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data e-commerce technology

The simple ways Topman is thinking about a personalised customer experience

Topman's student prices toggle on its homepage
Topman’s student prices toggle on its homepage

Topman’s global digital director, Gareth Rees-John, took to the stage at Shoptalk Europe this week with a welcome reminder of the things it’s possible to do without huge budgets.

He noted how many retailers are still operating on legacy systems with “jumbled data” making it hard to move forward fast, and said his focus is on “making little changes that have robust business cases”.

The key, he said, is about doing things the retail board will understand – referring to Sir Phillip Green as an owner that is becoming increasingly tech savvy but still at his roots a traditional shopkeeper – and said it’s about nudging people along.

He highlighted three simple ways his team is personalising the e-commerce experience for shoppers in order to help drive conversions.

The first is dedicated to students. A simple switch at the top of the website, facilitated by SaaS company Qubit, enables users to toggle all products to student prices – a 10% discount. “Normally we see 38% of spend on the website is with students, when we do this then we see 50%, so it’s huge – just by taking the friction out,” Rees-John explained.

The second he said is about personalising the website based on geography. “We see trends in the data as to what people are buying and where. Sterotypically, for instance, we don’t sell as many coats in [the northern city of] Newcastle – it’s all lads in short sleeve shirts – compared to in the south-east.” So the website is set up to over-show on categories where they do sell.

The last pulls in artificial intelligence: Canadian company Granify helps optimise Topman’s conversion rates by serving different messages to shoppers when they are at flight risk. The notifications use machine learning to address issues that will help retain the individual in question, such as letting them know an item is low in stock, as one example. It’s seeing an uplift of 3-5% in doing so.

Long-term Rees-John is looking to streamline the creative process for personalised content. “One of the biggest barriers to personalisation is the creative output – dynamic ads have their limits and if you have multiple segments then you need multiples of artwork. Our view is by the end of the year to have six different modules on the homepage and every person will see them in different orders but only see three at one time.”

The result will equal 720 different permutations of the website. “It isn’t a big data exchange it’s just a different experience of the brand going forward,” he said.

Categories
e-commerce mobile social media

Yoox Net-a-Porter Group tests notifications as one of Whatsapp’s first business partners

Yoox Net-a-Porter Group is testing Whatsapp's new business features
Yoox Net-a-Porter Group is testing Whatsapp’s new business features

Yoox Net-a-Porter Group is living up to its promise of Whatsapp as a key channel for customer service, teaming up with the messaging app as one of its first business partners.

The luxury e-commerce company has previously highlighted that its mobile shoppers place more than double the orders of desktop users, making it particularly clear why it would look to further engage them. It will work with Facebook-owned Whatsapp, which has over one billion daily users, to test various features, including enhanced notifications.

In a blogpost about the “conversational commerce” launch, Gabriele Tazzari, director of research and development at the group, said the personal shopping team has already been using Whatsapp to service the company’s highest value customers – its EIPs, or extremely important people. They have been experimenting with using existing functions like status updates to share pictures of new items and ultimately push towards transactions.

“To date we have made countless sales across Whatsapp, even selling a single item for over £80,000,” he explains, noting how shoppers have highlighted a preference for messaging rather than emails.

As part of the new test programme, the group has now integrated its Order Management System (OMS) with Whatsapp by using its new Enterprise solution. This allows the company to additionally use the messaging service as a notification system for order and shipping confirmations. It is doing so as a test with Yoox in Belgium initially, where it’s so far seen less than 3% of users ask to unsubscribe from the service.

“In the future, we hope to engage customers with our business via the app, giving every single user an immediate and personal service, whether it is an automated notification or real-time customer care or personal shopping services,” Tazzari adds.

Further features that Whatsapp is rolling out include verification badges, messages that can’t be deleted and different colour messages.

The news follows Facebook Messenger’s move into conversational commerce with the growth of its chatbot services. The likes of Everlane, Sephora, Burberry and more recently Levi’s, have been using it as both a content-sharing and customer service tool. Payments are also possible, hinting at what could be rolled out to Whatsapp down the line.

This story first appeared on Forbes

Categories
e-commerce mobile social media

Vince Camuto launches iOS sticker app

Vince Camuto's iOS stickers
Vince Camuto’s iOS stickers

Vince Camuto is the latest fashion brand to release a range of stickers for the iPhone, with emoticons of everything from shoes to handbags available.

The aim, according to the accessories business, is to “enliven conversations and encourage sharing” between its customers, who it refers to as constantly online and on the move with their mobile devices, as well as showing preference for image-based text messaging. It also nods to the fact the majority of its e-commerce traffic now arrives via mobile.

“Customers enjoy the playful, spontaneous way visual content lets them share personal style,” the brand’s press release reads. The stickers accordingly come with captions attached including “outfit of the day”, “epic” and “nailed it!”

There are 50 stickers in total spanning shoes, handbags, clothing and fragrances for men and women. Seasonal upgrades are also expected.

Vince Camuto is following in the footsteps of multiple other fashion brands that have released their own stickers, including the likes of JW Anderson, Coach and Primark.

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business digital snippets e-commerce product social media Startups sustainability technology

What you missed: Wang’s text-to-buy line, Stitch Fix to IPO, activism from outdoor brands

The Adidas Originals by Alexander Wang line launched via text message
The Adidas Originals by Alexander Wang line launched via text message

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


TOP STORIES
  • The second Adidas Originals by Alexander Wang line launches via text-to-buy event [Racked]
  • Stitch Fix has filed confidentially for an IPO [Recode]
  • A call to activism for outdoor apparel makers [NY Times]
  • How Reebok, Adidas and Y-3 will dress future space explorers [Fast Company]

BUSINESS
  • Jimmy Choo bought by Michael Kors in £896m deal [BBC]
  • MatchesFashion.com could enter stock market [Fashion United]
  • Bangladesh to digitally map all garment factories [JustStyle]
  • Fashion must fight the scourge of dumped clothing clogging landfills [Guardian]

SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Vogue takes ‘hub and spoke’ approach to Snapchat editions in Europe [Digiday]

MARKETING
  • Why Helmut Lang hired an editor-in-residence in place of a creative director [Glossy]
  • Amazon and Nicopanda launch LFW ‘see now, buy now’ range [Retail Gazette]

RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • China’s store of the future has no checkout, no cash and no staff [BoF]
  • Saint Laurent to launch online sales in China [WSJ]
  • You will soon be able to search eBay using a photo or social media web link [CNBC]
  • MatchesFashion.com’s Tom Chapman: Amazon’s missing the ‘magic’ of high-end fashion [Glossy]

TECHNOLOGY
  • Walmart is developing a robot that identifies unhappy shoppers [Business Insider]
  • For the first time ever, you can buy your own 3D-printed garment online [Fashionista]
  • MIT’s living jewellery is made up of small robot assistants [TechCrunch]
  • Intel axed its entire smartwatch and fitness-tracker group to focus on augmented reality, sources say [CNBC]

START-UPS
  • John Lewis unveils retail tech start-ups for JLAB 2017 [The Industry]
  • Spider silk start-up spins into retail by buying an apparel company [Fortune]
Categories
mobile social media

Six tips for nailing your chatbot content strategy as a competitive advantage for the future

Burberry's Facebook Messenger chatbot
Burberry’s Facebook Messenger chatbot

Chatbots have received somewhat of a mixed response since they hit the market at scale – both praised for the ease with which they can offer customer service for instance, yet critiqued for their lack of true intelligence.

This is something we’re working towards, according to Ben Parr, co-founder of chatbot building platform Octane AI, who spoke at Lions Innovation, a division of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, last week. “The technology for bots that are truly intelligent and personalised based on AI is just not there yet to be totally reliable 100% of the time, but in the future, as the tech evolves and improves, they will be,” he explained.

In the meantime, what’s important is to create an experience that is repeatable and reliable, he urged. Building an audience through such platforms now enables brands to be at the forefront of this space once we are there, he added, making it a competitive advantage for the future.

Head over to Forbes to read the six tips he gave for how to nail your chatbot content strategy on that basis.

Categories
business data digital snippets e-commerce product social media technology

What you missed: SXSW special, see-now-buy-now’s decline, LVMH’s e-commerce moves, Gucci’s memes

The #TFWGucci meme campaign - weekly round-up Gucci LVMH SXSW
The #TFWGucci meme campaign

There’s a lot to catch up on from the past fortnight – from news of the see-now-buy-now revolution’s fading, to LVMH’s e-commerce plans and Gucci’s meme campaign, not to mention the creative director shifts happening at the likes of Givenchy and Chloé.

On top of that however, is also a special digest of everything you need to know from SXSW – from our own round-up of the top technologies on show and the numerous Levi’s, Marc Jacobs and Bolt Threads announcements, through to varying views on areas including chatbots, drones and more.

If that’s not enough, do also take time to read the much deeper dives on artificial intelligence we’ve highlighted both under the top stories and tech headers too.


TOP STORIES
  • The see-now-buy-now revolution is fizzling [Glossy]
  • LVMH goes digital with all its brands under one luxury goods e-commerce site [FT]
  • #TFWGucci is the new viral campaign merging memes and fashion [Sleek]
  • WWD worked with IBM Watson’s AI to predict the biggest trends of the season [WWD]
  • Why Cosabella replaced its agency with AI and will never go back to humans [Campaign]

SXSW SPECIAL
  • SXSW 2017: Tech takeaways from AI to blockchain for the fashion and retail industries [F&M]
  • Trying on the Levi’s and Google smart jacket at SXSW feels like the future [Forbes]
  • Why Marc Jacobs’ cynical view of fashion and technology at SXSW won’t last [Forbes]
  • Bolt Threads is launching its first bioengineered spider silk product at SXSW – a tie [Forbes]
  • My afternoon at the virtual reality cinema, including trying the Spatium Philip Treacy experience [USA Today]
  • For fashion brands flocking to SXSW, what’s the ROI? [BoF]
  • Spotify lets The North Face release campaign where it rains [BrandChannel]
  • How may AI help you, sir? [Campaign]
  • 4 best practices to make bots the next big user interface [AdAge]
  • Amazon’s delivery drones can be seen at SXSW [Fortune]
  • Fashion and beauty brands are still gaga for Instagram [Glossy]
  • Armani, Neiman Marcus embrace SXSW to appeal to young affluents [Luxury Daily]
  • Neiman Marcus tries see-now-buy-now at SXSW [WWD]
  • Pauline van Dongen’s touch-sensitive denim jacket gives intimate back rubs [Dezeen]

BUSINESS
  • Neiman Marcus reportedly in talks to sell to Hudson’s Bay [Retail Dive]
  • Canada Goose gets a warm reception, extending momentum of IPO market [USA Today]
  • Clare Waight Keller becomes the first female artistic director at Givenchy [The Guardian]
  • Chloé names Natacha Ramsay-Levi as creative director [NY Times]
  • Tom Ford bids farewell to see-now-buy-now [WWD]
  • Thakoon’s business restructuring is a blow to see-now-buy-now [Glossy]
  • M&S, Starbucks, Microsoft and L’Oréal named among world’s most ethical companies [Campaign]
  • Uniqlo thinks faster fashion can help it beat Zara [Bloomberg]
  • One simple way to empower women making H&M clothes in Bangladesh: Stop paying them in cash [Quartz]

SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Facebook rolls out version of Instagram Stories for Messenger [AdWeek]
  • How brands are innovating on messaging platforms [L2]
  • What a chatbot can teach you – and Unilever – about hair [AdAge]
  • Drop it like its bot: Brands have cooled on chatbots [Digiday]
  • How luxury fashion brands in China use WeChat in 2017 [JingDaily]

MARKETING
  • Marques’Almeida launched an interactive website as its latest campaign [BoF]

RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Shopify: The invisible selling machine [Fortune]
  • Millennials buy more clothes on Amazon than any other website [Recode]
  • LIKEtoKNOW.it’s app helps you buy the products in your screenshots [TechCrunch]

TECHNOLOGY
  • How AI will make commerce as natural as talking to a friend [LinkedIn]
  • Stitch Fix creates garments using artificial intelligence as more firms seek to develop creative software [WSJ]
  • AI-powered customer service needs the human touch [Huffington Post]
  • Rethinking warehouse fulfillment — with robots [WWD]
  • Sephora is betting big on augmented reality for beauty [Glossy]
  • Walmart launches tech incubator dubbed Store No. 8 [Forbes]
Categories
e-commerce Editor's pick mobile social media

Yoox Net-a-Porter is pushing Whatsapp as a sales channel

Yoox Net-a-Porter is exploring Whatsapp as a mobile sales channel (Image via Net-a-Porter #MFW street style)
Yoox Net-a-Porter is exploring Whatsapp as a mobile sales channel (Image via Net-a-Porter #MFW street style)

Luxury e-commerce group Yoox Net-a-Porter is working on an initiative that will allow customers to buy products directly through Facebook-owned messaging service, Whatsapp.

The company already sees its personal shoppers using the app to communicate with its most valuable clients, and its plan is to expand that usage, according to CEO Federico Marchetti.

Some 40% of its higher-margin in-season revenue comes from just 2% of its customers, which it calls its EIPs, or extremely important people, he explained to Bloomberg. The company also knows its mobile shoppers place more than double the orders of desktop users.

“We’ve made some of our biggest sales to EIPs by chatting to them through WhatsApp,” Marchetti said.

Whatsapp currently has a reported 1.2 billion monthly active users, up from over 700 million in January 2015. It’s one of the most popular messaging service worldwide, but being a closed network, has not been an easy one for brands to utilise.

While the likes of Vogue launched a short-lived group chat (or broadcasting service) on the app in 2016, most other instances, including a campaign from Agent Provocateur for the holiday season, have been focused on individual communications.

Vogue started a short-lived Whatsapp group chat in 2016
Vogue started a short-lived Whatsapp group chat in 2016

This sits alongside the likes of WeChat in China by comparison, where payments are already integrated and many users have their bank accounts linked to the service. Luxury brands in this space are still new to the idea of selling directly, with just a fraction of them offering it according to research firm L2, but there’s scope there for uptake.

At this point, YNAP says it is still testing its plans for Whatsapp and has no scheduled release date. Marchetti declined to give details on how payments might work on the platform, but stored client details might be the simplest method without a significant technology development. In other words, manually ringing up e-commerce via existing accounts as an option following the clienteling side of the private personal shopper conversations on the app.

There are also learnings already out there from other businesses. In the US, Nordstrom for instance launched a service called TextStyle that allowed customer to buy directly from sales associates via messaging, simply by replying “buy” and entering a unique code. The purchase is completed using the customer’s Nordstrom.com account information.

Meanwhile, we’ve also started to see the move to e-commerce within platforms like Facebook Messenger off the back of the growth of chatbot services. The likes of Everlane, Sephora, Burberry and others have been using it as both a content-sharing and customer service tool. Payments are also possible, hinting at what could be rolled out to Whatsapp down the line.

That said, Everlane recently announced it is pulling back from using the platform as a notification option, returning instead to email. When the partnership first started in 2015, CEO Michael Preysman said: “Over time we think this will become a way to not only build stronger relationships with customers, but to ultimately drive demand and new purchases.” It looks like that may not have happened, Recode reports.

Categories
business data digital snippets e-commerce film social media Startups technology

What you missed: debating tech at retail, the role of AI in fashion, Massenet joins Farfetch

Natalie Massenet announced her move to Farfetch as co-chairman
Natalie Massenet announced her move to Farfetch as co-chairman

All eyes might have been on the Milan collections, but the big business news this week is back in London where Natalie Massenet announced her move to Farfetch as co-chairman. An Instagram Story featuring Massenet with José Neves answering a Q&A followed – do watch it via @Farfetch before it disappears.

Otherwise, some interesting stories this week debating retail tech – what consumers do and don’t want on the one hand, versus why the industry hasn’t adopted artificial intelligence faster, on the other. Both are worth digging in to and digesting. Beyond that, there are new campaigns from Calvin Klein and Converse, as well as a scathing (but amusing) piece over on Digiday about just why fashion advertising is all out of (terrible) ideas. And if you’re still not sure about your video strategy, you might want to pay attention to the fact YouTube users now watch one billion hours per day.


TOP STORIES
  • Consumers don’t want Amazon or Google to help them shop [Bloomberg]
  • AI can make us all dress better, so why isn’t the fashion industry using it more? [Fast Company]
  • How Neiman Marcus is turning technology innovation into a ‘core value’ [Retail Dive]
  • Tommy Hilfiger looks to technology as it combats Macy’s decline [Bloomberg]
  • The trouble with all those t-shirt slogans about diversity on fashion’s runways [Quartz]

BUSINESS
  • Natalie Massenet joins Farfetch as co-chairman [BoF]
  • How teen retailer Aerie is thriving while its competitors flounder [CNBC]
  • Céline names new CEO, joins Instagram, announces plans to launch e-commerce [The Fashion Law]
  • John Lewis to cut hundreds of jobs [Campaign]
  • Menswear e-commerce startup JackThreads hanging by a thread [Retail Dive]

SOCIAL MEDIA
  • People now watch one billion hours of YouTube per day [TechCrunch]
  • Instagram users can now share up to 10 photos and videos in a single post [AdWeek]

MARKETING
  • Fashion advertising is out of ideas [Digiday]
  • Calvin Klein debuts new campaign featuring the men of Moonlight the morning after the Oscars [AdWeek]
  • #ForeverChuck: Converse throws a party as Chuck Taylor turns 100 [BrandChannel]
  • Did Walmart’s high-concept short films on the Oscars work? [AdWeek]
  • Why data targeting was a natural fit for cotton marketers [AdAge]

RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • The future of shopping is more discrimination [The Atlantic]
  • Ebay is tapping into the under-24 demographic by partnering with Snupps [Fashionista]

TECHNOLOGY
  • Retailers invest in chatbots, but consumers remain ambivalent [BrandChannel]
  • Why chatbots are dangerous territory for retailers [Forbes]
  • Why payment companies are flocking to messaging apps [Fast Company]
  • Your clothes could soon create and store their own electricity [Wired]
  • Grow your own clothes: three concepts for the fashion for the future [DW]

START-UPS
  • VC Eurie Kim: ‘Most fashion businesses don’t make good investments’ [Glossy]
Categories
mobile social media

British Vogue launches chatbot on Facebook Messenger at London Fashion Week

British Vogue, March 2017 issue
British Vogue, March 2017 issue

British Vogue has made its first foray into the AI space via a chatbot on Facebook Messenger that allows users to personalise their fashion news.

“Vogue Fashion Update”, as it’s called, was launched to coincide with the start of London Fashion Week, enabling users to catch up on all the latest shows and their favourite designers.

Alexandra Shulman, editor-in-chief of British Vogue commented: “This is a new method for us to be able to talk directly and immediately to the huge Vogue audience, who rely on us to provide inspiring and authoritative fashion news.”

On joining a chat, users are first given options as to what information they receive, including daily alerts on top stories, up-to-date runway news during the show season, or more tailored content based on specific designers of interest.

Vogue Messenger chatBot

The bot will evolve over time, with future updates set to provide further personalisation and interaction, the Condé Nast International digital team behind it explained in a press release.

Their view is on taking away the need to compete with a scrolling newsfeed and instead deliver content directly to the subscriber for a distinctly more personal interaction.

Cantlin Ashrowan, Condé Nast International’s director of product, said: “We are always seeking to engage with our audiences in new and innovative ways. Today marks the latest step in British Vogue’s long history of innovation in fashion journalism.”

More specifically, it also follows British Vogue’s attempts to run a Whatsapp group (which was really just a broadcast list) for similar reasons. This started out as an instant message update every time there was any relevant fashion news – and fairly frequently – but closed down within a month or so with no word as to why. One can only assume the manpower behind it didn’t make sense for the team (in terms of returns), comparative to this automated version using Facebook’s bot store.

Categories
mobile social media

Primark releases emoji keyboard for all your Christmas messaging needs

The festive Primark Keyboard app
The festive Primark Keyboard app

Primark has unveiled its own “Keyboard” for the festive period featuring a multitude of Christmas-themed emojis including novelty jumpers, gingerbread men, a pug and a shopping bag bursting with presents.

Available for iOS and Android, the app enables users to insert the icons directly into any iMessage/MMS or Facebook message. Also available are fun animated GIFs including sparkling Christmas trees and glittery party dresses.

The launch comes following iOS 10’s new themed stickers in its Messages apps. Within an iMessage on an iPhone or iPad for instance, users can click on the ‘Store’ button to download a variety of different packs. Primark is one of the first retailers to offer one. H&M also did it for the launch of its Kenzo collection, while other brands including Starbucks, Super Mario and the Mr Men line have versions too.

The festive Primark Keyboard app
The festive Primark Keyboard app

Olly Rzysko, head of digital comms, at the retailer, commented: “Christmas is the time for giving and we wanted to give our fans the opportunity to make their messages much more festive in 2016. It’s simple, it’s easy, and it’s free and really captures the emotion and fun that surrounds the most wonderful time of the year.”

The Keyboard was created by messaging agency Snaps, which has also worked with brands including Coach, Macy’s and Dove. Snaps’ CEO, Christian Brucculeri, said: “We’re thrilled to support Primark’s entry into the mobile messaging market with their holiday-focused keyboard. With this launch, Primark is taking its first steps into consistently being in the consumer conversation on messaging apps like iMessage, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. At Snaps’ we’ve shown that consumers sharing of brand emojis, stickers and other related content drives an increase in awareness, brand favourability and purchase intent.”

The festive Primark Keyboard app
The festive Primark Keyboard app