e-commerce Editor's pick social media technology

Snapchat allows users to snap a product and buy it on Amazon

Snapchat x Amazon
Snapchat x Amazon

Snapchat has introduced a new feature that allows users to snap photos of physical objects and buy them directly on Amazon.

The initiative will allow any user within the app to photograph an object or its barcode, to bring up a card showcasing similar products available to buy on the e-commerce giant, along with their price, an image, an average review score and Prime availability. Selecting a card will send the user to the Amazon app or website to complete the purchase.

In a rare partnership for Amazon, the two entities are working closely together to ensure the journey is seamless from beginning to end – when the user photographs or scans a code, Snapchat determines what action is taking place, while Amazon then deploys image vision technology to recognize logos, artworks or any unique identifying marks on the item.

Social media platforms are upping the ante when it comes to arming consumers with the tools to purchase at the point of discovery. Last week, Instagram announced shopping capabilities to its Stories and Explore pages by launching shoppable tags and curated product selections. Pinterest on the other hand, has recently expanded its “Shop the Look” pins to all businesses, allowing any brand to create shoppable posts on the platform.

How are you thinking about visual search? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners for your innovation strategy. 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.

e-commerce Retail technology

Forever 21 introduces AI visual search to online shopping

Forever 21
Forever 21

Forever 21 has introduced an AI-enabled feature that will allow consumers to engage with visual search when browsing online.

The feature, titled “Discover your style”, allows shoppers to search for items by clicking on icons that represent features that they want in an outfit – such as length or fit of a skirt, or the neckline and color of a shirt. For this launch, the fast fashion retailer worked with visual search experts Donde Search, whose recommendation algorithm aims to mimic how shoppers think about products.

“Visual search technology bridges the gap between the convenience of online shopping and the rich discovery experience of traditional retail by enabling our customers to search for clothing in the same way they think about it—using visuals, not words,” says Alex Ok, president of Forever 21. “Early data shows that this is one of the most important innovations in the e-commerce space in recent years.”

The functionality debuted in the Forever 21 iOS app in May and was initially available for the dresses and tops categories. However, within the first month of launching the feature, the brand saw a 20% increase in average purchase value for the two test categories, as well as an increase in sales conversions.

Forever 21's "Discover your style" feature
Forever 21’s “Discover your style” feature

“As e-commerce’s share of retail sales continues to grow, it’s more important than ever that retailers use a universal language that both shoppers and merchandisers can understand,” says Liat Zakay, CEO and founder of Donde Search.

There are many benefits to introducing visual search alongside more traditional text, but according to the brand, the functionality also helps retailers remove any local language barriers associated with the latter.

Allowing consumers to search visually also enables them to manifest more subtle likes and dislikes when searching for garments, which is something major brands and retailers have been experimenting with for years. Last year, for instance, ASOS introduced a visual search functionality that allows people to upload images to display similar items for sale on the site.

How are you thinking about visual search? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners for your innovation strategy. 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.

business Campaigns digital snippets e-commerce product Retail sustainability technology

ICYMI: Fashion embracing AI, how Apple is using AR, breaking down Gucci’s innovation model

AI in fashion - artificial intellgence
AI in fashion

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

  • How fashion should (and shouldn’t) embrace artificial intelligence [BoF]
  • How Apple will use AR to reinvent the human-computer interface [Fast Company]
  • Breaking down the Gucci-inspired ‘innovation model’ that’s taking over Kering [Glossy]
  • In fashion’s hype-driven era, Hermès is doing its own thing [Dazed]
  • Blockchain, Internet of Things and AI: What the newest luxury startup accelerators are investing in [Glossy]
  • What really goes into a fashion sustainability ranking & how brands game the system [TheFashionLaw]
  • Millennials say they care about sustainability. So, why don’t they shop this way? [BoF]
  • Report: Levi’s is ‘all talk and no action’ on sustainability [Glossy]
  • Beauty brands are finding innovative ways to reduce packaging waste [Fashionista]
  • The young designers pioneering a sustainable fashion revolution [Vogue]
  • TheRealReal, Stella McCartney flaunt high-fashion recycling [MediaPost]
  • Is video the future of online shopping? [BoF]
  • Amazon will now deliver packages to the trunk of your car [TheVerge]
  • Fast fashion’s biggest threat is faster fashion [BoF]
  • Outdoor Voices uses AR to launch OV Trail Shop running collection [FashionNetwork]
  • Oakley forgives you (even if others don’t) in this lovely ode to athletic obsession [AdWeek]
  • Adidas Originals traded pieces from Alexander Wang’s new collection to get to Coachella [AdWeek]
  • Disney made a jacket to simulate physical experiences, like a snake slithering across your body [TheVerge]
  • Adidas is testing how to mass-produce custom shoes like those it makes for elite athletes [Quartz]
  • Balenciaga issues second apology after claims of discrimination against Chinese shoppers [Reuters]
  • Sephora’s lawsuit with obsessive compulsive cosmetics is a staggering case study in how beauty products are sold [Racked]
Editor's pick Retail technology

Zara to launch AR experience across flagship stores globally

Zara AR experience
Zara AR experience

Zara is set to launch an AR experience that will enable in-store customers to hold their phones up and see models come to life on their screens. Launching on April 18, the feature will be available on Zara’s shopping app and be triggered when shoppers are located at one of its 120 flagships globally.

Pictures released by the retailer show that in-store AR prompts will be featured on window and mannequin displays, encouraging shoppers to hold their phones up with phrases such as “Shop the Look”. The functionality will also allow customers at home to hover their phones over Zara delivery packages to reveal visuals.

Zara AR experience
Zara AR experience

The initiative is part of a large drive to place Zara at the heart of the digital revolution in retail. In January, the retailer’s owner, Inditex, revealed its future-facing plan to tackle consumers’ ever-changing demands under a “four pillars of retail” strategy, one of which is focused on technology and enabling consumers to move seamlessly across platforms.

This preceded the launch of Zara’s tech-enabled pop-up in London, as well as the announcement that the retailer will start using automated kiosks in-store and robots behind the scenes in order to accelerate the click & collect process.

e-commerce mobile

Hearst introduces shoppable Amazon SmileCodes to print publications

Amazon's SmileCodes in Seventeen magazine
Amazon’s SmileCodes in Seventeen magazine

Hearst has unveiled a deal with Amazon to place scannable SmileCodes on Cosmopolitan and Seventeen magazines, allowing readers to purchase straight from its pages.

Amazon’s SmileCodes are branded QR codes that link to sales pages and other content when scanned using the Amazon app. With the Hearst partnership, codes will be placed alongside selected items that once scanned, lead readers to the item on dedicated Cosmo and Seventeen stores on

Customers can also access the online stores directly, where the publications will launch a “See, Love, Shop!” storefront that is updated monthly to correspond to the print publishing schedule.

“Amazon offers a wide selection of products, fast and free shipping options and low prices, and by teaming up we will be providing Cosmopolitan and Seventeen readers the opportunity to ‘see, love, and shop’ the products our editors showcase and they covet,” said Donna Kalajian Lagani, senior vice president and publishing director of Cosmopolitan and Seventeen. “We are using the latest technology to create a new instant and interactive experience moving our readers down the purchase funnel.”

Items are selected either by the magazines’ editorial teams or exist within ads by selected brands. They will range from categories such as beauty, fashion, wellness and books. So far partners include beauty and personal care brands like Olay, Neutrogena and Cover Girl. To further spotlight “See, Love, Shop!”, the magazines will also be posting shoppable listicles on their websites and promoting certain selections via social media.

Amazon SmileCodes has so far been running as a pilot in Europe, but the Hearst deal marks its official US debut. The online giant has vouched to promote new storefronts, which in turn will likely help promote its SmileCodes feature.

Editor's pick mobile technology

Augmented reality is set to transform fashion and retail

Burberry's augmented reality integration in its iOS 11 app
Burberry’s augmented reality integration in its iOS 11 app

“At some point, we’re going to look back and think, how did we not have a digital layer on the physical world,” Greg Jones, director of VR and AR at Google, said at Shoptalk Europe earlier this month.

The role of augmented reality (AR) is set to be transformative, he argued, and that’s particularly the case when it’s applied to retail.

Those words were echoed in an interview with Apple CEO, Tim Cook, published by Vogue magazine around the same time, in which he said he believes AR will impact everything from runway shows to shopping. “Over time, I think [these features] will be as key as having a website,” he commented.

The fact is both Apple and Google are facilitating this happening. While AR has been around for many years, 2017 will be marked as the beginning of mass consumer uptake, thanks to the smartphone integration we’re starting to see.

The introduction of Apple’s ARkit, a developer platform for augmented reality, and the subsequent launch of iOS 11, which hosts it, has paved the way on iPhones and iPads. Google’s ARcore meanwhile, brings the same to Android.

Consumer adoption follows the fact users have long been playing in this space – they know what AR is by the filters they put on their faces on Snapchat, or the characters they’ve chased around the streets using Pokémon Go.

The difference now, is having this utility integrated in a multitude of other apps on their phones; making it a second nature experience to add that digital layer to everything they are doing. Head over to Forbes to read the full story, including the fashion and retail brands already jumping on board.

e-commerce Uncategorized

Google’s ‘Checkout’ video

I was just directed towards this great video from Google demonstrating the complexity of online shopping. In it, a man aims to buy a loaf of bread while the checkout attendant puts all sorts of obstacles in his way.

The aim is to encourage e-tailers to find out where their customers are “checking out” via Google Analytics.

Take a look below: