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Comment Editor's pick social media

Abercrombie’s ‘Let’s Get Social’ – a classic example of an in-store sharing #fail

ABERCROMBIE_kids - LET'S GET SOCIAL

Let’s talk about photos in stores.

This past weekend, millions of shoppers (albeit fewer than in 2013) descended on their favourite shops to pick up deals tied to Black Friday. Retailers accordingly ran varied promotions, offers and campaigns in a bid to drive that traffic their way – both in store and of course equally online.

Needless to say for many of them, a drive for social sharing anchored the initiatives. If you can get your goods shared / advocated for over Instagram, Facebook and Twitter tied to timed discounts particularly, that’s deemed a pretty hefty incentive for more people to shop.

This of course goes without saying for the seasoned social media staffer…

So how’s this for a confusing in-store strategy to accompany such a move then: Abercrombie & Fitch is running a campaign for the season with the tagline “Post it. Tag it. Like it.” appearing in its store windows. A no brainer for its digitally-savvy target consumer of course – Snapchat ahoy! Online, it’s kidswear line is also promoting the idea of sharing across the usual platforms. “Let’s Get Social,” reads its website header, as pictured above.

A colleague of mine, while researching Thanksgiving weekend retail experiences, did of course opt to shoot some of said imagery in-store. She hit up the brand’s Glendale Galleria location on Saturday at noon, height of the holiday shopping weekend therefore, but was very swiftly asked to put her phone away.

Ok so fair enough, she was shooting the messaging; perhaps there’s still an argument to be had around copyright protection etc etc etc for retailers (though I actually want to argue this pretty heavily these days too given the image-driven world in which we now live), and the associates spotted her for looking more professional than social media-y.

What’s more mind-blowing though is the 13-year-old girls in the store at the same time who were asked to stop taking photos of themselves (#selfies!) when trying on a couple of hats.

The hipster sales guy, as my colleague so eloquently put it, walked over immediately and asked them to stop. He also told others of a similar age no photos at all were allowed to be taken in-store.

I witnessed the same only a couple of months ago in Gap. This time it was a guy in his 30s who was asked to stop. Admittedly he didn’t perhaps look like the type that was about to share his finds on social media, but rather ask his girlfriend’s opinion on whether or not to buy (“Darling, can I #dressnormal?). He certainly wasn’t about to take the shot of the blue jumper he was holding and frogmarch it straight to a factory in China for replication though I assure you.

I suspect in both instances this is a classic case of corporate strategy not reaching sales floor level. Understandably many tech-related things, especially for retailers with so many doors, get lost somewhere down the line. But this isn’t a matter of something substantially confusing or complex – a mere conversation with each manager should suffice.

At the end of the day, how do you expect to have a successful social media campaign and NOT allow social media in the one place you can truly call your own? Abercrombie team – suggest you call Glendale, stat.

Categories
Comment technology

Press may have pushed “tech” angle of new H&M store, but less than a week since launch, nothing seems to be working

H&M tech store, Times Square
H&M’s deserted digital catwalk in its new Times Square store

I’ve been looking forward to visiting the new H&M store in Times Square since it opened last Thursday off the back of the tech innovation it’s supposed to house. As per the headlines that ran:

I finally got there last night, but unfortunately was sorely disappointed.

Don’t get me wrong, from the moment you walk in the space feels fantastic; it’s high energy and it looks beautiful. Three floors and 42,000 square feet of great design, only enhanced by the huge volume of fluorescent signage throughout. But the technology story that’s dominated the press, well… none of it was working.

In the first instance, there are mannequins with screens in front of their faces supposed to play videos, display photos and showcase special deals. Screens that on a busy Tuesday night the week before Thanksgiving in the US, were switched off (as pictured below). All of them.

Then there’s the fitting room checkouts. Not a high tech initiative, but certainly a forward thinking one to help bust queues in a store that’s on one of the most trafficked corners of New York City – 42nd Street and Broadway. Again, closed. And the store was busy.

H&M tech store, Times Square
The blank digital screens in H&M’s new Times Square store

It was the mezzanine level with its dedicated DJ booth supposed to “spin music continuously”, and digitally-enabled runway, that I was most looking forward to. There, shoppers should be able to pose for a series of photos in pieces from the H&M line, and then see themselves displayed on one of the other LED screens around the store (there are 7,000 square feet of LED screens in total, including two 30-by-20-foot ones on the outside of the building).

As per WWD: “Shoppers choose an outfit in the nearby dressing rooms, enter their e-mail address into a computer and await the signal: ‘Walk’ on a red flashing sign. Each ‘model’ is told what time his/her image will be on view on the screens inside and out. Images sent to shoppers’ e-mail accounts can be used on social media.”

When I arrived on that level at about 5.30pm last night, there was no one to be found, not even the DJ (as the top picture shows). A lone sales associate clearing up behind the desk said she hadn’t seen anyone on the catwalk all day so she presumed they weren’t using it. I asked another on the ground floor who said she wasn’t sure but assumed they just had it turned off for the day, and another who said it was broken so she thought they weren’t able to use it. None of them were 100% confident about what was going on.

The computer next to the runway also displayed an error message regarding potential damage to its battery life if left plugged in (as pictured below). I was in the store for about an hour and nothing changed, though I didn’t overly expect it to as the story was the same on Monday night when a colleague of mine also visited.

The disappointment of all this for me is nothing to do with the fact a few glitches mean things aren’t working right now, but more that it’s such a sign of what retailers are achieving at present across the board – aiming too high and delivering too low. No wonder there’s constant push back from senior management about ROI.

There’s a huge amount happening with in-store technology, and a lot of it really exciting stuff that garners an enormous amount of press coverage, but does it really mean anything at all if it doesn’t work merely a few days after the big launch party when most of the journalists have walked away? A classic tale of smoke and mirrors.

I’ve had other experiences recently where I know something is working in a department store but it’s supposed to be a guided experience and without a sales associate on hand to demonstrate it to me I can’t participate in it. That’s essentially the same issue; an attempt at tech integration failed at the first hurdle, that being enabling the consumer to even use it.

There are a lot of arguments about the pros and cons of retail technology these days – from making it feel seamless to the shopper rather than gimmicky and unrelated to the persona of the brand, to ensuring staff are rightly trained to use and demo it – but I would argue the most important thing of all, and I think you’ll agree, is that there needs to be a commitment toward it working for longer than just on opening night.

H&M tech store, Times Square
The empty mezzanine level of H&M’s new Times Square store
H&M tech store, Times Square
H&M’s empty DJ booth in its new Times Square store
H&M tech store, Times Square
An error message on the digital runway screens of H&M’s new Times Square store
H&M tech store, Times Square
An error message on the digital runway screens of H&M’s new Times Square store
H&M tech store, Times Square
A blank digital screen in H&M’s new Times Square store
H&M tech store, Times Square
H&M’s new Times Square store
Categories
Comment technology

An inspirational note: fashion needs to take risk

Despite the significant number of start-ups there are in the fashion space today, the propensity with which the fashion industry in its more ‘traditional’ sense – its brands namely – is open to taking risk, remains very small. There’s a lot to be learnt from the tech world’s “failing fast” mentality to ultimately achieve reward.

So here’s a friendly reminder for the weekend. A touch of inspiration from poet Christopher Logue:

“Come to the edge
We might fall
Come to the edge
It’s too high!
COME TO THE EDGE!
And they came
And he pushed
And they flew”

As told by Steve Zades, creator of the Odyssey Project on Imaginative Intelligence, during a talk on the role of technology for the future of apparel at the Museum of FIT’s tech syposium in New York this week.

 

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digital snippets mobile social media Uncategorized

Digital snippets: Burberry, Donna Karan, Chanel, Oscar de la Renta, Sephora

As a final post for 2012, here’s one last round-up of stories from around the web surrounding all things fashion and digital over the past week.

We’ll be back in January, as previously mentioned with a very exciting update… Until then, happy holidays!

Donna_Karan_atelier_app

  • Square to announce payment trial with Burberry, its first luxury brand partner [TheNextWeb]
  • Donna Karan launches new celebrity dressing app (as pictured) [WWD]
  • Chanel strengthens digital brand experience via site relaunch [Luxury Daily]
  • Oscar de la Renta taps social media to recruit focus group [L2 Think Tank]
  • Sephora wins digital innovator award in prestige category [WWD]
  • The 20 biggest brand fails of 2012, featuring Harvey Nichols, Gap and La Redoute [AdWeek]
  • Fashion 2.0: amongst promises of a perfect fit, what fits and what doesn’t? [BoF]
  • Shopping sites open brick and mortar stores [NY Times]
  • Retail display plays product demo when customers select various items [PSFK]
  • How Stylistpick used personalisation to increase conversions by 33% [Econsultancy]