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business Campaigns digital snippets e-commerce product Retail sustainability technology

Shopify’s $6.6m sustainability fund, TikTok’s global rise, the new lure of the mall

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

TOP STORIES
  • Shopify looks to fight climate change, commits $6.6 million to new sustainability fund (BetaKit)
  • The strategy behind TikTok’s global rise (Harvard Business Review)
  • Can rollercoasters and a bunny garden lure shoppers back to the mall? (BoF)
  • Germany unveils Green Button: what you need to know about the worlds first sustainable textile label (Fashion United)
TECHNOLOGY
  • Pentland brands trials AR app (Drapers)
  • How technologies like RFID elevate the customer experience (Fashion United)
  • Luxury retailers are ladling on perks to please ultra-rich clients (Wired)
  • Coca-Cola cans activate animated stories in AR (Mobile Marketer)
  • Entrupy is an app that helps authenticate your grails (Highsnobiety)
  • McDonald’s uses AI for ordering at drive-throughs (BBC News)
SUSTAINABILITY & PURPOSE
  • How designers are trying to make NYFW more sustainable (Nylon)
  • Gucci vies to be even greener (NYT)
  • Stella McCartney pens an urgent letter to the fashion industry (The Times)
  • Biodegradable clothes may fix fashion’s huge waste problem (Wired)
  • Second-hand fashion hits £187m on eBay (Fashion United)
  • Harvey Nichols dips a toe into the circular economy (Vogue Business)
  • H&M announces initiative to increase e-commerce sustainability (Fashion United)
  • Sainsbury vows to halve plastic packaging by 2025 (Retail Gazette)
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
BUSINESS
  • Philip Green’s Topshop & Topman report £505m loss (The Guardian)
  • New York’s Fashion Week revamp: did it work? (BoF)
  • New MD at Net-a-Porter (Drapers)
  • C&A files to begin IPO Process in Brazil (BoF)
  • Q&A with Mark Parker, CEO of Nike (Fast Company)
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • ‘We’re doing an evolution’: Inside Playboy’s extreme makeover (Digiday)
  • In London, is Extinction Rebellion out-marketing fashion? (BoF)
PRODUCT
  • Kim Kardashian’s Skims solutionwear launches online (Fashion United)
  • Duchess of Sussex’s new charity workwear collection (Vogue Business)
CULTURE
  • James Scully calls out ‘distressing’ treatment of models at NYFW (Dazed)
  • Macy’s announces 5-point plan to promote diversity and inclusion (Fashion United)
  • How to prevent your company from cultural appropriation (Forbes)
  • How cancel culture is affecting brands (Digiday)
  • PrettyLittleThing champions diversity at NYFW (Fashion United)
  • CurvyCon proves the future of fashion is fat (Fashionista)
  • M&S presents sunflower lanyards to support customer with disabilities (Retail Gazette)

How are you thinking about innovation? 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. Get in touch to learn more.

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business e-commerce Editor's pick Retail Startups technology

4 innovative retail fulfilment methods to know

The on-demand economy has fueled consumer desire for instant gratification. Products and platforms ranging from Airbnb and Uber, to Seamless or Deliveroo, have resulted in growing appetite in the market for convenience and immediacy on virtually anything and everything we can dream of today.

Needless to say, that has therefore filtered over to retail, with mega corporations like Amazon only feeding the notion that we need access to products within the same or next day – leaving little option but for other businesses to follow suit.

By 2021, over 2.14 billion people worldwide are expected to buy products online, reports eMarketer. A core aspect of the purchasing decisions that come with this is speed of delivery. According to McKinsey & Co for instance, 25% of consumers would pay a premium to receive products same day.

This of course presents logistical challenges. The cost of global delivery amounts to €70billion a year, according to McKinsey, with the last mile portion of that being the biggest challenge to fulfill efficiently. As a result, numerous logistics businesses have been scrabbling to offer the right kind of solutions for their clients. Over the next five years, 78% of them are expected to provide same day delivery, and within 10 years, 39% anticipate two-hour delivery, reports Zebra Technologies.

In a bid to be competitive, luxury has picked up on it as well. Farfetch now offer 90-minute delivery in 10 cities globally for instance, while Net-a-Porter is also striving to improve the shopping experience by offering its top tier a ‘You Try, We Wait’ same day service.

There are many others experimenting with their own methods alongside. Here are four areas of innovation within the delivery space we’re currently tracking…

CROWDSOURCED DELIVERY

The last mile of fulfillment is the most expensive and time consuming part of the delivery process, but numerous startups are looking to disrupt this space by enabling anyone to have anything delivered on-demand by trialling such areas as crowdsourced delivery. 

Similar to the structure of Uber, this allows individual couriers to deliver parcels straight to your door, or facilitate them for pick-up or drop-off around individual homes and offices. Crowdsourced delivery is expected to be adopted by 90% of retailers by 2028, according to a report by delivery company Roadie.

One e-commerce company currently trialling such a scheme is Zalando. This allows people to volunteer their homes as pick-up and drop-off points in Scandinavia. Primarily intended to benefit the customer, it also enables self-employed, retired or stay-at-home parents to earn some extra income.

ROBOTIC POSTIES
Ford Delivery Robot

McKinsey & Co predicts that more than 80% of parcels will be delivered autonomously in the next decade. The thought of robots walking around town beside us may seem a little futuristic, but many companies have already successfully tested them.

Postmates is intending to roll out a new autonomous delivery robot in Los Angeles later this year, for instance. The self-driving rover, named Serve, uses a camera, light detector and sensor to safely navigate the sidewalk. This can create a virtual picture of the world in real time and communicate with customers via an interactive touch screen. Serve is part of Postmates’ vision of a world where goods move rapidly and efficiently throughout cities.

Ford meanwhile is experimenting with a package carrying robot that will be able to walk, climb stairs and deliver your parcel to your front door. In partnership with Agility Robotics, the robot – called Digit – can successfully carry a 40lb package.

DRONES
Amazon Prime Air Service

Next up is autonomous urban aircrafts, otherwise known as drones. This could become a $1.5 trillion industry by 2040, according to Morgan Stanley Research.

Amazon has been leading the way in the space for some time with its Prime Air service, which is under constant experimentation. Its latest announcement said consumers will be able to get parcels delivered within 30 minutes or less by drone, thanks to a sophisticated ‘sense and avoid’ technology allowing it to safely maneuver in the sky. Executive Jeff Wilke stated that between 75%-90% of deliveries could technically be handled by drones in the future.

Strictly speaking, however, when that will be is still unclear. While the technology is improving constantly – using a combination of thermal cameras, depth cameras and sophisticated machine learning – there remains the small issue of authorization. Regulation is continuing to evolve, with a recent test moving things forward in the US market, and further developments happening in Europe, but Amazon’s view of commercial drone deliveries ready within just a few months, seems unlikely.

It’s not alone in trying however. Wing, a drone service from Alphabet – Google’s parent company – has completed a successful trial in Australia and is now doing so in Finland. Similarly, UPS is currently testing drones for the use of medical supplies and samples in North Carolina. Its long term plan is to eventually roll out the drones for the industrial, manufacturing and retail markets. UPS is another that has applied for a Federal Aviation Administration certificate that it hopes will allow it to operate the drones on mass.

ALL ACCESS
Waitrose While You’re Away Yale Technology

In a bid to combat the fact so many parcels see unsuccessful delivery attempts due to the absence of the recipient, there are also numerous experiments in the market to get around the need for humans to be present when the action takes place. This is especially being considered in the online grocery market, which is expected to grow 52% over the next give years to £17.3billion, meaning investments in home deliveries will need to be expanded.

One example we’ve seen comes again from Amazon, which has developed a system that allows couriers to deliver parcels to a customer’s car. The Key-In-Car service is available for all Prime members with a Volvo or General Motors vehicle dated after 2015. Through encryption, the courier can unlock the trunk without needing a key. This is available in 37 cities across the US. Similarly, Skoda is developing a technology that allows delivery firms one-time access to the trunk of the car. The biggest challenge to this opportunity is the threat of security. The risks can be mitigated however by couriers wearing body cameras and sending photographic evidence upon delivery, but retailers must gain consumer trust in the process first.

British supermarket Waitrose, part of the John Lewis Partnership, has gone even further by testing a ‘While you’re Away’ service in south London. This initiative gives delivery drivers a unique code that gives them temporary access to the customer’s property, allowing them to put away the shopping on their behalf. The lock technology has been developed by Yale and will be free to install for customers. To give them piece of mind, each driver will indeed wear a video camera to record their steps, which the customer can request access to.

How are you thinking about innovative delivery solutions? 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. Get in touch to learn more. 

Categories
Comment data e-commerce Editor's pick sustainability

Sustainable fashion: the rising need for quantifiable standardization

Search Google for the meaning of “sustainable fashion” and you’ll quickly discover there’s no standard for it in a qualified way, let alone a quantifiable one. 

Some of the definitions are so sweeping they could in fact refer to nearly anything loosely associated. The Victoria & Albert Museum’s version in London, referring to it as “ethical fashion”, reads: “An umbrella term to describe ethical fashion design, production, retail, and purchasing. It covers a range of issues such as working conditions, exploitation, fair trade, sustainable production, the environment, and animal welfare.” 

Does that mean as a brand you have to do all of them? Or does considering just one or two count? Arguably even then these groupings only touch the surface. 

And therein lies the problem. While the industry is wrapping its head around more sustainable practices against each of those different factors, there’s no agreed-upon guideline as to what each of them are, let alone how they should be accurately measured. 

At a time when consumer awareness is only increasing and the need for education is so high, having a different understanding of what sustainable actually means, is potentially a risky game to play. 

Take the new Net Sustain strategy from luxury e-commerce player, Net-a-Porter, released two weeks ago, for instance. This includes a list of brands it now refers to as “sustainable” as per key criteria identified with an agency that include locally made, craft & community, considered materials, considered processes and reducing waste. 

To qualify, items only have to hit one of these five areas, which means, for now, something that is made from organic cotton for instance, is classified the same as something where over 50% of it has been made in its own country or community. 

Farfetch meanwhile announced its Conscious Edit in April as part of its Positively Farfetch strategy. This comes via a partnership with ethical rating system Good On You, which tracks products in terms of impact to society, the environment and animals. As with Net-a-Porter, Farfetch has identified the need for “rigorous, independently-assessed criteria”, in which brands need to score a minimum of four out of five in one area to qualify. 

Another UK-based e-commerce entity, this time at the fast fashion end of the spectrum, is ASOS. It too has a new “Responsible Edit”, which appears as both a page on its site and a filter that can be used when browsing. It reportedly includes garments made from recycled materials and sustainable fibers, such as those using less water and resulting in less waste.

So that’s three major players all now actively thinking about sustainable fashion in a qualified manner and communicating such to consumers, but all in slightly different ways and to varying degrees. 

The actual means by which measurement is carried out is seemingly different for each too. Net-a-Porter is auditing all of the brands themselves with the agency they’ve brought on – interviewing the key players involved to determine whether what they “say” is true, is actually the case. One of the biggest challenges in this space is proving there’s authenticity in what is being shared – and not just because of falsified information, but often because the brands involved think they’re more sustainable than they really are. A rigorous approach to selection and curation is therefore essential. 

It’s for that reason Net-a-Porter has only put forward 26 brands right now of the 800 it sells. The plus side is that it’s doing that curation on a product-by-product level, not just at the brand level. There can of course be a big difference in sustainability from one piece in the collection to the next, which must also be taken into consideration. 

Yet that also makes this a huge undertaking for the business. An enormous amount of resource needs to be involved, making the likelihood of scalability another challenge. 

ASOS by comparison has over 3,700 products included in its Responsible Edit, and says it’s going to be adding new products daily. Though this isn’t clarified, presumably those are not each independently verified – again for reasons of resource versus scale. 

Again, this is an indication that what we’re talking about here are different qualifiable definitions, standards and methodologies, and not quantified ones. 

And yet achieving the latter is incredibly difficult at present because of the fact there just isn’t enough data available to enable it. The majority of the fashion industry has no true view of its own supply chain. Can we categorize individual products as sustainable against individual criteria? Yes. But can we truly show depth of impact? No. 

I know this from our work with Google. We’re building out a data analytics and machine learning tool powered by Google Cloud technology that will enable fashion brands to make more responsible sourcing decisions at the raw materials stage of the supply chain. Without that, a lot of this is guesswork, or it’s a case of global averages and assumptive results. 

Creating regulated measurement for the industry is of course intensely hard. There have been numerous attempts already, but nothing that has been universally accepted under that umbrella phrase of “sustainable fashion”. Some of the strongest ones out there that could achieve this remain either too hard or time-intensive to use, or indeed just not proven as accurate enough yet. 

As an alternative, there are a multitude of standards and certifications brands can choose from to help them on this journey, but that space is also overrun and confusing, not to mention costly. One only needs to look at the enormous list Net-a-Porter is referencing on its breakdown of categories to see what I mean here. 

Without any unification on this, where does this all move down the line? Because frankly, we really need it. 

Two weeks ago, we also saw the UK government reject 18 recommendations put forward by the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) to help move this space forward. Among them was the suggestion that government should oblige retailers to ensure full traceability in their supply chains to prove decent livelihoods and sustainably sourced materials. Without the role of regulation, we’re at another stalemate. It’s each for their own in terms of defining what is right and what is wrong, creating ambiguity at a time when consumers increasingly want to be told and thus guided.

Here’s the other thing: fast fashion brand BooHoo.com, as with others before it, just announced a new line called “For the Future”, which sees 34 pieces made from recycled polyester. Yet the brand was one of many that came under scrutiny for its standards more broadly in the EAC report. So the question is, even if this new collection is quantifiably better for the environment and for the people involved in making it, if the mainline brand is not, does this make it a better business overall all the same? 

Or rather, is this an example of brands jumping on a new market opportunity both because the consumer demand is growing and the industry expectation is there? In which case, the alternative we’re facing right now is the question of where the line is on greenwashing? Seemingly it’s moving ever more rapidly to a place that’s harder to identify. 

The result is that all of this presents more questions than not. Due credit goes to many of these businesses for moving in the right direction with their sustainable edits particularly, but there needs to be a common and quantifiable set of standards and measurements for us to all understand and use for the long term if we’re to achieve true change. 

How are you thinking about sustainability? 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. Get in touch to learn more.

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

ICYMI: UK gov rejects sustainable recommendations, celebrating Karl, GenZ and TikTok

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

TOP STORIES
  • UK ministers reject plans for 1p per garment levy to tackle fast fashion [The Guardian]
  • ‘Karl for ever’: a joyful celebration of Karl Lagerfeld’s legacy [WWD]
  • Gen Z loves TikTok. Can fashion brands learn to love it too? [BoF]
  • How a £1 bikini revealed the changing shape of fast fashion [The Guardian]
TECHNOLOGY
  • The world is a mess. We need fully automated luxury communism [NY Times]
  • John Lewis to trial VR experience in shops [Fashion Network]
  • Amazon deploys ‘Pegasus’ robots in sortation centers [Retail Dive]
  • Training a single AI model can emit as much carbon as five cars in their lifetimes [Technology Review]
SUSTAINABILITY & PURPOSE
  • H&M called out on “illegal” sustainability marketing [Eco Textile]
  • Net-a-Porter has started telling customers which brands are sustainable [The Independent]
  • More than half of British and American consumers want a more sustainable fashion industry [i-D Vice]
  • Prada sets goal to phase out virgin nylon by 2021 [BoF]
  • Ralph Lauren unveils new sustainability goals [WWD]
  • Banana Republic announces waterless dyed denim for 2020 [Fashion United]
  • Why we can’t relax about vegan leather [Vogue Business]
  • The North Face teams with National Geographic for upcycled plastic line [Fashion United]
  • Asos unveils ‘responsible edit’ [Drapers]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Verishop’s plan to be the Amazon of “affordable luxury” [Vogue Business]
  • Carrefour opens store with facial recognition and sensors [Retail Dive]
  • Pablo Isla defends ‘integrated model’ as a way to differentiate Inditex [Fashion Network]
  • Backstage and Story are very pretty. But, will they lure shoppers to Macy’s? [Retail Dive]
  • Gamification: the future of luxury retail in China [Jing Daily]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • The AI-driven social media network hailed as the next Tumblr [Dazed]
  • Mountain Hardwear launches AR app to bring outdoor gear to life [Retail Dive]
  • The future of marketing is bespoke everything [The Atlantic]
  • Mulberry bases new marketing campaign on British pub culture [Fashion Network]
  • MAC Cosmetics tries on YouTube’s newest AR ad formats [Retail Dive]
PRODUCT
  • Dolce & Gabbana becomes the first luxury fashion house to extend sizes [Fashion United]
  • Adidas and Ikea to develop products for home workouts [Fashion Network]
BUSINESS
  • Unilever acquires beauty brand Tatcha for a reported $500 million [AdWeek]
  • Chanel dispels rumors of sale after announcing a strong financial year [Fashion United]
  • Mulberry falls into the red [Drapers]
  • Kenzo parts ways with creative directors Humberto Leon and Carol Lim [WWD]
  • Topshop owner’s fall is fastest in UK high street memory [Vogue Business]
  • Revenue jumps 39% at Boohoo Group [Drapers]
CULTURE
  • Unilever boss warns of dangers of ‘woke-washing’ in ad industry [Sky News]
  • As drag goes mainstream, queer fashion designers reap business benefits [Fashionista]
  • It’s long overdue for fashion to think about people with disabilities [Hypebeast]
  • Streetwear’s big opportunity: women [BoF]

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. Current Global 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
business Campaigns digital snippets product Retail sustainability technology

ICYMI: Chanel announces successor, Amazon scraps Dash buttons, Ted Baker boss steps down

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

TOP STORIES
  • Virginie Viard to fill Karl Lagerfeld’s brash boots at Chanel [The Times]
  • Amazon stops selling Dash buttons, goofy forerunners of the connected home [CNET]
  • Ted Baker boss Ray Kelvin quits after ‘forced hugging’ claims [The Guardian]
  • Gap to spin off Old Navy into separate public company [Retail Dive]
TECHNOLOGY
  • Apple is releasing a foldable iPhone, and it’s not only about all those patents [Tom’s Guide]
SUSTAINABILITY & PURPOSE
  • New York City launches project to promote fashion recycling [Fashion United]
  • Launch of Australasian Circular Textiles Association (ACTA) means business for sustainable fashion [Fashion United]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Harrods targets online growth with Farfetch partnership [The Industry]
  • Ted Baker launches monthly product drops [Fashion United]
  • Pinterest expands the ability to shop on its platform [PYMNTS]
  • J.C. Penney pulls plug on clothing subscription service [BoF]
  • QVC UK introduces social commerce for ‘discovery-led’ shopping [Fashion United]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • New Balance pub only accepts miles ran as currency [TheCurrent Daily]
  • Louis Vuitton unveils digital ‘Postcard’ window displays [WWD]
  • Rebecca Minkoff partners with Yelp to support businesswomen [Fashion United]
  • Ralph Lauren opens Ralph’s Café on Boulevard Saint-Germain in Paris [Fashion Network]
PRODUCT
  • Meet Glossier Play, the new high impact makeup brand from Glossier [WWD]
  • Net-a-Porter teams up with prominent female designers for international women’s day capsule [Fashion United]
  • Bonobos to unveil first women’s capsule [WWD]
  • Target is the latest retailer to take on Victoria’s Secret [Quartz]
BUSINESS
  • Swarovski, CFDA part ways for Fashion Awards [WWD]
  • LVMH plans London hotel and new flagship in experiential push [BoF]
  • Anya Hindmarch to split with partner Mayhoola for investments [WWD]
  • Burberry launches staff training plan after ‘noose’ hoodie row [The Guardian]
  • L Brands to shutter 53 Victoria’s Secret stores [Retail Dive]
  • Puma signs mega global deal with Manchester City owner, its biggest deal ever [Fashion Network]
  • Macy’s new restructuring to cut 100 senior positions, save $100 million annually [Fashion Network]
CULTURE
  • Sesame Street’s turning 50, and InStyle dressed our favorite characters for the party [InStyle]

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. The Current Global 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
business digital snippets e-commerce Events mobile product Retail social media sustainability technology Uncategorized

ICYMI: Retail innovation is failing, Rihanna and LVMH’s deal, ASOS on the future of e-commerce

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

TOP STORIES
  • Why retail innovation is failing [BoF]
  • Rihanna and LVMH make a deal and, possibly, history [NYT]
  • Asos CEO on the next e-commerce frontier [BoF]
  • Bloomingdale’s updates the in-store beauty experience with technology, cross-selling experiences and events [Glossy]
  • 3 key takeaways from NRF’s Big Show 2019 [TheCurrent Daily]
TECHNOLOGY
  • Robot delivery dogs deployed by self-driving cars are coming [TechCrunch]
  • Procter & Gamble debut a handheld device that could replace makeup [The Next Web]
  • Google buys $40 million worth of smartwatch tech from Fossil Group [Ars Technica]
SUSTAINABILITY & PURPOSE
  • CFDA launches sustainability resource hub [Fashion United]
  • J.Crew and Cotton Incorporated partner to turn used denim into housing insulation [Sourcing Journal]
  • Americans throw out 10 pieces of clothing a year for not knowing how to care for them [Fashion United]
  • Marks & Spencer to tap into vegan fashion trend [Fashion Network]
  • Sustainable fashion hubs rise in Hong Kong and Taipei [BoF]
  • Tommy Hilfiger to introduce sustainable denim jeans [WWD]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • American Eagle launches dressing room technology [Retail Dive]
  • Missguided enhances payment options [Fashion United]
  • Net-a-Porter launches ‘try before you buy’ [Drapers]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Burberry has the last laugh in Instagram egg battle [Vogue]
  • Walgreens testing in-store coolers with IoT ad displays [Retail Dive]
  • Victoria Beckham amps up direct-to-consumer strategy with focus on editorial content [WWD]
  • Virgil Abloh unveils first men’s campaign for Louis Vuitton [WWD]
PRODUCT
  • Savage x Fenty responds to criticism that they’re selling different styles to straight- and plus-size customers [Teen Vogue]
  • Valentino and Birkenstock collaboration hits Men’s Fashion Week in Paris [Sourcing Journal]
  • Off-White and Mr Porter to launch collaborative capsule collection [Fashion United]
  • SoulCycle is stepping up its retail game with new in-house line of performance activewear [Fashionista]
  • Amazon unveils own-brand makeup line [Fashion Network]
  • The Fenty effect comes to skincare [BoF]
BUSINESS
  • LVMH takes minority stake in Gabriela Hearst [Fashion United]
  • British Fashion Council plumps for The People’s Vote on Brexit [WWD]
CULTURE
  • Catering to Gen Z is a balancing act of activism and selfies [Sourcing Journal]
  • America Vogue apologises for misidentifying Muslim American journalist [BoF]

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. TheCurrent Global 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
business Editor's pick Podcast sustainability technology Uncategorized

Our top 10 innovation podcasts to listen to

 

Big issues such as sustainability, rising technologies and the changing role of the consumer were major topics of conversation in 2018, as evidenced by the top shows on TheCurrent Global’s weekly Innovators podcast.

Throughout the year, we explored far and wide what those leading the industry are doing to tackle some of the most pressing issues it faces today. Here, we highlight 10 of the most interesting conversations had as we look forward to 2019 and providing even more food for thought for our listeners.

Ian Rogers, chief digital officer, LVMH
Ian Rogers at The New York Times International Luxury Conference


Speaking to co-host Liz Bacelar at The New York Times International Luxury Conference in November, LVMH’s Ian Rogers rang the death knell for the chief digital officer, a role he himself holds. The title, he argued, is merely a transitional one as brands become accustomed to a future where there is a digital layer to every consumer interaction. He also talked about how it makes sense that luxury took so long to jump into e-commerce; why CEOs don’t need to know technology intrinsically; and what he’s driving at LVMH to keep up with the level of experience the customer expects online.

Listen here

Anna Gedda, head of sustainability, H&M Group
Anna Gedda and Rachel Arthur
Anna Gedda and Rachel Arthur

“We only have one planet, and the toll [the fashion industry] has on resources today is simply unsustainable,” H&M’s Anna Gedda told co-host Rachel Arthur. With that in mind, the Swedish group is pushing towards an ambitious goal of being 100% circular by 2030. The sustainability expert also talked about how collaboration in the industry is critical and the important role artificial intelligence will play in this field.

Listen here

Laurence Haziot, global managing director, IBM
Laurence Haziot and Rachel Arthur
Laurence Haziot and Rachel Arthur

A leading woman in the STEM industries, Laurence Haziot, global MD at IBM, believes blockchain will have the same long-term impact that the internet has had on commerce. During this conversation, she broke down what this technology means for fashion, why she is bullish on the efficiencies it could drive throughout the supply chain, and how it’ll play a major role in sustainability and transparency.

Listen here

Avery Baker, chief brand officer, Tommy Hilfiger 
Liz Bacelar and Avery Baker
Liz Bacelar and Avery Baker

“When you’re trying to do something that really creates an impact and is somewhat revolutionary, then you’ve got to put all the chips on the table,” said Tommy Hilfiger’s Avery Baker. For the chief brand officer, who has been with the company for 20 years, risk, authenticity and understanding your consumer are the keys to innovation. She also talked about how the brand has translated its American roots and values to a global audience, how it overcame the unexpected lull, and why magic and logic need to work together.

Listen here

Martin Urrutia, head of retail innovation, Lego
Lego's Martin Urrutia with Rachel Arthur
Martin Urrutia and Rachel Arthur

Lego seeks feedback from six year-olds, and often breaks into moments of play in order to shift siloed thinking. That, believes Martin Urrutia, is how the company remains focused on the relationship between the user and the brick. In this passionate chat, the head of retail innovation also spoke about the importance that technology and a knowledgeable staff both play in creating elevated retail experiences.

Listen here

Jen Rubio, co-founder, Away
Jen Rubio and Liz Bacelar
Jen Rubio and Liz Bacelar

Direct-to-consumer luggage brand, Away, received its first round of funding without even having a product, which is a testament of how clear its vision was from the get-go. Co-founder Jen Rubio talks about how she built a brand based on making travel more seamless, how they overcame their first major hurdle, and why listening to customer feedback and constantly iterating is key to innovation.

Listen here

Matthew Woolsey, managing director, NET-A-PORTER
Matthew Woolsey with guest host Rosanna Falconer
Matthew Woolsey with guest host Rosanna Falconer


The future of e-commerce may not be about a traditional website at all, but about existing on multiple other platforms, said NET-A-PORTER’s Matthew Woolsey. One of the luxury retailer’s most expensive sales, a watch, was completed entirely on WhatsApp, for instance. This shows the importance of a customer centric strategy, he explained, from what platform to use to how to integrate data and AI into every process.

Listen here

Dan Makoski, VP of design, Walmart
Liz Bacelar and Dan Makoski, Walmart
Liz Bacelar and Dan Makoski

“Design is best when it serves people,” said Walmart’s now former VP of design, Dan Makowski. He spearheaded the world’s largest retailer’s e-commerce redesign, explaining that it all came down to focusing on elevating the shopping experience for the changing customer of today. With so many brands now under its umbrella, such as ModCloth and Jet.com, there was a new focus on having a wider conversation in order to cater to different types of consumers, he noted.

Listen here

Sandrine Deveaux, MD of Store of the Future, Farfetch
Rosanna Falconer and Sandrine Deveaux
Sandrine Deveaux with guest host Rosanna Falconer

The store of the future will solve consumer problems in innovative and meaningful ways, said Sandrine Deveaux, MD of Farfetch’s division dedicated to such a cause. Technology, she said, should not be deployed just for the sake of it, but to create better shopping experiences driven by personalization. She referred to the experience of Apple, but the convenience of Amazon, and why she’s on a quest to change the way luxury brands think.

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Guive Balooch, global VP of L’Oréal’s tech incubator
Rachel Arthur and Guive Balooch


L’Oréal is on a mission to marry technology and beauty in order to enhance customer’s lives, said Guive Balooch, global VP of the beauty group’s tech incubator. From the connected hairbrush to the customized formulas or augmented reality makeup apps his team has created, the key is thinking about how to personalize all interactions and solutions for consumers, he explained. “In 10 years time there’s no question to me that every person will have the ability to have the perfect product for them,” he noted.

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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.

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e-commerce Editor's pick Podcast

NET-A-PORTER on personalizing the customer experience

Rosanna Falconer and Matthew Woolsey

The future of e-commerce may not be about a traditional website at all, but about existing on multiple other platforms, expresses Matthew Woolsey, managing director at online luxury retailer, NET-A-PORTER, on the latest episode of the Innovators podcast by TheCurrent.

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

The company sees many of its big customers making purchases over platforms including Whatsapp, iMessage and WeChat, which have become their primary entry point to e-commerce through their relationships with personal shoppers, he explains.

“We want to be in the platform where our customer is engaging with content, seeing the product or speaking with the personal shopper. It’s about what’s best for her. We never want to be in a position where we are forcing or imposing a platform or methodology on our customers, because that’s the opposite of customer centricity,” he explains.

“It’s very easy to imagine a time when NET-A-PORTER doesn’t even have a website, in the traditional sort of desktop sense, and really what it exists as is more of a concierge, on-demand, service offering. I think that’s the future of where this industry is headed and it’s something we are really well suited for because we have that infrastructure, we have that service component but we also know a lot more about our customer than just what she is buying.”

Data is central to being able to personalize the experience for individual customers in this way, he explains, outlining how the company is constantly looking at how to give its personal shoppers greater tools through technology.

The company is currently experimenting with how it can use artificial intelligence to merge data between purchase history and fashion trends to give personal shoppers recommendations and ideas in advance that are personalized to the customer, for instance.

Eventually the idea is for this to be scalable across the seven million consumers NET-A-PORTER talks to, but hitting its EIPs, or extremely important people, is the core focus, given the fact this 3% of its customer base, make up 40% of its revenue.

Speaking with Rosanna Falconer at a FashMash event in London, Woolsey also reveals why the most expensive item ever bought via a messaging app is so significant, whether NET-A-PORTER would ever think about physical retail, and how to manage the modern day tension between algorithms and inspiration.  

Catch up with all of our episodes of the Innovators podcast by the Current 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.

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Campaigns digital snippets e-commerce product Retail social media sustainability technology

ICYMI: Burberry and Farfetch, Natalie Massenet on exiting BFC, Alibaba’s retail strategy

Cara Delevingne in Burberry latest collection
Cara Delevingne in Burberry’s latest collection

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

TOP STORIES
  • Burberry to expand online reach with Farfetch tie-up [Telegraph]
  • For Natalie Massenet, change brings opportunity [BoF]
  • Alibaba invests another $1.3 billion into its offline retail strategy [TechCrunch]
  • Can Marchesa survive in a post-Weinstein world? [Refinery29]
  • NYFW roundup: #MeToo conversations, immersive runways and supersized robots [TCDaily]
TECHNOLOGY
  • In-depth: H&M puts tech at the heart of action plan to turn the brand around [TCDaily]
SUSTAINABILITY
  • When it comes to millennials’ fashion buys, price and convenience trump sustainability [WWD]
  • If you care about ethical fashion, it’s time to stop sleeping on G-Star Raw [Fashionista]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Selfridges opens in-store boxing gym in “world first” [RetailGazette]
  • WeWork moves into retail with new partnership with J.Crew [Glossy]
  • Mulberry takes over Spencer House for London Fashion Week 2018 [Campaign]
  • Fewer happy returns in retail land as companies tighten generous return policies [Fung Global Retail Tech]
  • Target will roll out same day delivery in Twin Cities next month as it faces off with Amazon [StarTribune]
  • Google wants to change the way we shop online, beginning with beauty brands [Campaign]
MARKETING
  • How Nike’s “Nothing Beats a Londoner” advert taps into real London culture [HypeBeast]
  • PORTER becomes editorial voice across Net-A-Porter as it goes digital with daily updates [TheIndustry]
SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Inside Vans’ social media strategy [Digiday]
  • Pinterest now lets you archive boards, rearrange pins and more [AdWeek]
PRODUCT
  • This blouse comes with free performance coaching sessions [FastCompany]
  • Macy’s is making history with its new hijab-friendly clothing line [Brit+Co]
  • Customization in beauty is on the rise, but its scalability is uncertain [Glossy]
BUSINESS
  • Blockbuster Gucci continues to boost Kering [BoF]
  • Fashion unicorn Farfetch will soon interview bankers for its New York IPO [CNBC]
  • Richemont uncovers counterfeiters abusing customer service line to copy designs [WWD]
  • The future of luxury: 7 trends reshaping the luxury industry [CBInsights]
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data e-commerce Editor's pick mobile social media sustainability technology

2017: A designer meets digital year in review

Chanel's spacecraft at Paris Fashion Week (Image: Vogue Paris) - space technology - space race
Chanel’s spacecraft at Paris Fashion Week (Image: Vogue Paris)

It’s always interesting looking back at the most-read stories on the site for the year – a hugely indicative view on what the big subjects have been and the direction of travel accordingly for the industry.

This year – while we’ve been living a particularly tough time for retail, with multiple bankruptcies and ongoing store closures – the lens through which we report, has only been a positive one.

There’s been a big focus on sustainability for instance, from new bioengineered materials actually hitting at a commercial level, through to the role blockchain can play in enabling greater transparency.

Artificial intelligence has also been a particularly pertinent subject – ranging from the impact it’s having on personalisation, to the future of automated stores and the role of voice technology.

On the subject of the future, our ongoing fascination with space travel hit fever pitch this year too – as a society at large, and within the fashion industry itself once more – which was reflected in our long-read on the future branding opportunity that lies in spacesuits.

On top of that in our 10 most popular stories on Fashion & Mash this year was a look at augmented reality, the evolving view on the store of the future and the way in which Instagram Stories is being used.

Enjoy!