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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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Editor's pick Retail technology

Alibaba trials facial payments giving shoppers discounts for smiling

Alibaba's facial payment technology
Alibaba’s facial payment technology

Alibaba is trialling a ‘happiness meter’ in its new Futuremart store at its Hangzhou, China HQ, which gives shoppers discounts depending on their mood.

The feature works with the facial recognition payment technology the retail giant has been developing over the past couple of years at participating retailers.

Upon entering the store, customers must check in by both having their faces read, and scanning a QR code with their Alipay, Taobao or Tmall apps, to allow them to shop. Upon leaving, they then have their faces scanned one more time, which in turn will use the “Happy Go” feature to reward discounts for those who are smiling.

Alibaba has been making strides in developing consumer-facing facial recognition technology, famously launching its first smile-to-pay feature at a KFC restaurant in the same Chinese city in 2017.

The strategy also involves major investments in two out of the three facial recognition startups in China, all of which are valued at over $1 billion. This month, it led a $600 million investment round on SenseTime, a Hong Kong-based company whose software is used by businesses, and SNOW, a popular Snapchat-type of app that uses SenseTime to power augmented reality visuals. Its most important client however is the Chinese government, which deploys the technology in public spaces and compares ‘live’ faces against an existing database.

As noted earlier this month, Asia has leapfrogged the West in terms of technologically-enhanced retail experiences, partly due to the Asian consumer’s ease of adoption of technologies, particularly in China. In the US, Amazon Go’s just-walk-out technology was initially met with some skepticism, noted during this year’s Shoptalk by Gianna Puerini, VP of Amazon Go, who said consumers are having to learn the behavior of not having a traditional checkout experience.

As pilot concepts develop both in the East and West, it will be interesting to watch this space to see which will eventually be deployed at mass scale in order to enhance the physical experience.

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Editor's pick Retail technology

JD.com on a future where robots replace humans

Richard Liu, CEO, JD.com
Richard Liu, CEO, JD.com

“Sooner or later, our entire industry will be operated by AI and robots, not humans,” said JD.com’s CEO, Richard Liu, at the World Retail Conference in Madrid this week.

Speaking to a large audience of retail professionals, the head of China’s second-largest e-commerce company (behind the Alibaba Group), highlighted the fact he believes the future of retail is all about automation.

The Asia region is known to heavily invest in technologies that enable more personalized, seamless, and often self-directed retail experiences, as we recently highlighted on the site, making this a more natural leap for such businesses, but Liu’s views were not met by everyone worldwide.

Mango chairman Daniel Lopez disagreed on the idea of automation as inevitable, saying that humans are sociable at the core, so stores should strive to provide that element. “This is part of the experience that consumers are looking for, and by all means we shouldn’t lose that human touch,” he said. Mango has always had ‘experience’ as a central part of its DNA as a result, he explained.

In another conversation, John Lewis’ group development director, Tom Athron, delivered a warning on the same note: “Walk away from the power of the human at your peril. To assume consumers want everything to be automated or screen-based is naive, they want that in some ways, but I have a belief that humans and machines together will always be better than humans on their own, or machines on their own.”

Athron agreed, however, that some automation is necessary when labor is a retailer’s biggest cost. As the industry and technology evolves, it’s inevitable computers will be able to perform certain jobs more efficiently, he explained, making it essential to shift accordingly to an extent in order to remain competitive.

Véronique Laury, CEO of Kingfisher, which owns companies such as UK DIY retailer B&Q, says that the only benefit a physical store will have in the future is to provide emotion-led experiences, which are more often than not facilitated by humans. “That emotional connection is not completely fulfilled through digital techniques or technology. The human being side of talking to someone who understands what you are going through will be really important even in the future,” she said as she likewise dismissed the idea of purely automated or robotic-led stores.

Beyond experience, convenience and frictionless shopping was also a central theme of the conversation at the event. JD.com’s Liu also spoke about how the company is always finding opportunities to invest in logistics capabilities to serve the Chinese consumer’s evolving expectations around speed, for instance.

JD.com’s delivery service currently covers 100% of China and offers next day delivery to 90% of its 252 million customers. Liu’s goal for the next few years is to have a convenience store in every Chinese village, and the retailer is currently deploying drone technology to source and supply more remote locations until it reaches that milestone.

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Editor's pick Retail technology

Nordstrom’s new NYC menswear store is enhancing the retail experience with technology

Nordstrom
Nordstrom

Nordstrom is opening a new tech-enabled menswear store located in the heart of New York City, as part of its ongoing focus on new retail formats.

The three-floor location at 57th Street and Broadway, aims to combine an old school retail experience with cutting edge technology to provide a unique shopping experience to its customers.

It will be home to Nordstrom’s full-line of menswear, shoes and grooming supplies with a focus on streetwear. Brands that will be present in the store include high-end names like Comme des Garçons and Christian Louboutin, as well Vans and Adidas.

While shoe shines and tailoring are part of the traditional focus of the store (there are 16 tailors on staff, contributing to one of the largest network of tailors in North America, as well as five personal shoppers), there’s also a big interactive element enabled to drive both convenience and experience for shoppers.

Technology in its tailoring section for instance, includes digital screens that display an avatar of the shopper so they can try on an array of custom-made jackets.

Meanwhile, a new fully digital returns system will also be in place to assist on the customer journey. Returned items can be scanned at a digital kiosk and deposited in a bin, limiting the need for human contact throughout the process. The only other Nordstrom store to use this system is in Seattle.

The store also enhances the online shopping process by offering 24-hour collection. This means customers can order items online and collect them from the store – a Nordstrom employee will meet them at the store entrance no matter the time of day.

Nordstrom already operates two of its Nordstrom Rack discount stores in the city, but the investment will serve as a test of the future of department stores as people choose to shop online more frequently.

It also follows the launch of the retailer’s Nordstrom Local concept, a service-orientated store that doesn’t hold any inventory, and instead focuses on appointment-only services including alterations, tailoring and personal styling, as well as online collections and returns.

The store serves as a prelude to the opening of Nordstrom’s womenswear location, expected in 2019.

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Editor's pick Podcast Startups

How New Stand is reinventing convenience retail through curation

Andrew Deitchman and Liz Bacelar
Andrew Deitchman and Liz Bacelar

As consumers seek to shop and live in a way that is aligned with their digital habits, retail is feeling the pressure to transform, says Andrew Deitchman, co-founder of modern convenience retail concept New Stand.

Speaking to Liz Bacelar on the latest episode of TheCurrent Innovators podcast, he discusses the importance of offering consumers thoughtful service in both physical and digital worlds.

Listen here: Apple Podcasts | Android | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS

“In many ways when you think about what newsstands were, they were your window into the world… Today discovery obviously happens on the phone, but it also is more and more physical. We’re physical beings and we like actually going into locations and touching things, so [with New Stand] we want to be able to provide that as a distribution point for content; that content also being physical products,” he says.

Deitchman’s concept, which he co-founded with Lex Kendall in 2015, is the reinterpretation of the convenience store experience, where consumers are met with a mixture of curated products and mobile content that fits seamlessly into their busy urban lifestyles. 2017 was a big year for the New York-based company, which not only opened more stores in the city (including on public transport ferries), but expanded across the country to office buildings and airports. Beyond the store’s curated selection of food, lifestyle and design objects, it also uses the space to introduce consumers to new launches, as well as leverage its wider platform for brand partnerships.

The New Stand at Union Square, NYC
The New Stand at Union Square, NYC

At the heart of the modernized concept is the need to ‘fight’ for a share of the customer’s time, says Deitchman, by connecting with them in a meaningful way. “You need to build from a real foundation of engagement,” he says. “It’s really about using that physical footprint to build a bridge into people’s lives that hopefully is a sustained one that they’re going to enjoy.”

In the conversation, Deitchman also discusses how New Stand is a media company at its core, the importance of being considerate with the data they are collecting from consumers, and how the team is planning to further expand the business building content and selling merchandise that is increasingly localized at a micro level. “I see us as an API for human engagement,” he says, improving the consumer’s day by adding value to their personal ecosystem.

Catch up with all of our episodes of TheCurrent Innovators here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by TheCurrent, a consultancy transforming how 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 e-commerce Editor's pick mobile

Nordstrom’s new store concept will carry no inventory

Nordstrom Local
Nordstrom Local

US department store chain Nordstrom has announced it is preparing to roll out a new store concept that will tap into consumer demand for convenience and speed with a smaller and much more dedicated retail space.

Nordstrom Local stores will carry no dedicated inventory, with customers who want to shop only able to do so via Personal Stylists. In a bid to  focusing on tailored service over footprint, the space will sit at 3,000 sq. ft, compared to the average 140,000 sq. ft Nordstrom store.

“As the retail landscape continues to transform at an unprecedented pace, the one thing we know that remains constant is that customers continue to value great service, speed and convenience,” said Shea Jensen, Nordstrom’s senior vice president of customer experience, who led the Nordstrom Local initiative. “We know there are more and more demands on a customer’s time and we wanted to offer our best services in a convenient location to meet their shopping needs.”

Customers can book in appointments online, over the phone or in-person. Following one-to-one conversations, the stylists will then transfer in suitable merchandise for the respective clients to come in and try. Stores will have one styling suite and eight dressing rooms accordingly, all of them surrounding a central meeting space where customers can enjoy a drink and talk to their dedicated stylist. Other services include Alterations & Tailoring, Click & Collect and Curbside Pickup, access to Trunk Club and an on-site nail salon.

The on-site personal stylists will also be armed with the retailer’s new digital tool, Nordstrom Style Boards, which allows them to create digital boards filled with personalised fashion recommendations that customers can view on their phone and purchase directly through Nordstrom.com. Customers can also log into the app to have more extensive conversations with salespeople and stylists.

The first Nordstrom Local is set to open in Los Angeles, California, on October 3. It follows the announcement of Nordstrom’s increased Reserve & Online Try In Store service earlier this month.

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e-commerce Editor's pick technology

Uniqlo turns to tech and convenience with automated vending machine concept

Uniqlo To Go
Uniqlo To Go

Uniqlo is launching an automated shopping concept in the format of vending-inspired machines at select airports and malls in the US.

The first Uniqlo To Go, which houses the brand’s LifeWear line, was unveiled at Oakland airport today. A further nine will appear around the country in August and September.

The pop-up machines are designed to provide an on-demand experience for customers in high traffic locations, with each of them selling Uniqlo’s UltraLight down jackets and HeatTech tops. According to the brand, they represent the intersection of technology, convenience and efficiency.

Uniqlo To Go
Uniqlo To Go

Hiroshi Taki, CEO Of Uniqlo USA, said: “We are looking forward to introducing a new and easier way of shopping. Uniqlo To Go machines will carry the best of LifeWear, providing convenience to travellers looking for a warm jacket without the bulk or a versatile undershirt, all with the push of a button. Our aim is to answer the real needs of our customers through clothing, and we hope to broaden the reach of that mission through this new concept.”

Further confirmed locations include Hollywood & Highland Center in Los Angeles (August 10), Houston Airport (August 17) and Queens Center in New York (August 22), with the rest to be announced soon.

Categories
e-commerce mobile

eBay UK expects big sales next weekend

ebay-christmas
ebay.co.uk is predicting Sunday November 30 to be its busiest shopping day of the whole year.

‘Super Sunday’ as it’s been dubbed, falls of course between Black Friday and Cyber Monday – traditionally the two big days for in-store and online sales respectively in the US. Those holiday dates are becoming increasingly resonant in the UK too as retailers offer equivalent deals and savings to entice shoppers in the run up to Christmas.

eBay is predicting over seven million Brits will head to its site within 24 hours, between them purchasing 1,800 gifts per minute from a selection of over 800 million items worldwide.

Convenience is also on offer following an extended partnership deal with Argos earlier this year that now sees over 65,000 sellers on the UK site offering ‘click and collect’ as an option from any of the retailer’s 650 stores nationwide.

Tanya Lawler, VP for eBay Marketplaces in the UK commented: “This Christmas, above all, people want convenience and selection. Online and multi-channel retailers are able to offer fantastic depth within their product ranges and combine this with convenient local collection services like Click & Collect – the perfect formula for today’s time-poor holiday shopper.”

Not surprisingly, mobile access is expected to play a big part, driving 59% of (global) traffic. Peak time for that day is also expected to be between 8pm and 9pm.

Big winners will include Xbox, iPad, Bose Sound Bar, Lego and Playmobil, as already trending on the ebay.co.uk/Christmas shop. Each hour Brits are also currently purchasing everything from five teddy bears to 258 mobile phones and 318 handbags.