Categories
business Campaigns Editor's pick product Retail social media technology

5 brands tapping virtual storefronts to drive engagement and push conversion.

Brands are using virtual experiences in physical locations to provide shoppers with the benefit of an interactive in-person experience without needing to carry inventory.

These “invisible” or virtual storefronts – usually in the form of augmented reality content visible via smartphones – are being used to drive sales, collect data and boost branding efforts. At a time when physical retail is struggling, such mobile initiatives aren’t just eye-catching, they’re more convenient by providing curated products that can then be delivered on demand. 

To date, we’ve seen brands doing everything from collaborating with artists and social media platforms to creating personalized assortments using such virtual setups. Shoppability is key. Here’s a highlight of some of the more recent success stories…

Havaianas
Havaianas’s boardwalk virtual store

Early this summer, footwear brand Havaianas launched a virtual storefront focused on driving sales for one day only. Located on the Venice Beach boardwalk in Los Angeles, shoppers passing by a colorful mural discovered it was actually a virtual pop-up store. Snapping a photo of the designs they liked directed them to a shoppable microsite at  StepIntoSummer.com, revealing a curated style guide with various tips on what to buy. 

The concept was powered by Google’s Cloud Vision AI platform, which helped Havaianas pair merchandise with colors from the mural – a big step up from QR codes. The brand collaborated with street artist Buff Monster on the mural and featured fashion tips from stylist Tara Swennen.

Lego
Lego’s augmented reality store

To promote its first limited-edition clothing line for adults, Lego opened a pop-up shop with a twist in February: the store was entirely empty. Shoppers in London’s Soho neighbourhood arrived to find a Snapcode (a QR code for Snapchat) displayed on a pedestal. Scanning the code with their phones then surrounded them with a virtual storefront in AR. 

Customers could choose between three different types of merchandise – sweatshirts, caps and t-shirts – and view them on a Lego character. The pieces then sold through an integrated “Shop Now” feature on Snapchat, which led shoppers through to a dedicated e-commerce page that displayed the products on a real-life model, enabling them to choose their size before completing purchase.

Macy’s
Macy’s Santa Monica Pier displays

Macy’s partnered with Pinterest to display scannable Pincodes at vibrant gathering spots in the US, such as Central Park in New York and the Santa Monica Pier in LA. Scanning a code took shoppers to a Pinterest board curated with ideal summer looks for their location with links to the online store. 

Unlike most immersive retail experiences that are fixed to a specific location, or indeed online only, this campaign was designed to inspire customers with virtual catalogs that meet them where they are. 

Nike
The Nike Air Jordan III “Tinker” sold out on Snapchat

Nike is another that has been experimenting with the idea of using specific virtual spaces to release new products. In 2018 it also used Snapchat, this time to release its Air Jordan III “Tinker” for those in attendance at the NBA All-Star after-party only.

 Achieved via a partnership between Nike, Snap, Darkstore and Shopify, users could scan exclusive Snap codes to buy and receive the shoes by 10:30pm that same night. All of them sold out within 23 minutes.

Outdoor Voices
Outdoor Voices augmented reality experience

Austin-based activewear brand Outdoor Voices launched an augmented reality app experience at SXSW in 2018 that encouraged fans to get outdoors to find particular virtual products in the middle of the park. Once discovered, users could explore them in 360-degrees, find out more information as well as click to purchase.

How are you thinking about new technology? The Current Global is a transformation consultancy driving growth within fashion, luxury and retail. Our mission is to solve challenges and facilitate change. We are thinkers and builders delivering innovative solutions and experiences. Each of the rules referenced above is matched by one of our products and services. Interested in how? Get in touch to learn more.

Categories
Campaigns Editor's pick film technology

Moncler explores emotional intelligence with Sophia the Robot

Moncler - "Emotional Intelligence"
Moncler – “Emotional Intelligence”

Moncler has enlisted Sophia the Robot to launch a digital campaign exploring the relationship between man and machine.

The campaign, which was developed by the New York Times’ creative agency T Brand Studio, promotes the label’s newest collection under the Genius line, this time by Japanese designer Kei Ninomiya. In the short film, Sophia is accompanied by actress and musician Ryan Destiny in a garden, exploring the definition of friendship.

“Sophia’s presence catalyzes new questions about the future of the social zeitgeist,” reads the accompanying copy. “In a new age of art and technology, will A.I. beings — all far more advanced than Sophia — become our friends? Will they develop their own capacity for thought and free will?”

The choice of Sophia comes down to not only its realistic features, but how it was conceived in the first place: the robot has been developed to portray emotions and warmth, not too dissimilar from a real human.

Moreover, the man versus machine theme is particularly relevant to Ninomiya’s collection as its clothing merge traditional origami traditions with futuristic designs, thus converging craft and technology.

The short ad campaign is available to watch on Moncler.com and through paid advertising on Instagram Stories.

This is Moncler’s sixth iteration of the Genius line, which takes inspiration from the ‘drop’ model made popular by streetwear labels, where merchandise is released on a recurring basis, rather than the traditional seasonal retail model. In following suit, the Italian brand hopes to engage with a younger generation who has become accustomed with having faster and more differentiated access to fashion.

As for Sophia the Robot, the humanoid has quickly catapulted into pop culture for its extensive coverage across TV and print. Earlier this year, it graced the cover of UK-based Stylist magazine, which dedicated an entire issue to machines. In June, TheCurrent’s founder Liz Bacelar interviewed her on stage at Impact festival in Krakow, Poland.

This month, the Italian luxury label also launched Moncler Beyond, a wider advertising initiative highlighting 19 men and women who are “pushing the limits”, including British actor John Boyega and Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown.

Are you thinking innovatively enough in your brand messaging? 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.

Categories
data e-commerce product social media

Cannes Lions 2018: Pinterest 100 goes physical with FabFitFun trending product box

The Pinterest Box
The Pinterest Box

Pinterest has teamed up with women’s lifestyle brand, FabFitFun, to launch a product box filled with trending goods as identified in the Pinterest 100 list.

The “Pinterest Box”, revealed at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity this week, brings the biggest Pinterest items to life from across the beauty, style, wellness and food categories, all based on global data.

“At FabFitFun, we see our boxes as your favorite Pinterest board come to life and delivered to your door four times a year,” said Katie Rosen Kitchens, co-founder and editor-in-chief of FabFitFun. “We’re also a data driven company that relies heavily on consumer feedback, so the synergy with Pinterest is a no-brainer partnership for us. We combined their industry leading trend forecasting with the power of our merchandising and data science to create a box that features some amazing products that we know are going to become instant favorites.”

The Pinterest Box
The Pinterest Box

Products include a Pier 1 Imports sage vase, Tarte lifted sweatproof mascara, The Jetset Diaries passport case and luggage tag duo and more.

“Pinterest is filled with billions of ideas of what people want to do in their lives and when we look at what’s trending we can often see the next big thing,” said Vikram Bhaskaran, head of market development at Pinterest. “With our partnership with FabFitFun, we can bring these new trends across major lifestyle categories such as food, fashion and beauty to life through the box and we’re excited to see people give them all a try.”

The box is available for purchase on FabFitFun.com.

Categories
product Retail

Justin Timberlake pop-up cements the mass appeal of hipster tour merch

Justin Timberlake and Heston Preston at the pop-up
Justin Timberlake and Heston Preston at the pop-up

To promote the launch of his fifth album titled “Man of the Woods”, pop singer Justin Timberlake has hosted a NYC pop-up offering products developed through several brand collaborations.

Inside the Wooster St, Soho space, visitors encountered a hipster and nostalgically American aesthetic, similar to Timberlake’s personal style reinvention. Walls were framed with branches, while burgundy rugs and comfortable chairs lined the space. Products were then displayed against a white wall on hooks, plinths and shelves, accompanied by museum-like plaques.

Customers could only order items on display by filling out a paper form, thus giving the shopping experience a more exclusive touch.

Available to buy were one item per song in the album, which included: a Lucchese workman’s boot inspired by “Young Man”, a letter to the singer’s son; a Levi’s flannel jacket inspired by “Montana”; a Moleskine notepad inspired by “Say Something”; and a Pendleton blanket inspired by “Morning Light”.

Also on display was a Nike Air Jordan 3s collaboration with legendary Nike designer Tinker Hatfield, inspired by the fifth track, “Higher, Higher”. The shoe was first available for purchase on Nike’s SNKRS app during Timberlake’s Super Bowl LII half-time show on February 4, and it will go back on sale once the singer’s tour commences.

Adding to the momentum, the singer also worked with Heston Preston, a designer who consulted on early seasons of Kanye West’s Yeezy and has worked with the likes of Nike and Nasa, to design the tour’s apparel (such as t-shirts and hoodies).

Over the last couple of years, artists such as Jay Z, Frank Ocean and Justin Bieber have leveraged hype beast culture to stimulate similar buzz with temporary retail environments promoting their upcoming tours or album releases. Launched in 2016, Kanye West’s “Life of Pablo” album pop-ups across multiple cities elevated the artist’s merchandise to cult-like status, and ignited a much-needed refresh of artist merchandise.

Justin Timberlake’s “Man of the Woods” pop-up