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

What you missed: Browns’ new tech store, Gucci’s millennial advisors, Amazon’s fashion gap

The new Browns concept store in east London
The new Browns concept store in east London

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


TOP STORIES
  • Browns opens a nomadic concept (tech) store in London’s Shoreditch [Wallpaper]
  • Gucci has a “shadow committee” of millennial advisors [QZ]
  • Amazon ‘still has a long way to go’ in conquering fashion market, says report [BoF]
  • Alibaba’s 11.11 shopping festival is ready for its biggest global event [BrandChannel]
  • Opinion: What’s wrong with fashion’s sustainability strategy [Glossy]
  • ‘Terry Richardson is just the tip of the iceberg’ [NY Times]

BUSINESS
  • Hilfiger says making clothes in America remains unrealistic [Bloomberg]
  • H&M denies burning good, unsold product [Racked]
  • Greenpeace on why fashion is at a crossroads [FashionUnited]
  • Vogue and Vice are starting a new website together [Jezebel]

SOCIAL MEDIA
  • You can now PayPal friends in Messenger and get help via chat [TechCrunch]
  • WeChat is becoming a sales tool for luxury brand sales associates [Jing Daily]
  • Snap’s misfire on Spectacles [The Information]

MARKETING
  • Sephora cast its own store employees for its most diverse campaign yet [Racked]
  • Selena Gomez is party-ready in Coach’s glitzy holiday ad campaign [Fashionista]
  • Net-a-Porter and Mr Porter unveil “Party with the Porters” holiday campaign [TheIndustry]
  • The land of Fenty: The Rihanna masterclass in brand-building [BrandChannel]
  • Why visceral storytelling is the next brand-building territory [LeanLuxe]

RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Take a look at Apple’s first ‘Town Square,’ its most beautiful retail store yet [TechCrunch]
  • Now Amazon wants to leave a package inside your house [Marketplace]
  • The most successful e-commerce brands build for mainstream America, not Silicon Valley [Recode]
  • Hudson’s Bay to sell Lord & Taylor Fifth Avenue store to WeWork [RetailDive]

TECHNOLOGY
  • Target.com rolls out augmented reality experience for smartphones [StarTribune]
  • The Under Armour ArmourBox: Subscription gear handpicked by an AI [BrandChannel]
  • Walmart’s Store No. 8 showcases the future of VR [RetailDive]
  • Nike’s focus on robotics threatens Asia’s low-cost workforce [CNBC]
  • Wal-Mart’s new robots scan shelves to restock items faster [Reuters]

START-UPS
  • How Stitch Fix’s data-driven styling could boost its IPO value [Bloomberg]
  • Harvey Nichols partners with Bink on “Payment Linked Loyalty” [TheIndustry]
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
data digital snippets e-commerce social media Startups technology

Digital snippets: L’Oréal’s incubator, Bolt Threads teams with Patagonia, confessions of a social media exec

loreal-digital-600

There are lots of updates this past week on interesting textile developments – from the spider silk of Bolt Threads to Spiber, both of which have announced new deals with Patagonia and The North Face respectively. Also worth a read is the anonymous social media exec spilling secrets to Digiday, not to mention the idea that we will all indeed be buying our designer clothing in the future on Amazon. If that’s not enough, further fashion and tech news from the past fortnight spans Birchbox’s use of Facebook Live to a breakdown of how brands are using Snapchat. Read on for all…


  • L’Oréal invests in Founders Factory digital start-up incubator [BrandChannel]

  • Bolt Threads raises $50 million to brew spider silk, inks deal with Patagonia [TechCrunch]

  • Confessions of a social media exec on influencer marketing: ‘We threw too much money at them’ [Digiday]

  • People will eventually buy their designer clothing on Amazon, because they buy everything there [Quartz]

  • Everlane’s Shoe Park interactive pop-up offers self-guided shopping [Footwear News]

  • How Birchbox uses Facebook Live videos to engage consumers [Retail Dive]

  • How Frank + Oak built a modern loyalty program for men [Glossy]

  • Google DeepMind killed off a little-known fashion website [Business Insider]

  • SpaceX has hired a legendary costume designer to create their own spacesuits [Gizmodo]

  • The North Face to sell parka made out of synthetic spider silk by Japanese start-up Spiber [Bloomberg]

  • Thesis Couture is bringing the engineering savvy of rocket science to the design of the high-heeled shoe [The Atlantic]

  • The rise of robot tailors [Glossy]

  • L’Oréal created this training program to keep its marketers on the cutting edge [AdWeek]

  • How fashion and retail brands are using Snapchat [Fashionista]

  • Will the ‘sharing economy’ work for fashion? [BoF]

  • Bots, Messenger and the future of customer service [TechCrunch]

  • Condé Nast is launching a beauty network [Racked]

  • How a data scientist (who studied astrophysics) ended up in fashion [Fashionista]

  • Infographic: here’s how Gen Z girls prefer to shop and socialise online [AdWeek]

  • What is going on with fashion and zines? [Racked]

  • How online shopping is cannabilising mall stores [Associated Press]

  • REI’s ‘#OptOutside’ Black Friday campaign wins award [AdAge]
Categories
e-commerce Editor's pick mobile social media

Shopping start-up Spring launches one of first bots on Facebook Messenger

Spring_messenger_bot

Facebook announced the launch of its bot store during its F8 developer conference Tuesday, and m-commerce start-up Spring was one of the first businesses demonstrated using it.

The shopping app founded by David and Alan Tisch, is introducing what it calls a “personal shopping assistant” powered by Facebook’s new send/receive API. Already live in Messenger, it operates as a very simple conversation based on a series of multiple-choice questions, much like Sephora’s chatbot, recently launched on Kik, also does.

“Hey Rachel! What are you looking for today?” Spring asks, before providing numerous buttons to direct your responses. That conversation continues through product category, specific products, price point you’re willing to spend, and eventually, a carousel featuring five items you might want to buy. Clicking on one opens up a shoppable page to checkout from, before it sends you back to the message thread and surfaces up your receipt.

Head over to Forbes to read more about it, including the role artificial intelligence plays in building out such future natural language interactions, and the ability for personalisation at scale that it offers retailers.

Categories
business e-commerce Editor's pick mobile social media

How retailers are using mobile messaging to change the way we shop

In 2016, you might find yourself texting more with customer service reps than your real friends.

mobilemessaging

E-commerce has made some major technological strides in 2015, but one area in which there’s definitely room for improvement is customer service. The majority of online stores still filter you through a list of FAQs before asking you to fill out a form, eventually sending some sort of automated response to your email inbox, and still making you wait 24 hours before anyone gets in touch. If you haven’t actually made the purchase yet… well, you might just never bother.

Fortunately, some retailers are trying to streamline that experience, inventing a new way for us to shop in the process. Nordstrom launched TextStyle this summer to allow customers to be in touch with, as well as buy directly from, sales associates or personal stylists within the same text conversation.

Berlin-based e-commerce giant Zalando similarly introduced instant messaging with its stylists, but through Facebook-owned Whatsapp, which is Europe’s leading messaging app. Though less popular among US consumers, it has 900 million monthly active users worldwide, and sees more than 30 billion messages sent everyday. With Zalando, shoppers are able to use it to get in touch for advice and tips.

Meanwhile, Tictail, a Swedish marketplace for independent designers and small businesses, has just launched Tictail Talk, an in-app messaging tool that enables its sellers to chat directly with customers. “We’ve done a lot of research and across the board live chat is the leading communication channel in customer service; 95% of shoppers opt for it,” says Siavash Ghorbani, co-founder and CTO of Tictail. “And it makes sense: we all use messaging as our primary form of communication with friends. It is intuitive and real-time.”

Perhaps more importantly, he notes that it also decreases cart abandonment “by keeping the shopper within the purchasing experience”. Today, 60% of sales on Tictail come from mobile, and that number is only increasing.

Ana Andjelic, SVP and global strategy director at the consultancy Havas LuxHub, says online commerce is still very much a sport of guessing and any retailer helping to make that less the case is more likely to gain conversions. “Shopping online provides a lot of information, but being able to talk to an actual human on the other side of the chat app helps tenfold to alleviate a lot of anxieties that surround the online purchase.”

FacebookMessenger

It’s impossible to talk about such aims with instant messaging and mobile commerce without looking to China. Tencent-owned messaging app WeChat, which has nearly 650 million active users worldwide, is the market leader in this space. No longer just a tool for conversation, it’s also now a primary place for shopping, and that’s what western retailers, and competing platforms including Facebook Messenger, are looking to replicate: instant messaging with a buy button. On WeChat, an app that most people in China already have, you can hail a cab, split the bill in a restaurant, order movie tickets and, of course, buy clothes. WeChat Wallet is integrated in the app meaning shoppers don’t have to leave at any stage in order to complete a purchase. In terms of speed and ease of checkout, WeChat far surpasses any US retailer’s mobile capabilities.

The product roadmap for Facebook Messenger, which has 700 million active users, is distinctly similar to WeChat’s – an integration of tools that enable users to seamlessly move from conversation to commerce. Facebook began bringing businesses onto Messenger this year, including Everlane, which uses the platform to communicate with customers and even allows them to buy products within the app.

An added benefit is a thread of messages tracking a relationship between the brand and the shopper. As Ghorbani says: “Tictail Talk is an excellent way for brands to keep tabs on a shopper’s purchase history so that they can go back to users with new styles they think they’d like, information about when product is back in stock, even let shoppers know if they are hosting an open house, holiday sale or unique product collaboration.”

Michael Kushner believed so strongly in texting relationships between retailers and consumers that he co-founded Stefan’s Head, an SMS-based e-commerce brand. It’s built on the idea of having a conversation with “Stefan”. Informal text messages cover everything from new music to cool brands. Every couple of weeks it also includes details of new products coming out — the team started with graphic T-shirts but is evolving into exclusive collaborations with other designers and artists. “We think you should be able to message with a brand just like you do with your friends,” Kushner adds.

StefansHead

It’s about reaching consumers in the place they spend their time already, and doing so in a way that feels personal, but not too invasive or pushy. It works because it’s for a demographic that sends messages as second nature. The millennial audience has grown up with messaging, which is something Ryan Babenzien, founder and CEO of Brooklyn-based, start-up footwear brand, Greats, says is key.

“They’re living with their mobile device, so we’re communicating with them in the way they prefer. If we call them, they might not pick up; if we email them, they may not look at it. But with text, you will open it. That’s how we’ve been taught to treat messages,” he says.

Though Greats uses text as one-way dialogue at this point, it’s getting 100% open rates on what it sends, and starting to see conversions follow as a result. Today, 40% of its revenue comes from mobile, up to 60% when a new exclusive shoe will launch. “If something is seen to be very scarce and could be sold out quickly — that’s when kids want to use their mobile phone. That’s something to grab hold of,” Babenzien adds.

What all this means is that 2016 will likely be the year that retailers get much savvier about how to communicate with us via instant messages and/or text. If it solves online customer service headaches and makes shopping that much easier, we’re all for it. Just make sure you have a good mobile plan.

This post first appeared on Fashionista.com