady hashtag challenge was created to encourage users to show their support for their favourite teams. The challenge is the beginning of the NFL’s strategy to engage younger consumers in sports, as only 41% of Gen Z reportedly watch sports on television, compared to 75% of Baby Boomers.

Ralph Lauren
Diana Silvers, the face of Ralph Lauren’s campaign

To celebrate the US Open Tennis Championships, Ralph Lauren used TikTok as its campaign platform of choice. Consumers were asked to share a time when they won a real life challenge, by using the hashtag #WinningRL. Ralph Lauren face Diana Silvers, an actress and tennis player, took part in the campaign with a series of three videos that made use of TikTok’s latest shopability widget that lets customers buy directly within the app. Users could discover the brand’s US Open collection, which featured polos, tennis skirts and shorts.

Chipotle
Chipotle’s #GuacDance challenge

To celebrate national avocado day, Chipotle launched a TikTok campaign called the #GuacDance challenge. The food chain called on its customers to upload dancing videos to express their love of the food. The campaign was the platform’s highest performing branded challenge in the US, receiving 250,000 video submissions.

How are you thinking about technology? 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. Each of the rules referenced above is matched by one of our products and services. Interested in how? Get in touch to learn more.

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Campaigns Retail

Hollister hosts Twitch live stream in-store to celebrate video game launch

Hollister is taking to live streaming video gaming platform Twitch to celebrate the launch of a new videogame in its Los Cerritos store in California tomorrow.

The teen fashion brand is inviting two Twitch streamers called Fuslie and J.D. Witherspoon, to play the new Crash™ Team Racing Nitro-Fueled (or CTR for short) video game live in-store at 5pm. The game comes from Activision, which also created popular titles such as Call of Duty.

Shoppers will be able to watch them online via Twitch or in real-life at the Los Ceritos store. A series of activations are also taking place across three Hollister locations including Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, all of which will host gaming lounges and PS4 systems connected to video screens to create a more immersive experience for customers.

The last part of the activation has Hollister influencers, including Adelaine Morin, supporting the launch of the video game by appearing at one of the three stores to host a friendly game competition and interact with shoppers.

“We’re constantly seeking opportunities to provide authentic engagement with our customers that align with their interests. We’re looking forward to bringing this unique experience to our customers,” said Michael Scheiner, SVP of marketing at Hollister. “These events will create a collaborative, inclusive group activity for all customers to connect with our brand, and each other.”

For those that can’t make it to any of the locations, Hollister will make the the CTR game available to download in an additional 100 US-based stores, as well as online.

As the boundaries between physical and digital spaces are blurring, the world of gaming is becoming increasingly important to the fashion industry. The video game Fortnite, for example, made headlines in February when 10 million people tuned in for a live stream from DJ Marshmello. Meanwhile, in April, fashion label Moschino partnered with The Sims for a digitally-inspired capsule collection.

Are you thinking innovatively enough in your brand messaging? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. Current 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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business Retail sustainability

H&M enlists Lyft for convenient fashion recycling

H&M has partnered with ride-hailing service Lyft to make it more convenient for New Yorkers to donate unwanted clothing through its Garment Collecting program. From January 22-27, the first 5,000 customers to order a Lyft using a special discount code, HMRECYCLES, will be able to grab a free ride to their nearest H&M store.

“H&M is thrilled to partner with Lyft in a joint effort to give garments a second life through H&M’s Garment Collecting program,” said Martino Pessina, president of H&M North America. “Sustainability is a part of everything we do, and we are excited this initiative will allow more New Yorkers to both learn about and get involved in the program.”

The partnership will enable both brands further drive their respective sustainability goals.

In 2018, Lyft committed to full carbon neutrality and 100% renewable energy by offsetting the carbon emission from all its rides – meaning every ride in NYC is now carbon-neutral. The service has also partnered with cities and public transit agencies across the US to launch bike and scooter schemes.

H&M, on the other hand, has been developing tools and services that aim to help the fashion industry – and its consumers – be more accountable for their actions. The Garment Collection program, which launched in 2013, has so far collected over 163m pounds of textiles globally. In order to incentivize consumers to come into their stores and donate clothing, it offers a 15% discount for future purchases.

Last year, TheCurrent Daily spoke to Anna Gedda, head of sustainability at the H&M Group, on the Innovators podcast about the company’s ambitious goals to become 100% circular by 2030.

How are you thinking about sustainability? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners for your sustainability 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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business Campaigns Editor's pick product Retail technology Uncategorized

3 media companies investing in physical retail stores

In a bid to make money beyond ad revenue while raising brand awareness, editorial companies including Buzzfeed, New York Magazine and Good Housekeeping all recently launched physical retail stores in the US.  

Merging content and commerce has long been a topic of discussion within the industry, both from how brands are thinking about their editorial voice, and – in this instance – how media businesses are monetizing their content prowess.

That’s meant all manner of e-commerce entities especially, but numerous experiments in the space have been met with mixed results. NET-A-PORTER may have nailed how to do content both online and offline, for instance, but Style.com in return flopped at the first hurdle when it shifted to a commerce model.

Others however have steamed ahead and found legs in this space balancing both angles. Marie Claire’s beauty store, Fabled, launched in 2016 and continues with a successful online and brick-and-mortar store in London.

Read on to find out how Buzzfeed, New York Magazine and Good Housekeeping are similarly thinking about physical retail experiences in order to capture consumer attention.

Buzzfeed’s Camp

Online news and media outlet Buzzfeed opened a toy shop called Camp in December. Located in the Flatiron District of New York, the space also has an experiential area that’s ready for Instagram-worthy photos. With rotating decor that changes every few months, ‘Summer camp’ is the first theme chosen for the store. Think of a “campitheater”: a sports field, a dance hall, some real bunks, a radio lab, and even s’mores ice cream sundaes by Milk Bar.

Good Housekeeping GH Popup shop
Good Housekeeping GH Popup shop

Good Housekeeping ‘s GH Lab pop-up

Good Housekeeping magazine opened a three-month pop-up at the Mall of America in Minneapolis that capitalized on the busy holiday shopping period by running until December 30. Called “GH Lab”, the store offered only one item per product category. Unlike regular retailers that sell several brands of the same item, each pick was tested and recommended by experts from the GH Institute. The shoppable showroom had more than 40 curated products, and most of them had earned the Good Housekeeping Seal, which provides buyers with a two-year limited warranty guaranteed by the magazine.

The store was cashless, with all merchandise shoppable through Amazon’s app and its SmileCode scanner. Shoppers used their smartphone’s camera to scan a code that went straight to Good Housekeeping’s Amazon seller page where they could place an order for home delivery.

The New Yorker Strategist popup
New York Magazine’s The Strategist popup

New York Magazine’s The Strategist

The Strategist, New York Magazine’s product recommendation site, also opened its first pop-up for the month of December, this time in Soho, New York. The store curated beauty brands and products, including haircare, bed sheets, and self-care products. The space also hosted events, including a beauty panel with The Cut’s beauty director Kathleen Hou, and offered workshops and free blowouts.

With so many other publishers playing in the product review and recommendation field, Camila Cho, General Manager of e-commerce for New York Media, said the pop-up was an opportunity to raise brand awareness. “Offline allows more flexibility to showcase our brand personality and how we are different,” said Cho in an interview for Fipp.

How are you thinking about interactive retail experiences? 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 Editor's pick Events product

ComplexCon: key takeaways from the streetwear mecca

Takashi Murakami at ComplexCon
Takashi Murakami at ComplexCon 2018

Now in its third year, Complexcon, a consumer-focused event targeting streetwear fanatics, took place to much expected hype last weekend in Long Beach, California.

The event, which is a spin-off of media company Complex, focused on feeding its Gen Z and Millennial community through a series of retail experiences, activations and panel discussions. Here we highlight the key takeaways of the weekend:

Retail frenzy

An adidas cube at ComplexCon
An adidas cube at ComplexCon 2018

For the consumer, the biggest goal of the two-day event was to shop, plain and simple. But for an audience that is prone to forming lines outside of stores for days before a drop, brands had to think creatively on how to create shopping experiences that blended that thrill of the chase with physical and digital tools.

Adidas was arguably the biggest name on the floor, hosting two experiences – one which involved a physical booth and another which took visitors on a wild goose chase for physical cubes that unlocked a new sneaker drop every hour. These gigantic cubes were seen throughout the venue, and on the hour, the user had to stand under the cube to scan it using the Complexcon app to unlock the ability to shop for the specific style. Unsurprisingly, Adidas fanatics were seen standing under the cube for hours before their preferred drop would take place.

Gradual product drops kept the customer engaged and most importantly, wanting to attend both days of the Con for fear of missing out. Reebok’s booth featured perspex cubes filled with fog, while timers underneath each individual plinth counted down the hours until the content inside the cube (a sneaker) was revealed.

The festival also teamed up with Frenzy, a location-based drop app, to allow consumers to shop for exclusive collabs through their phones while at the venue. The fulfilment of that experience left room for improvement, however, as shoppers could only pick up their goods four hours after purchase, a wait which for many stretched to 24 hours.

Experiential moments

HBO's The Shop
HBO’s The Shop at ComplexCon 2018

In such a noisy environment of endless queues and product drops, independent brands worked hard to stand out with booths that encouraged discovery and social sharing. Cult streetwear label Lotas, for example, chose to spend its budget not on an attractive booth, but by casting a group of The Sopranos lookalikes to play poker throughout, creating an unusual opportunity for visitors to snap and share.

The Pangaia, a global collective investigating the future of sustainable clothing, showcased its inaugural collection among a floor of empty plastic bottles, encouraging visitors to dispose of the same as they walked past. On Sunday, the collective also co-hosted a beach clean-up nearby with the support of ComplexCon.

Meanwhile beyond fashion, brands across food, automotive and media were on hand to talk about the bigger lifestyle that this community is a part of. Cadillac created a booth that showcased one of its models amid a digital jungle of screens and a photo backdrop; similar to SXSW, HBO recreated the classic barbershop experience to promote the launch of LeBron James’s new unscripted series, The Shop, featuring free haircuts and sneaker cleaning; and to promote the release of Creed II, guests could join in a VR experience, as well as watch boxing matches taking place in a life-sized ring.

Finally, McDonald’s quickly became a fan favorite as it hosted a customization station with special guests and, most importantly, free hamburgers for all.

Practical conversations

Issa Rae at ComplexCon 2018
Issa Rae at ComplexCon 2018

Conversations on the floor flip-flopped between who ‘copped’ the latest drop and what new endeavor someone may have been working on, from promoting their new podcast to monetizing their photography work. As a result, ComplexCon worked hard to promote conversations that had an underlying entrepreneurial spirit and was particularly relevant to the younger generation that is multifaceted in their goals.

“How to make it in America”, saw entrepreneur and social media star Gary Vaynerchuk talking about how to avoid the pitfalls and be part of the small percentage that does succeed in the country. Meanwhile actresses Issa Rae and Yara Shahidi, joined a conversation on females in media and how to overcome hurdles and balance public and personal life. And Louis Vuitton and Off White designer, Virgil Abloh, brought on stage three designers he believes are the next generation of fashion.

The spirit of giving visitors the tools to succeed and thrive also permeated throughout the festival booths. Entrepreneur Karen Civil was on hand at the Simple Mobile stand to offer one-to-one career advice, while the festival’s creative director, Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, worked with six relatively unknown footwear designers to reimagine his artwork on limited edition sneakers, which were being auctioned off on eBay.

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about helping you build innovative integrations and experiences. TheCurrent is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology, powered by a network of top startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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Retail technology

41% of consumers will forego brands with poor personalization, says report

Weak personalization can have a negative effect on consumers, with two in five saying they would stop buying from a brand if they perceive their ads to be unrelated or poorly targeted, according to a report by marketing platform Emarsys.

The study, which interviewed 2,000 consumers in the UK, highlights shopper’s growing demand for more personalized offers (60%), adding that only 6% of consumers currently believe they receive these.

Creating a tailored experience is therefore key, with 41% of respondents say they would shop again with a brand if the offers they received were clearly unique and personalized to them.

However, brands are struggling to scale their human-led personalization efforts, identifying the need for automation processes and artificial intelligence (AI) programs.

“The customer is expecting an experience that they want to be personalized in a speed that is impossible,” a representative for German agile-retail start-up Les

ara, told the audience at the recent Emarsys Revolution conference. He added how technology is an enabler for personalization, and how the company has been using data as a “north-star” to guide its efforts.

Also at the conference was membership-only e-commerce brand, BrandAlley, which shared how its effort to tailor its email content to previous purchasing behaviour with the help of AI, increased traffic to its site by 16%.

AI adds immense value to personalization strategies, noted Grant Coleman, VP and market director of the UK and Nordics at Emarsys: “AI tips this balance in [retailers] favor, doing all the legwork so that communication is always tailored across every channel along the purchase lifecycle, eliminating the risk of upsetting valued patrons.”

Across the industry we’re seeing a steady increase in brands focusing on personalization by deploying tools such as AI. Recently, H&M invested in Thread, a UK-based men’s styling service that uses a combination of man and machine to tailor recommended items for its users. The move shows that the Swedish group is well aware of such technology as an important catalyst for all future consumer interactions.

How are you thinking about personalization? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners for your innovation strategy. 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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Events technology

Vote for us at SXSW: Blockchain for radical transparency

Blockchain for radical transparency
Blockchain for radical transparency

In 2019, we’re returning to SXSW in Austin, Texas, in a big way… but we need your help! In addition to insight-gathering and producing exclusive events like live podcast recordings, our aim is to host three panels. But we need your vote to get us on the official schedule. Could you support us?

Our first panel is all about blockchain for radical transparency. In the post-truth era, consumers are increasingly skeptical about their relationship with brands and as a result, demanding an unprecedented level of information and access.

Beyond the buzz, blockchain is set to become one of the most important technologies required for meeting such expectations; bonding customers and brands together in the process.

But what does that really mean? We’ll be unpacking it with a group of experts, including Nina Shariati, who leads transparency and innovation at H&M Group; Feriel Zerouki, who is head of international relations and ethical initiatives at DeBeers, and Laurence Haziot, global managing director of IBM. The conversation will be led by our chief innovation officer, Rachel Arthur.

We’ll discuss how blockchain is allowing brands to future-proof their supply chains and what it takes to prepare for a landscape where transparency is the new norm.

Click to vote
Click to vote

So if you want to see this panel in Austin, please vote for us! Doing so is easy, just login or create a quick PanelPicker® account via panelpicker.sxsw.com. Then find our Blockchain for radical transparency panel here and all you have to do is click on the “Vote Up” button in the top lefthand column.

Blockchain is of growing relevance to the consumer retail industries, and one we’re following extremely closely. To get a headstart on what it’s all about, be sure to also listen to our podcast with Haziot of IBM, recorded in London recently.

Our other panels at SXSW include How streetwear turns hype into $$$ and The future of connected beauty. Please vote for them too!

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Campaigns mobile technology

Outdoor Voices pushes exclusive product via augmented reality experience at SXSW

Outdoor Voices
Outdoor Voices

A pair of virtual yoga pants hovering in the middle of a park isn’t exactly how you’d expect the future of shopping to look, but it’s certainly a unique way to push exclusive product.

Outdoor Voices, the Austin-based activewear brand, has launched an augmented reality app experience at SXSW to do just that.

Encouraging attendees at the festival, as well as local residents, to get outdoors to a local park, the initiative surfaces particular product for users based on their location. Not dissimilar to the game Pokémon Go, it means you have to be in a particular physical space in order for that virtual item to appear through the AR.

Once you then find the items, you can explore them in 360-degrees, find out more information as well as click to purchase.

The AR experience from Outdoor Voices at SXSW
The AR experience from Outdoor Voices at SXSW

“[The app] allows some individuals to really experience it and kind of see the future of retail and of our brand’s commitment to being outside and getting people away from their computer. It’s a really unique combo of how we build technology in ways that still support our brand mission and also serve all of the people that for the most part purchase online these days,” Tricia Katz, senior software engineer at Outdoor Voices, told AdWeek.

The experience is only active for two days during the festival this weekend, but future iterations of the app will reportedly see new opportunities tailored to the weather and to location.

The entire campaign is very close to one launched by Peak Performance in 2015, which saw virtual pop-up shops appearing in rural locations at sunrise and sunset. This more advanced augmented reality version from Outdoor Voices provides insight into the way digital content overlaid on the real world is moving.

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data e-commerce technology

Four quick highlights from NRF 2018

NRF 2018
NRF 2018

NRF’s Big Show hit New York once again this week with an expo floor covering every form of technology modern retailers need today*, and big topics of conversation pointing to the future of the industry.

From a topline perspective, focus was on everything from personalization through artificial intelligence, to the need for speed, enabling a frictionless experience as well as the increasing demand for invisibility in technology.

Personalization

Artificial intelligence remains one of the hot terms in the industry today – machine learning, computer vision, natural language processing and chatbots were found left, right and center across NRF. Underlying that in terms of the reason it matters, however, was a focus on personalization for customers. Neiman Marcus’ president and CEO, Karen Katz, talked to the challenge of shifting from being a retailer that nails this in store through the human-to-human experience, and now trying to replicate that in the online world. “Online is where the next level is presenting itself for [service-oriented] personalization,” she said.

Speed

Spencer Fung, CEO of Li & Fung, talked to the idea of the industry shifting from being optimized by cost, to finding competitive advantage in speed. As an industry, the time it takes to get from ideas to stores has only extended by virtue of parts of the supply chain located further and further away. “This cost optimization model in a world where consumers are moving 10x faster is no longer valid. You can no longer make decisions today on what will sell in 40-50 weeks time,” he said. The supply chain of the future, underpinned by new technology, is predicated by speed.

Invisibility

While technology is so central to the NRF scene, the discussion for retailers is increasingly around how to make this invisible for consumers. “The most relevant future innovation platforms are ones that consumers don’t see,” said Levi’s brand president James JC Curleigh. He talked to the idea of complete simplicity on the front end, all the while there’s increasing sophistication behind-the-scenes. Intel’s chief innovation officer, Stacey Shulman, agreed with this point, telling us: “Technology should never be at the forefront from a consumer perspective, it just needs to be the helper at the back. It’s what enables sales associates to get back to the customer and back to what’s important.”

Frictionless

In the context of NRF, the word “omnichannel” is an oft-overused one. This year, however, it was the idea of making retail frictionless that was bandied about more predominantly. Neiman Marcus’ Katz talked to this as being one of the organization’s greatest challenges. Calling it frictionless retail is about having greater scope for every touchpoint, she suggested. Nordstrom’s SVP of customer experience, Shea Jensen, meanwhile, told us her focus is on providing convenience; doing things in the context of continuously solving customer problems.

*Want to know which technologies we deemed most relevant from the show floor? Our team of startup scouts combed through the innovations demonstrated, examining and analyzing those of chief importance to retailers and brands today. Get in touch to find out more.