Categories
business e-commerce Editor's pick Events product Retail Startups technology

Innovation Mansion brings “human factor” to NRF

The Current Global’s Innovation Mansion came to New York last weekend exploring how retail’s future needs to focus on technology and humans working as one.

Attended by c-suite executives from Fortune 500 companies and the world’s leading brands, the experiential activation aligned with NRF’s Big Show event happening this week.

Under the theme of “The Human Factor”, it examined the techniques used by top innovators, showcased rising technologies and explored how tech can deliver personalization, experience and convenience while being increasingly led by emotion.

One of the highlights was a live Innovators podcast recording with retail trailblazer, Ron Johnson, who is best known as the man behind the Apple store and the Genius Bar concept, and then CEO of JC Penney. Today, he is the founder and CEO of Enjoy, an e-commerce company that aims to reinvent the last mile.

Speaking to Current Global’s co-founder and CEO, Liz Bacelar, Johnson discussed the importance of deepening relationships with consumers at every step of the shopping journey. He explained how he believes the future of commerce is mobile retail, and how he is focusing on helping premium brands deliver joy and convenience to the consumer’s home.

Co-founder & CEO of Camp, Ben Kaufman and Co-founder & CEO of Current Global, Liz Bacelar

Meanwhile Ben Kaufman, co-founder and CEO of family store Camp, and former CMO of Buzzfeed, talked on the podcast about how his retail concept is using the winning recipe of merchandise, theatre and experience. Described as the “Speakeasy for kids”, the store brings a fresh perspective to traditional brick-and-mortar, with a rotating schedule of activities and themes, allowing customers to always find something new.

“We find a way to integrate productive retail space into even the big immersive experiential set pieces,” he explained to Bacelar, demonstrating how every square foot of the store is used to its best potential. 

Wrapping up the day was a panel focused on direct-to-consumer brands. It featured sunscreen brand Supergoop!, DTC incubator dtx company and retail concept SHOWFIELDS. The discussion explored how to build a brand for modern consumers, who see no boundaries between physical and digital.

Guests also had the opportunity to explore the latest technologies set to transform your business in 2020 with “The Hot 12” tech exhibit from Current Global, which included everything from smart mirrors to cutting-edge vending machines.

Look out for our Innovators podcast episodes with Enjoy’s Johnson and Camp’s Kaufman, publishing soon. Meanwhile, subscribe here to keep up with the latest episodes.

A special thank you to our content partner Bellwether Culture and partners United Talent Agency and Membrain.

Want to know more about how our technology partners can help you reach your innovation goals? 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 Comment Retail Startups technology

Innovator Liz Bacelar on the intersection of fashion and technology

Thanks to Ruth O’Connor for permission to publish this piece, originally published in The Sunday Business Post, October 2019.

‘Pay attention. You’ll need to,” Liz Bacelar declares as she takes to the stage. “What I present to you here will not be the same as what I present to people next week. That’s how quickly this stuff moves.”

Inventor of the phrase “fashion tech”, Bacelar is an entrepreneur, journalist and a co-founder of Current Global, an innovation firm based in New York, London and Tokyo, which seeks to redefine how fashion and retail intersect with technology.

Established in 2013 with her co-founder Rachel Arthur, Current Global forges relationships between fashion retailers, the luxury sector, tech giants and start-ups. Put simply, Bacelar has put the tech intelligence into retail. She’s speaking today at Maven46’s ‘Be’ Summit 2019 at Dublin’s Richmond Education and Event Centre, and is offering a whirlwind trip through consumer beauty and fashion, augmented reality and the immersive reality of multiple platforms.

Prior to launching Current Global, Bacelar established Decoded Fashion – the world’s largest innovator community for consumer retail. The company launched in ten countries before she exited. “I wanted to be in the connection business, not the conference business,” she says.

She is also co-founder of Flow Journeys, which sees a handpicked group of thought leaders visit locations as diverse as Iceland and Cuba to build relationships and foster collaboration. It’s networking on another level.

She uses terms like “data-driven customer journeys”, “augmented worlds” and “a culture of purpose” – which sound like future jargon, but we’re already there. Think you’ve never used augmented reality? What about apps such as the Dulux Visualiser which allows you to try paint colours on your wall? Amazon App’s View in your Room function? Or the recent launch of Spark AR on Instagram allowing users to “try on” cosmetics or sunglasses from Nars Cosmetics and Ray-Ban?

Bacelar is frequently asked whether bricks-and-mortar stores are dead. She doesn’t believe so; she says that physical retail spaces remain important, but that innovative brands are leveraging those spaces differently and the customer has become more demanding.

“It’s about having a mixed-reality layer overlaid [on the mobile experience], so that when you go into a store today you know that there will be a mirror in which you can see the make-up on your face. In certain markets, this is becoming a consumer expectation. The customer does not want to have to try on the product physically – they want to try on the product virtually.”

Later when we talk, Bacelar says that we are living in an era of contradictory behaviours, a battle between the digital and the analogue. The desire for immediacy and convenience has become a way of life. “You can live in a rural setting and still want to receive things faster,” she says. “We all perceive that we have less time, yet we also have more things to do, so we need vendors to give us efficiency and speed. A lot of what’s driving implementation of these things is a chase for speed and free time.”

The more free time we have, however, the more we spend it in a digital vortex which sucks away our human experiences. “It’s a pendulum that keeps swinging from one side to the other,” Bacelar says. “Sometimes you do want to talk to somebody when you go to a store. So technology now is swinging towards personal connections.”

Think of when you first got a personalized email from a brand. It seemed cool and even intimate at the start, but not after the 300th time. “But what if the email is from Tanya, who you met at the store, and who logged you in to the loyalty system for the brand? It becomes harder to ignore that email when you know it was sent by a real person. Stores are rolling that out now, with the first touchpoint being a real person.”

Data-driven customer journeys can become skewed when those same customers supply incorrect information. Think of the child who uses a fake date of birth to set up a Gmail account in order set up an Instagram account because they’re under the age limit, or when you put in false details online for privacy reasons.

Liz Bacelar, co-founder & CEO of Current Global speaking at Maven46’s ‘Be’ Summit 2019

“The major platforms do have bad data,” says Bacelar. “A lot of brands over-rely on data from the social media giants and they don’t have their own way to create a deeper understanding of who their consumer is. There are a lot of start-ups that want brands to think outside of those major platforms by harnessing the data themselves to reach a place of accuracy.”

Since we spoke in Dublin, I’ve been anticipating the new Ken Loach and Paul Laverty film Sorry We Missed You, due for release in November. It’s a stark look at the zero-hour-contract gig economy and the appalling conditions in which the people who deliver our online shopping work because we demand immediacy through e-commerce. It raises the question of where the humanity lies in all of this.

Bacelar believes that the next big retail trend is the “trend of purpose”. Thanks to the “Greta effect” she believes that young people are becoming less interested in shopping from brands that lack purpose. “Kids are bouncing from digital to analogue at a very interesting pace and the way they are aggregating communities is very interesting. The sustainability and climate change effort does not belong to any specific social platform,” she says. “It is a globalization of mobilization – the ability to mobilize communities and groups from anywhere without being in one specific place.”

Bacelar says that we are living an “offline moment” through global climate change protests and that we are also living in an “exponential curve” – a period of change on a large scale at an accelerated pace. “The level of change we’ve seen in the past six months has been greater than in the past ten years when it comes to the subjects of sustainability, technology and data awareness. Change is happening very fast.”

If people in general are resistant to change, this is also the case in the corporate environment where she says many executives believe that innovation is gimmicky rather than “doing something in a new way to get different results”.

Bacelar adds that we, as consumers, have the power to shape the conversation. “I know of companies today who are only doing sustainability because you must show that you care,” she says.

“Companies like the Eileen Fisher womenswear brand have been doing this for many years and no one listened. It once looked stupid to take old clothes and remanufacture them. Now it sounds invigorating and inspiring to a consumer.

“If I were a luxury executive, I would be terrified of the ten-year-old kids today. Their futures depend on these executives and they are not aligned. These kids walking the streets with Greta Thunberg care about localization, activism, inclusivity, empowerment – everything that luxury hasn’t been.

“Luxury is trying to catch up. In eight years, these kids will be their consumers. They have eight years to change their ways.”

Ruth O’Connor is a journalist writing for Ireland’s top publications on fashion, design, craft, trends and business for the past 13 years. She graduated from University College Dublin in 1998 with a first class honours degree in English. She then studied pattern cutting and fashion design later going on to obtain a first class honours degree in journalism from Dublin City University in 2006 where her final thesis was an exploration of fashion in Ireland. @ruthoconnorsays

Categories
product technology Uncategorized

Zac Posen 3D-prints celebrity looks at this year’s Met Gala

Zac Posen used 3D printing techniques to create four custom outfits for celebrities attending the annual Met Gala yesterday, including two gowns and two accessory pieces.

Jourdan Dunn and Nina Dobrev wore dresses that were 3D printed using their exact body measurements; Deepika Padukone wore 3D printed embroidery on her design; while Katie Holmes and Julia Garner were outfitted with 3D printed accessories.

Posen collaborated with GE Additive and Protolabs for 12 months to design, engineer and print the concepts respectively, for the Costume Institute’s annual event at New York’s Metropolitan Museum.

“We flew to Pittsburgh to see a printing facility, and learned about plastics and polymers and polyamides and all these different materials,” Posen explained to CNBC. “Then I started to learn with different materials what was possible, what’s not possible. And really the answer is, almost everything is possible.”

The custom dresses took a long time to create especially, he explained, with multiple versions being designed and improved upon over the course of the year. Both gowns were fitted exactly to the wearer’s body, using body scanning technology that took up to an hour of standing still each.

Jourdan Dunn’s rose-petal gown took over 1,100 hours to print and finish. The dress is made up of 21 individual durable plastic petals that are fastened together through a titanium cage. Every batch of three petals took up to five days to print.

For Nina Dobrev’s translucent mini dress, 200 hours were spent on the bustier alone – one of the four pieces that made up the dress. To give the dress a glassy appearance, it was then sanded and sprayed with a clear coat, going through two iterations before it was deemed transparent enough by Posen. The final dress was assembled in New York ahead of the Gala, requiring five people to put the bustier onto Dobrev due to its extremely delicate nature.

Katie Holmes and actress Julia Garner wore 3D printed accessories; a collar and a headpiece, which took 56 and 22 hours to print and finish respectively. Meanwhile, Deepika Padukone’s gown was embellished with 408 printed 3-D embroidery, which took over 160 hours to print and finish.

The designs were inspired by the idea of capturing natural forms in motion, befitting the “camp” theme of this year’s gala and corresponding museum exhibition, which celebrates all things “artifice and exaggeration”, as interpreted by Susan Sontag in her 1964 essay, Notes on camp.

The technology used for the dresses, as well as Katie Holmes’ headpiece and Deepika Padukone embroidery, is called stereolithography (or SLA), which involves layering very thin pieces of liquid plastic (thinner than a piece of hair) on top of each other. These are then shaped by a laser to take incredibly intricate shapes. The gowns and accessories were manufactured in Protolab facilities in Germany as well as North Carolina.

This year is not the first time the designer has put a focus on using technology to bring innovative new design ideas to life for the gala. In 2016, he made headlines for creating a dress for actress Claire Danes, which glowed in the dark.

How are you thinking about product innovation? We’re all about helping you build innovative integrations and experiences. The Current Global is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology, powered by a network of top startups. Get in touch to learn more


Categories
digital snippets Events sustainability technology

ICYMI: Met Gala, sustainability progress has slowed, fashion’s love affair with podcasts

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

TOP STORIES
  • Capitalising on the Met Gala moment is harder than it looks [BoF]
  • Progress in sustainable fashion has slowed by a third in the past year [Forbes]
  • What’s driving fashion’s love affair with podcasts [Vogue Business]
  • Fashion’s diversity problem has real costs [Vogue Business]
TECHNOLOGY
  • How augmented reality put five Madonnas on stage at once [Engadget]
  • Professor: Total surveillance is the only way to save humanity [Futurism]
  • Delivery robots will soon be allowed on Washington sidewalks [Engadget]
  • Your phone isn’t really spying on your conversations—the truth might be even creepier [Quartz]
  • Forget about artificial intelligence, extended intelligence is the future [Wired]
SUSTAINABILITY & PURPOSE
  • After weeks of protests, UK becomes first country to declare ‘climate emergency’ [ABC]
  • It’s time we ended the ridiculous millennial trend of constantly buying new clothes [Independent]
  • ‘The consumer is pushing them’: How fast-fashion brands are responding to sustainability [Glossy]
  • Indonesia could be the first country to move its capital because of climate change [Global Citizen]
  • Why fashion doesn’t pay fair [BoF]
  • A.P.C. now allows you to exchange old A.P.C. pieces for credit [Highsnobiety]
  • Shunning bad luck, Hong Kong buys into ‘pre-loved’ fashion [Reuters]
  • Forever 21 ‘steals’ anti-fast-fashion art [BBC]
  • H&M stops the presses, shreds its print catalog after 39 years [Sourcing Journal]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Alibaba gets creative with three new Tmall genie speakers [Alizila.com]
  • Why the expansion of Nordstrom Local is important [Forbes]
  • Macys.com tops list of most trafficked retail apparel sites [WWD]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Instagram will now let creators and influencers sell items directly [TechCrunch]
  • How fashion brands are tapping into the exclusive Reddit community [Glossy]
  • Will the future of shopping be livestreamed? [Mobile Marketer]
  • How Instagram transformed the fashion industry [i-D Vice]
  • ‘This is for Men’ – L’Oreal Paris unveils clever ads calling for more women in leadership [The Drum]
  • Gucci and Snapchat offer taste of MET Gala [WWD]
PRODUCT
  • Puma is working on a shoe featuring living microbes [Puma]
  • Allbirds moves away from sneakers with new launch [Fashion United]
BUSINESS
  • The future of Chanel [BoF]
  • Gucci on track to hit €10 billion in 2020 [Vogue Business]
  • Sonia Rykiel enters receivership [WWD]
  • High-end slipper brand Mahabis goes into administration [Independent]
  • Zalando still loss-making but sales and site traffic surge [Fashion Network]
  • Adidas profits climb 17.1% in Q1 [WWD]
  • Jason Wu acquired by Chinese firm Green Harbor [Fashion Network]
  • Valentino is luxury fashion’s fastest-growing company [Vogue Business]
CULTURE
  • The age of political correctness will kill great fashion [Highsnobiety]
  • Maria Grazia Chiuri on her inclusive vision for Christian Dior [Fashion Network]
  • Virgil Abloh is in the midst of backlash for lack of diversity on his Off-White staff [Fashionista]

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
Events technology

Rag & Bone hosts fashion week dinner with AI attendee

NY-based label Rag & Bone explored the relationship between AI and humankind with a fashion week dinner featuring an artificial intelligence system as a special guest.

Titled “A Last Supper” the dinner, which accompanied the launch of the label’s fall 2019 collection in New York this week, saw guests sitting around a U-shaped table while having their conversations and actions filmed and analysed by a number of cameras. This was then fed in real-time into an AI system, referred to as “Distinguished Guest.”

Towards the end of the night, words and phrases used by guests were transformed into a piece of work displayed on a screen in front of their eyes, in the voice of musician Thom Yorke which was recorded prior to the event.

Guests, which included celebrities such as actors Emma Roberts and Justin Theroux, were further immersed in the experience with a dance performance choreographed by Damien Jalet, while the food menu was developed by chef Ignacio Mattos.

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about helping you build innovative integrations and experiences. The Current Global is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology, powered by a network of top startups. Get in touch to learn more. 

Categories
Editor's pick product Retail

Chanel’s new beauty wonderland invites fans to slow down and discover


Chanel has launched a new beauty retail concept in NYC where it is inviting fans to discover and play with the line’s range through interactive experiences that encourages them to slow down. The store, called Atelier Beauté Chanel, offers trial experiences as well as appointment-only events and services, such as makeup lessons, with the brand’s artists-in-residence.

Upon entering the store, guests are given personal lockers to keep their belongings in, so they are free to browse the displays. They are then prompted to create a personal profile on their phones in order to keep track of the items they have tried and liked. This profile will also allow them to book for other one-to-one experiences in the future.

Sinks for hand and face washing are also available at the store entrance, further setting a tone: this is not a place where clients are encouraged to rush in and rush out.

The space is heavy on experiences, such as encountering a mysterious black door labeled “Atelier Parfum Chanel”. Guests must make a reservation to visit this space, which is a no-spray counter where they are invited to blindly sniff scented porcelain testers labeled with numbers instead of names. It’s an exciting way to discover a scent without being influenced by the color of the perfume or the design of the bottle, but simply its smell. It’s also a great way to step outside the box of feminine and masculine labels: according to Chanel’s perfume expert, most women choose a men’s fragrance and vice-versa.

At the perfume bar, clients save the numbers of the scents they like through the mobile website. After they’re done, the site reveals the names of the fragrances and saves their order. Guests leave with a doubled-C branded bracelet dipped in their preferred scent to take home.

Atelier Beauté Chanel

Other experiences in-store further push the discovery of the label’s makeup and skincare ranges. At the makeup area, counters are divided by different areas of the face. For example “Skin Enhances” for foundation and concealers, and “Eye Definers” for mascaras, eyeliners, shadows and brow products. A lip bar is by far the most visually appealing, as it displays lipstick pigments on a wall not too dissimilar from an upmarket paint store.

Meanwhile over at the skincare counter, store associates are on hand to talk customers through their personal skincare routines. Customers are then offered two different sample packages to purchase, varying by length of the routine they hope to achieve. Once the customer is happy with their purchase at home, the purchase price can be redeemed against store credit to buy any full-size foundation or skincare products on Chanel.com

As brands strive to become increasingly digitised and push for convenience at their retail spaces, Atelier Beauté Chanel proves the opposite. Here, slow luxury still has plenty of room to play and engage with an audience that is craving experiences that allow them to take a minute and wander.

How are you thinking about retail 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
Editor's pick Retail Uncategorized

The future of retail is collaboration, says Story’s Rachel Shechtman

If the future of retail could be summed up in one word, it is collaboration, says Story founder and Macy’s brand experience officer Rachel Schechtman. Speaking at a panel chaired by Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette at NRF’s Big Show in New York today, Shechtman outlined how she is translating her successful retail concept to the American company 18 months into the new role, with a key focus on curation and scalability.

Working with such a large legacy retailer comes with a different set of challenges, but for Shechtman, it is important to retain the parameters that she applies to her successful NY-based concept, where its theme and product assortment changes every six weeks. Collaboration for her isn’t ever about simply merchandise, but rather strategic partnerships that become part of the storytelling Story has become known for.

When choosing a partner, she asks three questions: will this partner add authority and authenticity to the category in which they exist? Do they create a product that is relevant to a subset of men, women or children? And lastly, do they like them? The latter might sound simple, but when doing things that are pushing the envelope, it is important to have affinity with who you’re working with, she says.

There is no one-size-fits-all mentality to her approach, however, and the most important litmus test is: are customers receiving an experience the they cannot get on their couch? Focusing on strong staff training and visual merchandising allows the retailer to create a story around the product which will undoubtably lure the customer into the physical space, she says.

Shechtman has been attending the Macy’s university, she says, since beginning her new role, understanding how the brand’s culture and DNA affects the retail experience. Her in-house team is focused on three main strategies in order to translate the success that Story has achieved, but at a much wider scale. Firstly, they are looking at how to show up differently for their customers, presented within a Macy’s environment, both by testing and creating new processes. Secondly, engaging with 300+ colleagues within the organization and allowing them to become co-creators of this new experience in order to make it sustainable and scalable in the long run. Lastly is the important piece of partnerships, and how to maintain that value proposition when working with a company that has millions of social followers and store windows all over the country.

With internet democratisation and customer needs changing, collaboration and learning from what other businesses can offer is the way forward, concludes Shechtman. It’s about always thinking strategically about who you work with, and what the end result means for the customer experience.

How are you thinking about retail 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 Campaigns Editor's pick product Retail technology Uncategorized

3 media companies investing in physical retail stores

In a bid to make money beyond ad revenue while raising brand awareness, editorial companies including Buzzfeed, New York Magazine and Good Housekeeping all recently launched physical retail stores in the US.  

Merging content and commerce has long been a topic of discussion within the industry, both from how brands are thinking about their editorial voice, and – in this instance – how media businesses are monetizing their content prowess.

That’s meant all manner of e-commerce entities especially, but numerous experiments in the space have been met with mixed results. NET-A-PORTER may have nailed how to do content both online and offline, for instance, but Style.com in return flopped at the first hurdle when it shifted to a commerce model.

Others however have steamed ahead and found legs in this space balancing both angles. Marie Claire’s beauty store, Fabled, launched in 2016 and continues with a successful online and brick-and-mortar store in London.

Read on to find out how Buzzfeed, New York Magazine and Good Housekeeping are similarly thinking about physical retail experiences in order to capture consumer attention.

Buzzfeed’s Camp

Online news and media outlet Buzzfeed opened a toy shop called Camp in December. Located in the Flatiron District of New York, the space also has an experiential area that’s ready for Instagram-worthy photos. With rotating decor that changes every few months, ‘Summer camp’ is the first theme chosen for the store. Think of a “campitheater”: a sports field, a dance hall, some real bunks, a radio lab, and even s’mores ice cream sundaes by Milk Bar.

Good Housekeeping GH Popup shop
Good Housekeeping GH Popup shop

Good Housekeeping ‘s GH Lab pop-up

Good Housekeeping magazine opened a three-month pop-up at the Mall of America in Minneapolis that capitalized on the busy holiday shopping period by running until December 30. Called “GH Lab”, the store offered only one item per product category. Unlike regular retailers that sell several brands of the same item, each pick was tested and recommended by experts from the GH Institute. The shoppable showroom had more than 40 curated products, and most of them had earned the Good Housekeeping Seal, which provides buyers with a two-year limited warranty guaranteed by the magazine.

The store was cashless, with all merchandise shoppable through Amazon’s app and its SmileCode scanner. Shoppers used their smartphone’s camera to scan a code that went straight to Good Housekeeping’s Amazon seller page where they could place an order for home delivery.

The New Yorker Strategist popup
New York Magazine’s The Strategist popup

New York Magazine’s The Strategist

The Strategist, New York Magazine’s product recommendation site, also opened its first pop-up for the month of December, this time in Soho, New York. The store curated beauty brands and products, including haircare, bed sheets, and self-care products. The space also hosted events, including a beauty panel with The Cut’s beauty director Kathleen Hou, and offered workshops and free blowouts.

With so many other publishers playing in the product review and recommendation field, Camila Cho, General Manager of e-commerce for New York Media, said the pop-up was an opportunity to raise brand awareness. “Offline allows more flexibility to showcase our brand personality and how we are different,” said Cho in an interview for Fipp.

How are you thinking about interactive retail experiences? 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
Retail technology

CoverGirl’s new tech-enabled flagship focuses on discovery and personalization

Covergirl
CoverGirl

Makeup brand CoverGirl’s new Times Square store in New York is encouraging shoppers to immerse themselves in an experiential playground with tech-enabled experiences that include a virtual greeter and AR glam stations.

The store, which is the first under the brand’s new “I am what I make up” philosophy, is designed to be a shared beauty experience, where consumers are encouraged to discover, try on and express themselves through makeup in several different ways.

“We can’t wait to open our doors to the public and let our fellow CoverGirls in to play and to ‘make up’ what CoverGirl means to them,” says Coty’s Consumer Beauty CMO Ukonwa Ojo. “The CoverGirl flagship represents this incredible moment in beauty – where rich experiences matter most and where true self-expression and experimentation are the only beauty standards.”

Upon entering the store, customers are greeted by Olivia, an AI virtual greeter powered by Google’s Dialogflow that can answer questions, share beauty trends or simply direct customers to their desired products. A try-on station allows shoppers to pick up a lipstick or eyeshadow from a tray and have it automatically overlaid onto their faces via augmented reality mirrors, similar to Coty’s Bourjois boutique that opened in Paris earlier this year; to provide the personalization that consumers crave, another station allows them to customize a lipstick and/or makeup bag; lastly, in-store staff, or CoverGirl BFFs, will be on hand to provide advice, tricks and recommendations.

The store’s design has also been developed with the young beauty consumer in mind, with every corner providing a selfie-ready backdrop that allows shoppers to share their looks and shopping experiences.

Being that the new flagship is at one of the world’s busiest areas for footfall, it will be open daily from 10am until midnight.

Increasingly, beauty brands are deploying augmented reality to further engage with a consumer who is prone for interaction. Beyond Coty’s new Bourjois and CoverGirl stores, this year L’Oréal also announced the introduction of digital beauty assistants that use AR to show consumers looks via video on the NYX app.

How are you thinking about retail innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. TheCurrent is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

Categories
Editor's pick mobile Retail Uncategorized

Nike’s new flagship empowers customers with seamless, unmanned shopping experience

Nike's new NYC flagship
Nike’s new NYC flagship

Nike’s new NYC flagship unlocks a new level of convenience by allowing customers to navigate the shopping experience in-store entirely on their phones, using the brand’s existing app.

Shoppers at the 5th Avenue store, called House of Innovation 000, can use the app throughout their entire visit and have a completely unmanned experience if they wish to do so. This includes using the “Scan to Try” feature that lets customers scan QR codes on products to get them sent to the fitting room for try on; “Shop the Look”, where a QR code will bring up a mannequin’s entire outfit, which the customer can order through their phone for home delivery; and most importantly, a self-checkout feature where the shopper can pay seamlessly through their phones on services like Apple Pay and PayPal.

Future retail locations around the globe will follow the same concept, blurring the lines between physical and digital.

Customers at home can even reserve shoes online to try on in real life. In this case, the items are placed in a locker with the person’s name on, which they can then unlock with their phones once in-store. The area has its own entrance, so shop-goers can be in and out in a matter of minutes.

The six-storey building also offers multiple environments built around specific needs, such as The Speed Shop, which has all the brand’s most popular items ready to buy; The Arena, a customization area where shoppers can order shoes in whatever color they want; and the Nike Expert Studio, offering one-on-one appointments with stylists.

Nike's new NYC flagship
Nike’s new NYC flagship

In addition to the digital and personalization features, the design of the store is modular, with walls that can be moved using a grid system. In as little as a day, it is possible to adapt the store into a completely different setup for a special event.

Nike’s first hybrid concept store opened earlier this year in Los Angeles as a lab for testing new retail ideas. After tracking members who had visited the store, they gathered that customers spent 30% more online later than those who didn’t have the in-person experience. Meanwhile in October, the brand also opened a similar concept in Shanghai where it has reported it is signing up a new member to the official app every two minutes.

In creating an entirely unmanned experience but still offering customers opportunities for personalization and interaction, Nike is striking a balance between two very different consumer speeds: convenience and experience.

How are you thinking about retail innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. TheCurrent is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.