business Podcast Retail social media technology Why retail ‘experience’ is jargon

Creating retail experiences is essential for successful brick and mortar today, but it’s not a silver bullet, explains Jess Christie, chief brand officer of, on the latest episode of the Innovators podcast. 

This is a luxury retailer that opened a new physical store in London’s Mayfair last year and hosted more than 100 different events in its first 9 months. If anyone knows what it takes to pull this sort of thing off, it’s Christie. 

“I think everyone should be doing it, but I think the problem is that you can’t just say we’re all going to do experiences, and then say that means we’re going to do loads of ‘in-conversations’ and that’s what an experience is, and then be cookie cutter. You have to really challenge yourself to know what your brand is, who your customer is, and what would engage and inspire them,” she explains.  

Indeed, by not thinking like this, the word ‘experience’ in itself has become almost meaningless, Christie suggests. It’s overused and often without direction – believed by many to be the answer to saving a challenged industry. Which is why we see everything from yoga classes to floristry workshops and ball pits taking over shop windows. 

A recent study shows that one-third of chief marketing officers will dedicate up to 50% of their budgets to experiential marketing over the next five years. The winners will be those who, as suggested by Christie, don’t just think of it as a silver bullet. 

There are of course examples of this truly working in the market. Apple, Nike and Lululemon have all made a name for themselves for their approach. is now taking its strategy on tour around the world. 

Jess Christie, Chief Brand Officer at & Rachel Arthur, co-founder & chief innovation officer at Current Global

Join us for this live conversation with Christie held at a FashMash event in London as we explore her view on all things experiences, as well as what it means to think about personal shopping through the eyes of technology today, and the role content plays in connecting online and offline together.

Listen here: Entale | Spotify |  Apple Podcasts | Android Google Podcasts | Stitcher | RSS

Catch up with all of our episodes of the Innovators podcast by the Current Global here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by the Current Global, 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. 

data product Retail technology

Chanel’s new Paris flagship will test augmented retail concept


Chanel’s newly-opened flagship in Paris will serve as a testing ground for the label’s digital initiatives, aiming to create an increasingly omnichannel retail experience. 

This is part of an innovation partnership with Farfetch announced earlier this year, which will see the luxury brand develop new clienteling tools both online and in-store. Called Augmented Retail, the vision will use data and other digital capabilities to create a personalized shopping experience, according to Farfetch founder and CEO José Neves.

Speaking on the partnership in February, he said: “It is truly an honour to be partnering with Chanel to accelerate the development of technology-driven initiatives which will ensure they remain at the forefront of retail excellence and elevate the already unparalleled level of luxury experience for its clients that Chanel is renowned for.”

Among the digital features set to be rolled out over the next six months is the launch of a dedicated Chanel app, which will focus on giving its most loyal shoppers more access to the brand, as well as a more tailored shopping experience.

Beyond tech enhancements, the five-storey space has a heavy focus on its VIP customers, with the two top floors dedicated to exclusive experiences, such as enjoying private meals and even taking a shower. 

Luxury brands and retailers are increasingly dedicating shopfloor space to providing its most engaged customers with experiences that go beyond shopping. Earlier this year, online retailer opened its first physical space at a townhouse in London, featuring floors with the sole purpose of hosting events such as book signings, podcast recordings, exhibitions and exercise classes.

How are you thinking about retail innovation? 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.

e-commerce Editor's pick Retail opens experiential five-storey townhouse at Carlos Place at Carlos Place has opened its latest store at 5 Carlos Place, a prime pitch in London’s Mayfair, that takes the idea of experiential retail to the next level.

Housed in a grand five-storey townhouse, elegantly refitted to allow shopping, live events and art exhibitions, the store also features in-built recording facilities, a fully functioning kitchen and a courtyard garden.

“The house becomes a place where there’s a full experience every second of the day. Everything is built around the lifestyle of the luxury consumer,” says Ulric Jerome, CEO of the brand.

The first two floors will be open to the public, featuring retail spaces in a state of constant churn, with total product refreshments every two weeks.

Crucially, much of it will be exclusive to the store. Sometimes that will look like a full brand takeover, like a collaboration with Prada this week, bought to life by set designer Robert Storey, or the vision of specific curators. Names confirmed so far also include auction house Phillips and designers Hillier Bartley and Grace Wales Bonner.

Those floors will also stock the company’s new homewares line, delivered in monthly drops throughout the year, while the opening events programme includes a Phaidon book signing planned with Kate Moss and Mario Sorrenti, a floristry masterclass with Scarlet & Violet, and a series of talks on sustainability during London Fashion Week.

Meanwhile, upstairs are two floors dedicated to appointment-only private shopping (including 90-minute delivery for anything that’s not there already) and advice from in-house stylists, and an attic that houses the broadcasting space for the brand’s podcast, pop-up cafés and further events, including supper clubs with chefs such as Skye Gyngell. at Carlos Place at Carlos Place

All of the Carlos Place store’s events will be streamed live on the website and available thereafter, enabling anyone to tune into what’s happening. Such a move follows a test from the brand with a series of live events in 2017 when it celebrated its 30th anniversary. This saw pop-up stores featuring different experiences over five days each in Paris, San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles. The initiative reached 1.27 million people through the Facebook Live stream alone.

This also ties to the fact the brand considers itself an e-commerce company first. Today, despite having four stores and a private shopping townhouse in London, 95% of its sales are made online, 82% of which are from outside of the UK.’s latest results show revenues up 44% year-on-year to $394m, driven mostly by international growth. In September 2017, it also hit the headlines when funds advised by Apax Partners acquired a majority stake in the company, valuing it at a reported $1bn, making it one of the UK’s few unicorns (a start-up valued at more than $1bn).

While it is the online drive that is really powering forward, the business remains bullish on bricks and mortar, explains Jerome. “There’s no such thing as digital versus physical. It’s really combined. We just call it commerce. It’s just how you make it work together.”

A full version of this story appeared online and in print for Wallpaper magazine this month.

How are you thinking about retail innovation? 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.

business digital snippets e-commerce product Retail sustainability technology

ICYMI: Fashion’s woman problem, the hologram reality, Zara’s digitally-integrated store

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

  • Fashion’s woman problem [NYTimes]
  • Holograms: are they still the preserve of science fiction? [Guardian]
  • Zara opens its pioneering digitally integrated store at Westfield Stratford [TheIndustry]
  • plans to make courier robots smarter by enabling them to ‘talk’ to lifts, ascend towers [SCMP]
  • Loving the alien: Why AI will be the key to unlocking consumer affection [Forbes]
  • How to succeed at being a crypto and blockchain influencer without really trying [NewCoShift]
  • China’s government casts uncertainty on blockchain evolution [JingDaily]
  • Nike, H&M and Burberry join forces for sustainable fashion [Reuters]
  • Sephora is launching in-store beauty classes for trans people [Them]
  • Burberry is successfully steering sales into its own stores [Glossy]
  • Alibaba’s newest initiative aims to make Hong Kong a global AI hub [TechCrunch]
  • This new company is about to make fast fashion even faster [Racked]
  • How we made our own CGI influencer in 48 hours [TheCut]
  • Fabrics of the past, present and future and the best ways to wear them [ManRepeller]
  • Hue breakthrough: Scientists engineer first active, color-changing fabric [WWD]
  • MatchesFashion gets a royal wedding boost to top off bumper year [CityAM]
  • Can Walmart crack fashion? [BoF]
  • Nordstrom wants brands to embrace the ‘size spectrum’ [Glossy]
  • New Look accused of ‘fat tax’ by charging more for outfits after size 16 [Telegraph]
business digital snippets e-commerce film mobile social media technology

What you missed: AI for retail, the selfie’s influence on fashion, last mile challenge

AI is not optional for retail
AI is not optional for retail

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

  • AI is not optional for retail [VentureBeat]
  • How selfie taking has influenced fashion [Edited]
  • In global e-commerce, the race to solve the ‘last mile’ [BoF]

  • confirms closure [The Industry]
  • Matchesfashion in £600m sale talks as buyers circle [RetailWeek]
  • Alibaba uses its shopping leverage [Bloomberg]
  • Amazon’s private label business is booming thanks to device sales, expanded fashion lines [TechCrunch]

  • This influencer marketing shop created fake accounts to prove that the industry is full of ad fraud [AdWeek]

  • How the sisters behind cult clothing brand Rodarte mastered fashion and film [FastCompany]
  • Sephora is creating the world’s largest beauty forum [The Cut]
  • The all-woman agency team on Nike who ‘Just Do It’ [AdAge]

  • Nordstrom and Macy’s: A lesson in surviving the retail apocalypse [RetailDive]
  • ‘Retail isn’t dying’: How brands are competing for brick-and-mortar space [Glossy]
  • 4 things American department stores must do to survive [BoF]
  • What if stores charged admission? [BoF]

  • The virtual revolution of retail [Medium]
  • Do your customers actually want a “smart” version of your product? [HBR]