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business e-commerce mobile

From unorganised retail to controlled fulfilment – how Indian e-commerce is evolving

snapdeal
Snapdeal is now the third largest online marketplace in India behind Flipkart and Amazon

Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal, co-founders of Indian marketplace Snapdeal, recently sat down with the team from venture capital fund Andreessen Horowitz to discuss the e-commerce scene in their country.

Speaking on the a16z podcast (a must-listen if you don’t already), the group explored everything from inefficient supply chains to evolving digital payments. The conversation comes at a time when competition is heating up from international players like Amazon, as well as local market leader Flipkart. Snapdeal with its 300,000 different merchants selling everything from computers to women’s fashion (its most popular category), is now ranked third in the country.

Head on over to Forbes to read the full story; a breakdown of everything you need to know about the current marketplace e-commerce scene in India and the barriers being overcome.

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From the archive: How Hermès is winning with creative online content

Hermes_Ostrich_Birkin_Bag-e1408563424299

Last year’s list of the 100 most innovative companies, according to Forbes, saw French luxury brand Hermès sitting at number 13. Though it dropped to 22 in 2015, it can still be credited as a leader in creating desire coupled with mystique.

This article documenting why, and originally published in Forbes in October 2014, remains as relevant now as it was back then. Yes the elusiveness of its famous handbags is one important factor, but the part you may know less about is the way it consistently defers to creativity online.

While Burberry might be shouted about as a digital pioneer or Chanel heralded for its elegant YouTube channel, not to mention statement-worthy catwalk shows, Hermès should be regarded for the creative content it is pushing out across channels. It regularly, and always quietly, releases everything from quirky illustrated videos to pop-up e-stores that tick every box associated with the brand craftsmanship it is engaged in, setting it apart from many others in the space.

The Forbes list is determined by measuring which companies trade at a level incongruous to their underlying financials and assets, leading to an Innovation Premium (IP). Hermès set a record in 2014, reporting an operating profit of $1.69 billion with $5 billion in sales – the fastest growing business in its industry over the past six years. In fact the only others categorized as ‘luxury goods’ on the list from Forbes were Li & Fung at 41 and Luxottica Group at 51 (in 2015, Luxottica sat at 65, while Li & Fung dropped off the top 100 entirely).

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An article in the September 8, 2014 issue of Forbes magazine accompanying the list highlighted the fact Hermès doesn’t have a marketing department. “Why should it? McKinsey doesn’t have a consulting department nor does Microsoft have a software department. Marketing is Hermès’ core business,” writes author Susan Adams.

She quotes the company’s CEO, Axel Dumas (as pictured above): “Our business is about creating desire. It can be fickle because desire is fickle, but we try to have creativity to suspend the momentum.”

Taking it to that online space therefore, one such exercise in creativity in 2014 could be seen in the pop-up virtual store launched, dedicated to the brand’s silk squares, shawls, twills, scarves and stoles. Illustrated in typical Hermès style by Pierre Marie, Lamaisondescarrés.com looks like a grand house with an intricate interior and a diverse series of characters and creatures all featured. There’s a gardener floating on a hot air balloon, sunflowers twisting in the breeze, a play slide atop a large giftbox, a gentleman lying in a hammock and more.

The team behind it referred to it as “playful, welcoming, immersive and surprising”. Created in partnership with agency AKQA, it allows users to explore different rooms featuring 600 models of Hermès signature silks, all of which can be clicked to purchase.

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There’s also a link through to two of the brand’s apps – further explorations of creative content, this time with a functional edge. The first, called Silk Knots, is a how-to guide on 24 different ways to tie your scarf through images and videos. The second, the Tie Break app, is aimed at men and includes a variety of GIFs, games and comics as well as collection insights.

There’s a real sense of fun permeating Hermès’ work, and the same can be said for film. Stop motion has been a go-to for the brand for some time, from China plates playing ping-pong while handbags spectate, to pairs of shoes leapfrogging one another. Previous holiday seasons meanwhile have seen illustrated versions of its infamous orange boxes captured iceskating. Each clip is far worthier than the 20-60,000 views they’ve received (for reference, 2015’s holiday clip has been viewed over 600,000 times to current date).

Earlier in 2014 there was also a campaign starring Ballet de l’Opéra National de Paris dancer, Jérémie Bélingard. Directed by Romain Laurent, the 60-second spot – called Man on the Move – saw Bélingard walking around an “urban playground”, as he did so automatically transforming from one outfit to the next.

Like a fashionable shafeshifter, when he bumps into a lamppost, his jacket and granddad-collar shirt are replaced with a white printed shirt and green trousers; when he hits the wall with the chime of a pinball machine, the green jacket to match those trousers arrives… and so it continues.

Each piece is peppered with an eccentric, playful and quirky feel. Above is another strong example – Hermès taking its signature equestrian reference, and bringing it to life in an unexpected manner. Despite the fact that means models acting out being a horse (#jesuisuncheval is the hashtag), somehow there remains a chic French sophistication to it.

Hermès’ US CEO, Robert Chavez, is quoted in Adams’ piece: “We’ve always said we don’t take ourselves too seriously at Hermès.”

Arguably it’s this combination of creativity and light-heartedness that is making this 177-year old brand relevant in today’s digital world. A beautiful sense of humour anchors it, all the while an air of aspiration is maintained, resulting in content that is some of the best we’re seeing out there from a luxury house to date.

As the intro to the magazine article reads: “Quietly and diligently, the family behind Hermès has become one of the world’s richest, to the tune of more than $25 billion. They’ve done it by not only selling beautiful luxury items but also by selling aura as beautifully as any company on this planet.”

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Comment technology

Tommy Hilfiger’s solar-powered jacket – wearable tech in review

TommyHilfiger_solarjacket_rachelarthur

While other brands in the fashion and retail space are aligning themselves with devices that measure physical activity or provide communication from your wrist, Tommy Hilfiger’s first foray into the wearable tech world comes in the form of two solar-powered jackets released for the holiday 2014 season.

Designed for both men and women, the limited-edition styles charge electronic devices like your smartphone or tablet by converting energy from a series of removable solar panels attached to their backs.

As you can see from the images above, I tried one out. Check out my full thoughts on it over at Forbes.com.

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business Comment Editor's pick social media

How Hermès is winning with creative online content

Hermes

This year’s list of the 100 most innovative companies, according to Forbes, sees French luxury brand Hermès sitting at number 13. The list is determined by measuring which companies trade at a level incongruous to their underlying financials and assets, leading to an Innovation Premium (IP).

Hermès set a record last year, reporting an operating profit of $1.69 billion with $5 billion in sales – the fastest growing business in its industry over the past six years. In fact the only others categorised as ‘luxury goods’ on the list from Forbes are Li & Fung at 41 and Luxottica Group at 51.

Unlike a great number of its counterparts, Hermès has created desire coupled with mystique that even in today’s digital age it has managed to maintain. Doing so can be attributed to much more than just the elusiveness of its famous handbags however, and one such way is the creativity it defers to online.

While Burberry might be shouted about as a digital pioneer or Chanel heralded for its elegant YouTube channel, not to mention statement-worthy catwalk shows, Hermès should be regarded for the creative content it is pushing out across channels. It regularly, and always quietly, releases everything from quirky illustrated videos to pop-up e-stores that tick every box associated with the brand craftsmanship it is engaged in, setting it apart from many others in the space.

An article in the September 8, 2014 issue of Forbes magazine accompanying the list highlighted the fact Hermès doesn’t have a marketing department. “Why should it? McKinsey doesn’t have a consulting department nor does Microsoft have a software department. Marketing is Hermès’ core business,” writes author Susan Adams.

She quotes the company’s CEO, Axel Dumas: “Our business is about creating desire. It can be fickle because desire is fickle, but we try to have creativity to suspend the momentum.”

Read the full story via Forbes where several examples of such creativity in action can be seen. Here’s a sneak preview…