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e-commerce technology

Uniqlo launches digital concierge powered by Google Assistant

Uniqlo IQ
Uniqlo IQ

Uniqlo has launched Uniqlo IQ, a digital concierge service that is powered by Google Assistant and machine learning technology.

The assistant, which is currently only available in Japan, helps customers find style inspiration and recommendations by searching by occasion, items featured in magazines, and even by colour based on the user’s daily horoscope. Products are ranked hourly, meaning results vary at every interaction. Once the consumer is ready to purchase, it can do so online or receive directions to the closest Uniqlo store where their product of choice is in stock.

The Google Assistant integration allows the user to say “Uniqlo IQ” or “Uniqlo FAQ” into the Google app to begin the interaction. According to the Japanese company, this is the first time a brand is using Google Assistant to create a brand-specific solution.

“As retail moves deeper into the digital realm, shopping needs to be not just portable and perpetual but personal as well,” says Rei Inamoto, founding partner of Inamoto & Co, the agency responsible for the project’s brand and service design. “There has been a lot of talk about AI in the last few years but most use cases have been toys, not tools. Available through chat, search and even voice activation, this iteration of Uniqlo IQ is the foundation of how Uniqlo will provide customer service on a personal level not just reactively but also proactively.”

The service was initially tested in the US via Facebook Messenger, before a soft launch in October 2017, when it was available to 2,000 select users in Japan. It is now available through the Uniqlo app, Asian social media platform LINE, and Google Assistant.

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business data digital snippets e-commerce product Retail social media sustainability technology

ICYMI: Inside Target’s test store, algorithms threatening jobs, L’Occitane’s AI personalization

Target
Target

A round-up of everything you might have missed in relevant fashion, retail and tech industry news over the past week.

TOP STORIES
  • Inside Target’s top secret test store [Co.Design]
  • How algorithms are threatening fashion’s white-collar jobs [BoF]
  • L’Occitane boosts mobile conversions by 159% with AI-powered personalization [Mobile Marketing]
TECHNOLOGY
  • What blockchain can’t do [HBR]
  • Think you know how disruptive artificial intelligence is? Think again [Forbes]
  • Top Japan fashion site bets big on custom-fit fast fashion [BoF]
  • Baidu’s self-driving buses will hit Japan’s streets next year [TNW]
  • How SK-II disrupted the beauty industry in Japan with emerging technology [TheDrum]
  • Watch MIT’s blind robot run, jump, and climb stairs [TNW]
SUSTAINABILITY
  • Factory Tour: Eileen Fisher helps make the eco-fashion dream of circularity come true [Fashionista]
  • Wrangler and MyFarms talk ‘field-level’ sustainability in new report [WWD]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • 27% of apparel sales are now online [RetailDive]
  • Why virtual reality won’t revolutionize retail, but scan-and-go will [RetailDive]
  • Sophia Webster puts her spin on experiential retail with second London boutique [WWD]
  • Reporter’s notebook: A quest for experiential retail [RetailDive]
  • Walmart.com launches 3-D virtual reality tour [WWD]
  • Amazon claims it doesn’t want to take on UPS and FedEx. So why is it introducing tons of its own Amazon delivery vans? [Recode]
  • Samsung brand experience opens its doors in the heart of Paris [BrandChannel]
  • Kirsten Green’s survival guide for the ‘retail reckoning’ [BoF]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Inside Instagram’s social shopping masterclass [BoF]
  • Hilfiger’s next TommyNow runway show to touch down in Shanghai [WWD]
  • Are influencers really worth the money? [BoF]
  • Roger Federer signs $300 million sponsorship deal with Uniqlo [BoF]
PRODUCT
  • These people with disabilities have ideas for making shopping more accessible [TeenVogue]
  • Tiffany & Co. will now let you personalize with custom symbols and monograms [Town & Country]
  • What FDA approval of CBD could mean for the beauty industry [Racked]
  • Walmart pulls “Impeach 45” t-shirts after Trump supporters threaten boycott [FastCompany]
BUSINESS
  • Paris Fashion Week’s front rows speak to fashion’s complicated stance on #MeToo [TheFashionLaw]
  • Chanel’s digital strategy takes shape amid executive shuffle [BoF]
  • Subscription box market fights fatigue [AdAge]
  • How Revolve has built a billion-dollar fashion company for millennial women [Inc]
  • Fans of ModCloth and Bonobos were aghast when Walmart bought the brands. But they’re still shopping [Quartzy]
Categories
business digital snippets e-commerce product social media sustainability technology

ICYMI: Fashion themes from Davos, Bitcoin bubble, social media’s black market

The seven female co-chairs of the 2018 World Economic Forum at Davos
The seven female co-chairs of the 2018 World Economic Forum

A round-up of everything you might have missed in relevant fashion, retail and tech industry news over the past week.

TOP STORIES
  • 4 Davos themes fashion needs to watch [BoF]
  • Beyond the Bitcoin bubble [NY Times]
  • The follower factory: Inside social media’s black market [NY Times]
  • How box logos and the blockchain reveal our anxieties about an uncertain future [Ssense]
TECHNOLOGY
  • I got chipped: a dispatch from the frontier of wearable tech [Fast Company]
  • Sewing a mechanical future [RobotRabbi]
  • Inside the race to create an AI-powered virtual Elton John [Wired]
  • L’Oréal launches 3D AR hair color simulation app [FashionNetwork]
SUSTAINABILITY
  • The world’s most sustainable companies 2018 [Forbes]
  • Napapijri launches new form of digital manufacturing [FashionUnited]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Prada debuts new pop-up retail project in Macau [WWD]
  • Fashion retailers in China go cashier free using facial recognition payment [Jing Daily]
  • How customers decide whether to buy from your website [HBR]
SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Inside Balmain’s digital revolution [BoF]
  • Neiman Marcus looks to associates for social media commerce [Pymnts]
PRODUCT
  • How Nike used algorithms to help design its latest running shoe [Wired]
  • Couture that combines Japanese craftsmanship with the science of space travel [CNN]
BUSINESS
  • Richemont offers €2.7 billion for full control of Yoox Net-a-Porter [BoF]
  • Asos sales soar driven by ‘exceptional’ UK performance [Retail Week]
  • Will Hedi Slimane be a blessing or a curse for Céline? [HighSnobiety]
  • Kering, Stella McCartney in talks to end partnership [BoF]
  • Abercrombie and Fitch might actually be pulling off its comeback [Glossy]
Categories
business data digital snippets e-commerce mobile social media sustainability technology

What you missed: Gap’s AR dressing room app, smart hairbrushes, Brexit’s impact on fashion

Gap's AR dressing room app with Google
Gap’s AR dressing room app with Google

Happy New Year and welcome to 2017… may it be a fortuitous one for all of us; the industry at large included. On that note, here’s a wrap up of everything you might have missed over the holidays and this past week, from new tech at CES to lots of thoughts on what to expect in the market throughout this year.

Also worth checking out is an interview on sustainability with Kering’s François-Henri Pinault, a deep-dive on all things WeChat (seriously a must-read), and an exploration of the worker robots hitting Japan. If you haven’t seen it, don’t forget to also check out our list of the 8 tech trends that will shape fashion and luxury retail in 2017.


TOP STORIES
  • Google moves into augmented reality shopping with BMW and Gap [Bloomberg]
  • L’Oréal launches smart hairbrush at CES: a bargain at $189? [AdAge]
  • How Brexit will impact fashion in 2017 [BoF]
  • The future of fashion is mushroom leather – Kering’s François-Henri Pinault on sustainability [Bloomberg]
  • Why Alexander Wang’s Adidas collection was sold in unmarked trucks and trash bags [Co.Create]
  • Selfridges unveils new plan to promote sustainable fashion [Dazed]

BUSINESS
  • In 2017’s “new normal,” luxury brands will have to work a lot harder to sell their pricey goods [QZ]
  • For the Trumps, ‘Made in USA’ may be a tricky label to stitch [NY Times]
  • Macy’s to cut more than 10,000 jobs and close 68 stores [AP]
  • Carolina Herrera is suing Oscar de la Renta over hiring of Monse designer [Hollywood Reporter]
  • Expect more store closings despite big holiday sales [USA Today]

SOCIAL MEDIA
  • How social cash made WeChat the app for everything [Fast Company]
  • Snapchat, Facebook or Instagram: who is winning the social media shopping race? [BoF]
  • #Prada365: The brand’s new social, advertising strategy [TheFashionLaw]
  • 5 ways Snapchat Spectacles will affect influencer marketing in 2017 [AdWeek]
  • How fashion publishers are experimenting with Instagram Live [Glossy]
  • Here’s a timeline showing Instagram and Snapchat’s 2016 war over the best features [AdWeek]
  • Infographic: How millennials and baby boomers consume user-generated content [AdWeek]

RETAIL
  • Here come ‘smart stores’ with robots, interactive shelves [AP]
  • How tech drove retailer turnaround efforts in 2016 [Retail Dive]
  • Harrods incorporates in-store navigation tool in latest app update [LuxuryDaily]
  • The internet goes IRL at ModCloth’s new store [Racked]
  • What everyone will be buzzing about at NRF Retail’s BIG Show 2017 [IBM]

TECHNOLOGY
  • Japanese white-collar workers are already being replaced by artificial intelligence [QZ]
  • Amazon patent reveals its drone-deploying flying warehouse plan [Engadget]
  • Cross-border payment technology creates global opportunities [WWD]
  • Wearables gradually move beyond the wrist, and into hearts and minds (literally) [CNBC]
  • Shiseido Group invests in beauty technologies to maintain competitive edge [LuxuryDaily]
Categories
business digital snippets mobile social media Startups technology

What you missed: endangered fashion unicorns, Dior’s YouTube moves, Facebook marketplace

fashion unicorns
Fashion ‘unicorns’ have become an endangered species

This week’s round-up of relevant fashion business, digital comms and tech news neatly sums up a series of things to be tracking at present: the evolution of social media businesses into greater advertising and commercial retail opportunities, the role customer service and messaging apps play together, the explosion of all things virtual and augmented reality, and an ongoing bevy of start-ups to know about.

Meanwhile, also worth reading this week is detail on David Lauren’s promotion to the role of chief innovation officer over at Ralph Lauren, Dior’s catch up strategy on YouTube, and the growth of physical stores by online players including Warby Parker and Bonobos.


TOP STORIES
  • Fashion ‘unicorns’ have become an endangered species [BoF]
  • Dior’s borrowing Chanel’s strategies to catch up on YouTube [Glossy]
  • Mastercard launches ‘selfie pay’ [FT]

BUSINESS
  • LVMH to buy majority stake in Germany’s Rimowa for $716 million [BoF]
  • Swarovski, maker of all things bejewelled, refashions itself as a tech company [NY Times]
  • As their incomes rise, Chinese consumers are trading up and going beyond necessities [McKinsey]
  • Ralph Lauren promotes founder’s son to chief innovation officer [Bloomberg]

SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Facebook launches Marketplace for local buying and selling [Reuters]
  • For young brands, is the Instagram opportunity shrinking? [BoF]
  • Pinterest Promoted Video lands in the UK with Hunter on board as a partner [The Drum]
  • Snapchat users are spending 78 seconds on average playing Under Armour’s Cam Newton game [AdWeek]
  • An inside look at Snapchat’s new advertising API technology [AdAge]

ADVERTISING
  • Reebok adds Gigi Hadid to #PerfectNever campaign [MediaPost]
  • Farfetch inspires consumers to find the perfect product in new #TheOne campaign [Luxury Daily]
  • Google, Facebook become focus of holiday digital campaigns [MediaPost]

RETAIL
  • Warby Parker, Bonobos have big plans for physical stores [WSJ]
  • Shopify adds Facebook Messenger direct sales channel [Retail Dive]
  • Salesforce launches LiveMessage to provide customer service across messaging apps [VentureBeat]
  • Cocktails, cinemas and concierges: Malls weave a web of their own to entice customers [Financial Post]
  • Now you can sign up for a “.shopping” domain name [Apparel]
  • The Outnet launches first android app [Fashion United]

TECHNOLOGY
  • Japanese brand Anrealage hosts augmented reality fashion show [Glossy]
  • Mark Zuckerberg’s VR selfie is a bigger deal than you realise [Wired]
  • Will Google’s ‘soft and cozy’ approach to VR headsets make the space more mainstream? [AdWeek]
  • The mainstreaming of augmented reality: a brief history [HBR]

START-UPS
  • Venture capitalists invest $56 billion in start-ups so far in 2016 [Reuters]
  • New app co-created by Elon Musk’s estranged wife could be a game-changer for retail [BGR]
  • Online fashion retailer Grana raises $10M led by Alibaba’s entrepreneurship fund [TechCrunch]
Categories
business Comment data Editor's pick

5 lessons on brand creativity from Uniqlo’s John C Jay

uniqlo john c jay
John C Jay, president of brand creative for Fast Retailing

It’s relatively unique to be the former global executive creative director of an advertising agency (Wieden + Kennedy), turned president of brand creative for a major global retail group (Fast Retailing, owner of Uniqlo) – but that’s exactly what gives John C Jay, who also previously worked at Bloomingdale’s, such distinctive insight.

Speaking at the Cannes Lions International of Festivity last week, he shared some of his learnings on modern day communications in the fashion and retail space. Connecting to culture, choreographing physical spaces, launching collaborations, looking boldly to a future using data and technology, and underpinning it all with authenticity, were all referenced.

“Brands need to be worthy. We’re so busy today; there’s so much noise that no brand is going to be a part of your life if it’s not worthwhile,” was one of his key messages. Read on for the rest…


On connecting ideas to culture

“I focus not on campaigns, but connections,” Jay said with relation to finding the relevancy in local culture, or indeed current day pop culture, for any given brand he’s worked on. He emphasised how important it is to really do this properly. “Agencies are notorious for skimming the surface of culture: taking picture research of a neighborhood, sharing that in a conference room and feeling like they’ve tapped into [it],” he explained to the largely advertising crowd. “You’ve got to put the effort in and really really get to know the culture.”

On narrative spaces

This view of culture also carried over to the physical spaces a retailer owns. Jay explained how Uniqlo is turning its stores into rich playgrounds for cultural exchanges. Its latest London store has two floors dedicated to bringing the creative culture of the British capital to customers, for instance. “Agencies need to be choreographers for brands in physical spaces,” he explained in a call for the industry not just to focus on creating impacts via communications, but becoming designers of narrative in the retail environment. “This philosophy – collaboration with local communities – is more and more a part of our strategy going forward,” he added.

johnjay_uniqlo_authenticity

On valuable collaborations

“With our collaborations, we don’t choose by fame or how many hits [the individual] has, or friends they have; it’s really about values. It has to be true to them and true to us. We have to agree on what the values are. A lot of people we choose are not the most famous brands in the world,” Jay explained. Uniqlo has recently worked with graffiti artist Kaws, for instance, launching a line of t-shirts that Jay referred to as “extraordinary in terms of sales”. It has also had two very successful collections with Christophe Lemaire, former artistic director of Hermès. That partnership felt so true, Jay said, that they were “finishing each other’s sentences”. Lemaire has recently been announced as the new artistic director of Uniqlo’s R+D centre in Paris and the new Uniqlo U line, as a result.

On a tech-enabled future

Jay put any retail tech naysayers to rest with a bold statement on the importance of data and technology looking ahead. “Get on the boat or you’re never going to be a part of the future,” he said. “Data [particularly] is another way to be creative – it’s another way of finding insight. We have to adjust our mindsets to accepting there’s no foe part to it.” The new Uniqlo R+D centres will be very much dealing with technology, he added. “We’ll be looking at the issue of how to bring the physical and virtual together into one storytelling space.” A campaign run by Uniqlo in Australia called UMood, was also referenced. This neural project saw consumers wear a headset that could read their brain activity and help them choose suitable t-shirts as a result.

On authenticity at scale

Underpinning all of these lessons came authenticity. It’s this, said Jay, that has to be at the heart of everything a brand is trying to do, particularly when looking to growth. “I would argue that authenticity is the only way to scale, because brands will change and evolve, but [with authenticity] values will stay the same. It takes a lot of effort, but you just have to enjoy it.”

Categories
digital snippets e-commerce film mobile social media technology

Digital snippets: Apple Pay, Macy’s, Rakuten, John Lewis, Old Navy, social media ads

A round-up of the latest stories to know about surrounding all things fashion and tech…

ApplePay

  • The complete guide to Apple Pay, including what’s the point? [Quartz]
  • Macy’s links with Google to show mobile users what’s in stock nearby [AdAge]
  • Japan’s Rakuten e-commerce giant launches in America with fashion site [BrandChannel]
  • John Lewis eyeing Oculus Rift opportunities to unite VR and in-store experiences [The Drum]
  • Old Navy gets in on the #selfie machine [DigitalBuzzBlog]
  • Top 10 fashion films of the season [BoF]
  • Fashion brands push social media ads [WWD]
  • Inside Pinterest: the coming ad colossus that could dwarf Twitter and Facebook [Forbes]
  • Twitter to roll out its Buy button to general public in early 2015 [VentureBeat]
  • Does Oculus Rift have a future in retail? [WGSN/blogs]
  • Wonderluk’s made-to-order, 3D-printed accessories rival mass production [PSFK]
Categories
Blocks e-commerce film

Farfetch celebrates Japan launch with interactive video campaign

farfetch_japan

Online marketplace Farfetch is dutifully nodding to Japan’s Manga art form with the launch of an interactive campaign video in tribute to the fact it is now shipping to and from the country.

The move comes thanks to the introduction of Tokyo boutique Restir on the platform (Farfetch’s first Asian store), as well as the launch of the company’s Japanese language site.

Game On, as the campaign video is called, allows users to choose their player and change up their look as they ride the streets of Japan. Hyper-real versions of the country’s diverse landscape are showcased throughout, and every piece is shoppable through the addition of Restir on the site. Check out the experience via the Farfetch website, or watch the teaser below.

Restir competed against five other boutiques in Farfetch’s third-annual Superstore contest in order to join its network. It won by public vote against Mahani in Dubai, Alter in Shanghai, Merchants on Long in Cape Town, Common People in Mexico City, and Koon with a View in Seoul.

Said José Neves, CEO and founder of Farfetch: “By signing Restir we are opening up the shopping world to Japanese fashion and designers – the fashions we will now be able to bring to our customers is even more diverse and exciting. Through Restir, we are able to give access to this unique viewpoint on fashion to a global audience and in turn offer Restir a new global customer.”

Previous winners have included Voo Store in Berlin and Le Mill in Mumbai.

Categories
technology

Innovating the humble hanger: flashback from Japan

I discovered this video when writing a story about the future of shopping this week, and thought it worth resurfacing.

It’s a simple premise: the  shopper removes items from the rail and as they do so they activate content on nearby video screens. It’s not the garment that holds the sensors, but the hanger it is hung on – recognising unique details, from the fabric it is made of, to shots of models wearing it.

It was a concept from a company called teamLab in Tokyo – featured as part of an exhibition called We Are the Future, and then later in retail store Vanquish around 2010-2012.

But it’s also one you can imagine working very effectively in a luxury store today, in part similar to the connected fitting rooms we’ve seen at the likes of Burberry with RFID tagged garments, or reportedly in pilot from Microsoft and Accenture with Kohl’s. But it’s also reminiscent of the Mother’s Day campaign run by C&A Brazil two years ago, which saw hangers embedded with real-time counters for Facebook Likes.

There’s a lot to be said for the humble hanger it would seem…

teamlab_hanger4 teamlab_hanger1 teamlab2 teamlab_hanger3

Categories
digital snippets e-commerce social media technology

Digital snippets: Nike, Bloomingdale’s, Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs, Armani, Sephora

A round-up of stories from around the web surrounding all things fashion and digital over the past week:

meality

  • Holographic ad gives live demo of Nike shoes on the street [PSFK]
  • Bloomingdale’s installs body scanners to help you find jeans that fit (as pictured) [Mashable]
  • Michael Kors releases limited edition sneakers to celebrate reaching 500 million fans on Facebook [Web & Luxe]
  • Marc Jacobs to dress famous Japanese holograph, Hatsune Miku [Fashionista]
  • Armani touts brand personality in latest Frames of Life eyewear campaign [Luxury Daily]
  • How Sephora differentiates in digital [Digiday]
  • The Business of Fashion is nominated for a Webby Award [BoF]
  • This Bond No. 9 ‘digital fragrance’ is only sold via QR code [Styleite]
  • Tavi Gevinson creator of The Style Rookie is the next big media mogul [AdWeek]
  • Menswear e-tailer FreshCotton creates drug cookbook to promote Stüssy’s spring line [Campaign]
  • Fashion e-commerce flowers in the Middle East [BoF]
  • Japanese luxury market evolves to keep up with digital generation [Japan Daily Press]