Categories
product technology

bPay partners with seven watch brands to introduce contactless payments

bPay contactless payment technology
bPay contactless payment technology

bPay, the wearable technology solution from Barclays bank, has announced partnerships with seven watch brands – GUESS Watches, Mondaine, Timex, Kronaby, Suunto, ADEXE and LBS – to embed payment technology into traditional timepieces and fitness trackers.

The new watches will be showcased at this year’s watch and jewellery trade show, Baselworld, this week in Switzerland.

Launches include six new contactless watches by Guess; eight new styles for both men and women from Timex; LBS will be launching the ‘TapStrap’, a contactless payment strap that can be fitted to any watch with the most common strap sizes; and Suunto, which specializes in sports watches, will create a bPay-enhanced fitness style launching this spring.

“Consumer appetite for wearable payments is reaching critical mass, and we’re proud to be meeting this growing demand with the help of our industry-leading partners,” says Adam Herson, business development director of Barclays Mobile Payments. “Thanks to the range of products these agreements will bring to market, customers will be able to buy a watch or fitness tracker that not only suits their taste, but also unlocks benefits of speed and ease in everyday purchases.”

Recent data from Barclaycard’s Contactless Spending Index shows that spending via bPay surged by 129% year-on-year in 2017. The company claims ‘touch and go’ contactless payments save seven seconds per transaction when compared to chip and PIN.

Since 2015, bPay has been patterning with then UK-based fashion brands on bringing payment technology to accessories, such as launching a line of accessories with Topshop. For more on payment technology, listen to our episode of TheCurrent Innovators podcast with Alipay’s Souheil Badran.

Categories
Editor's pick Podcast

Gadi Amit on designing human-led wearables that evoke connections

Gadi Amit & Liz Bacelar
Gadi Amit & Liz Bacelar

In an increasingly digital world, designing physical products that are genuinely useful and evoke an emotion from the consumer, is a tough challenge, according to Gadi Amit, president and principal designer at NewDealDesign, on the latest episode of TheCurrent Innovators.

With tech’s fast-moving evolution comes a need to design objects that are sustainable and desirable, he highlights in his conversation with Liz Bacelar. Best known as the designer behind the original FitBit wearable device, Amit thinks technology is still very much about utility, but that pioneers such as Apple’s Steve Jobs and Jony Ive have ignited change. Consumers are now becoming increasingly accustomed to technology pervading many aspects of their lives, and as a result are looking for objects that enhance their personal experiences by creating deeper connections, he says.

When developing a successful wearable product, for instance, brands need to look beyond designing status-seeking elements to ask basic questions, such as: “What does it do for you? How does it enhance your life?”, says Amit. He reiterates that an object’s uniqueness lies in its true experiential value, and not just the label.

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

For luxury, an industry that has struggled to enter the fast-moving market of digital technologies while retaining its products’ values of longevity, Amit suggests starting with the values of the brand first, and building the technology that speaks to it.

For fashion the 2014 wearable boom was short-lived, as the market became overcrowded with products that consumer demand didn’t respond to. Although Amit thinks this is partly because devices lacked uniqueness, this is also due to the fact that wearables are so difficult to design, he explains. He particularly contradicts a common notion in the fashion industry that technology within wearables should be made to be invisible – from a usability standpoint, there are always design elements that need to prioritize function over aesthetics, he comments.

“Wearables are different animals, they’re not accessories in fashion. This is a piece of technology that needs to be on the human body, and therefore needs to be designed appropriately,” he concludes.

Scrip
Scrip

The self-confessed “contrarian by nature” is tackling payments next, an industry that historically champions frictionless and simplified interactions. Research around how exchanging physical currency affects behaviors and creates subconscious connections led him to design a new device called Scrip. This induces friction by asking the user to swipe at it a few times in order to share digital currency, meaning users make more conscious spending decisions.

It acts as a cashpoint in the user’s pocket, in which its tangibility plays a key role in triggering neural functions that automated payment systems like Apple Pay have hindered. In designing Scrip, Amit explains that it taps into the need to create objects that perfectly combine function and aesthetics in such a way that its owners will never render it obsolete.

Catch up with all of our episodes of TheCurrent Innovators here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by TheCurrent, 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.

Categories
e-commerce Editor's pick mobile Podcast

Alipay on educating US consumers with a unified payment experience

TheCurrent Innovators: Souheil Badran with Liz Bacelar
TheCurrent Innovators: Souheil Badran with Liz Bacelar

Chinese payments company Alipay is on a mission to wean US consumers off traditional payment behaviours. Creating an integrated experience is at the center of making that happen, Alipay’s president of the Americas, Souheil Badran, explained to Liz Bacelar on the latest episode of TheCurrent Innovators podcast.

“So far the whole US market has been so used to credit cards. And when you look at it from a tech perspective all the apps we use are in their own silos. They’re not connected at all,” says Badran, explaining that the Starbucks app is one of the few examples of an integrated experience based around the consumer’s lifestyle.

In order to achieve seamlessness, Badran hopes to see better collaboration with retail in what he calls the Uber experience – when getting from point A to B, the user no longer has to think about the payment aspect of it.

This everyday ease of use is already being achieved in China, where Alipay’s 520 million users have access to over 60 sub-applications integrated under the payment umbrella, creating a lifestyle ecosystem within the digital wallet that includes the ability to do things like pay peers and order a taxi.

But going beyond payments to create a larger sense of loyalty in this way in the US, means educating the consumers out of their comfort zone of just payments, Badran adds. “[Starting with the consumer], what are they looking for? What would make you go from just using your credit card, and what would attract you back to the app on a regular basis?”

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

Badran wants to see Alipay reach the same level of interaction in the US, as it has achieved in Asia. Current users check their digital wallets 15-20 times a day, for instance. He hopes US consumers can get to that point, in the same way they already do with their social media channels. This would include creating experience-led features and promotions based on purchase history and other aggregated data, he notes.

Chinese Alipay consumers are also a big market for US retailers, which Badran has been working hard to evangelize on their value. “Back in 2013 when you talked about China in general, people understood the size, but couldn’t quite grasp the value of it. I have seen a tremendous shift over the last 12 months and hopefully it will continue to grow.” To target these users, Alipay is working with retailers in the US and Europe to ensure payment capabilities and promotions that intensify around peak travel seasons, such as Chinese New Year.

For millennial consumers, Alipay helps quickly build user credibility by leveraging data from previous purchases. This means a merchant that accepts the payment service can have visibility of the user’s track record, says Badran. He uses the example of purchasing at a luxury store, where Alipay can potentially extend the shopper’s credit on the fly – unlike a static credit card limit – depending on data such as previous repayments.

At present, over 150,000 merchants in North America accept Alipay as a form of payment. The future looks bright for the mammoth Asian company as it taps into the digital need for always-on convenience, as well as a demand for platforms that enable personalization and experience.

Catch up with all of our episodes of TheCurrent Innovators here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by TheCurrent, 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.

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

What you missed: overhauled trade deals, Shulman steps down from Vogue, automation in fashion

Iris van Herpen's SS17 couture show / what you missed - overhauled trade deals, Shulman steps down from Vogue, automation in fashion
Iris van Herpen’s SS17 couture show

Donald Trump’s first week as President has been quite something… for this industry, it’s the overhaul on trade deals particularly to keep an eye on, as outlined by Bloomberg below. Elsewhere, the past seven days have been all about British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman stepping down, through to lots more in the way of technical detail from the couture shows in Paris.

Also worth reading is the BoF’s piece on automation, a view on what the store of the future looks like now we have Amazon Go, and the unveiling of the first dress made with graphene.


TOP STORIES
  • Nike and Ford caught in crossfire of Trump’s trade overhaul [Bloomberg]
  • British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman steps down [Vogue]
  • How automation is reshaping fashion [BoF]
  • Iris van Herpen uses visual trickery for latest couture collection [Dezeen]
  • How the retail industry can prepare for the Fourth Industrial Revolution [Medium]

BUSINESS
  • As Trump pushes for U.S. manufacturing, ‘Made in America’ is losing its lustre in the fashion world [LA Times]
  • Warby Parker to open 25 stores this year, co-CEO says [WSJ]
  • Why Macy’s is closing even profitable stores [Fool]

SOCIAL MEDIA
  • How 5 UK brands are using Instagram Stories [Digiday]
  • Dior serialises Bella Hadid-fronted beauty content to retain youth interest [Luxury Daily]

MARKETING
  • H&M launches latest recycling campaign with Bring It On film [The Industry]
  • New Balance aims for inspiration with time capsule initiative [Retail Dive]
  • Cosmopolitan launches influencer network with River Island as first client [Campaign]

RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • What does the store of the future look like now we have Amazon Go? [Guardian]
  • The demise of the department store experience [AdAge]
  • Shoppers now expect personalisation to extend to the store: study [Internet Retailing]
  • Get closer to the single customer view – by connecting online and offline data [The Drum]
  • E-commerce: Next day delivery is the “new norm” [The Industry]
  • Amazon puts virtual Dash buttons on its homepage [Techcrunch]

TECHNOLOGY
  • CFDA collaborates with Accenture on tech integration initiative [WWD]
  • First dress made with graphene unveiled in the UK [Guardian]
  • Is this sewing robot the future of fashion? [Fast Company]
  • Starbucks Japan partners with fashion brand for contactless payments [BrandChannel]

START-UPS
  • Vestiaire Collective raises $62 million in pursuit of online luxury resale world domination [Fashionista]
Categories
business data digital snippets e-commerce mobile social media sustainability technology

What you missed: Gap’s AR dressing room app, smart hairbrushes, Brexit’s impact on fashion

Gap's AR dressing room app with Google
Gap’s AR dressing room app with Google

Happy New Year and welcome to 2017… may it be a fortuitous one for all of us; the industry at large included. On that note, here’s a wrap up of everything you might have missed over the holidays and this past week, from new tech at CES to lots of thoughts on what to expect in the market throughout this year.

Also worth checking out is an interview on sustainability with Kering’s François-Henri Pinault, a deep-dive on all things WeChat (seriously a must-read), and an exploration of the worker robots hitting Japan. If you haven’t seen it, don’t forget to also check out our list of the 8 tech trends that will shape fashion and luxury retail in 2017.


TOP STORIES
  • Google moves into augmented reality shopping with BMW and Gap [Bloomberg]
  • L’Oréal launches smart hairbrush at CES: a bargain at $189? [AdAge]
  • How Brexit will impact fashion in 2017 [BoF]
  • The future of fashion is mushroom leather – Kering’s François-Henri Pinault on sustainability [Bloomberg]
  • Why Alexander Wang’s Adidas collection was sold in unmarked trucks and trash bags [Co.Create]
  • Selfridges unveils new plan to promote sustainable fashion [Dazed]

BUSINESS
  • In 2017’s “new normal,” luxury brands will have to work a lot harder to sell their pricey goods [QZ]
  • For the Trumps, ‘Made in USA’ may be a tricky label to stitch [NY Times]
  • Macy’s to cut more than 10,000 jobs and close 68 stores [AP]
  • Carolina Herrera is suing Oscar de la Renta over hiring of Monse designer [Hollywood Reporter]
  • Expect more store closings despite big holiday sales [USA Today]

SOCIAL MEDIA
  • How social cash made WeChat the app for everything [Fast Company]
  • Snapchat, Facebook or Instagram: who is winning the social media shopping race? [BoF]
  • #Prada365: The brand’s new social, advertising strategy [TheFashionLaw]
  • 5 ways Snapchat Spectacles will affect influencer marketing in 2017 [AdWeek]
  • How fashion publishers are experimenting with Instagram Live [Glossy]
  • Here’s a timeline showing Instagram and Snapchat’s 2016 war over the best features [AdWeek]
  • Infographic: How millennials and baby boomers consume user-generated content [AdWeek]

RETAIL
  • Here come ‘smart stores’ with robots, interactive shelves [AP]
  • How tech drove retailer turnaround efforts in 2016 [Retail Dive]
  • Harrods incorporates in-store navigation tool in latest app update [LuxuryDaily]
  • The internet goes IRL at ModCloth’s new store [Racked]
  • What everyone will be buzzing about at NRF Retail’s BIG Show 2017 [IBM]

TECHNOLOGY
  • Japanese white-collar workers are already being replaced by artificial intelligence [QZ]
  • Amazon patent reveals its drone-deploying flying warehouse plan [Engadget]
  • Cross-border payment technology creates global opportunities [WWD]
  • Wearables gradually move beyond the wrist, and into hearts and minds (literally) [CNBC]
  • Shiseido Group invests in beauty technologies to maintain competitive edge [LuxuryDaily]
Categories
Editor's pick technology

Rebecca Minkoff introduces self-checkout for millennial shoppers

Rebecca Minkoff's new self-checkout
Rebecca Minkoff’s new self-checkout

New York-based designer Rebecca Minkoff has launched a self-checkout option in her Soho store. Partnering with QueueHop to provide the technology, the aim is to ease the shopping experience for the millennial consumer the brand is targeted at.

“More and more we are seeing millennials want to be in complete control of any and all of their shopping, and that includes payment,” said Uri Minkoff, CEO at Rebecca Minkoff. “Long gone are the days where you needed to depend fully on a sales assistant to request new sizes or to ring you up. We needed to continue finding ways to make her feel like she can have multiple experiences.”

Part of that move is to protect a certain level of anonymity so highly regarded by supposed millennials, according to Minkoff. The QueueHop system comes with an RFID tag that brings the item up for payment on an iPad and an anti-theft device that only unlocks after that exchange is made. That means there is literally no need to speak to or deal with a sales associate at all if so desired, much like the online shopping experience feels.

As Minkoff told Fast Company: “When we were going through our initial technology layout, we took on the view that the millennial consumer either wanted to be treated like a celebrity—a VIP with full service—or anonymously. [We wondered] what if they could have the store to themselves after-hours? Or how could you approximate the online shopping experience that you’re checking out by yourself, and it’s very quiet?”

“Is this going to maximize our sales in a huge way? Probably not. Do we have a huge shrinkage [theft] problem? Probably not. But we think it’s important for us to let our customer know that we get her,” he added. He also referred to it as removing the “Pretty Woman moment” – enabling shoppers to no longer feel judged by staff for what they look like and instead enjoy the experience. It’s about letting technology police customers, rather than bias.

The Rebecca Minkoff Soho store also houses the brand’s connected fitting room experience, where users are able to reserve items, as well as change colours, sizing and more through the system, without having to hang their heads out and get a sales associate’s attention.

Categories
mobile technology

Mobile wallets: French shoppers say “non merci”

mobile wallets
The French are becoming avid m-commerce shoppers but they’re less fond of smartphone payments technology

Samsung Pay celebrated its first birthday last month and hit 100m transactions worldwide (from the seven countries in which it was available). But in a world where m-commerce is surging, there still seems to be a lot of consumer resistance to smartphone-based mobile wallets in some countries. That’s despite many shoppers in those countries tapping their debit and credit cards on contactless payment terminals with increasing regularity.

A new survey illustrates this perfectly, It shows that the French are becoming avid m-commerce shoppers but it seems but they’re not too fond of smartphone payments technology.

The survey, by CCM Benchmark and reported by eMarketer.com shows that French shoppers are buying fashion via their smartphones in increasing numbers (34% out of a survey group of 1,000 adult consumers), booking travel (40%), buying cultural items (that’s books and music to you and I, with 33% of respondents buying them), and consumer electronics/household appliances (23%).

They’re also researching on their phones with 65% of them using those phones in-store to check out products and deals and take photos.

But mobile payments? Not so much. The French are saying a big “non!” to smartphone/smartwatch payments at the moment. Most m-commerce transactions in France are still pretty ‘analogue’ with consumers preferring to tap their card details into the checkout form on a website or app.

In fact, only 7% of digital buyers had taken advantage of the ever-increasing number of mobile wallet solutions out there, which is a low number given that m-commerce shoppers might have been expected to be more mobile wallet-friendly than the average online shopper.

Around 27% of respondents did say they were ‘ready’ to use a mobile wallet but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll take action any time soon. And as many as 56% said they weren’t willing to pay that way.

Why is this? Unfortunately, the survey didn’t say. Maybe it’s security concerns, or maybe setting it up in the first place just seems too fiddly.

What often influences take-up of such innovations is a compelling piece of technology that makes it a no-brainer, or another change that drives fast adoption. In the UK, the ability to pay using contactless on London’s cash-free bus system was key for driving people to accept contactless payments in general.

In France, perhaps smartphone and operating system makers hoped their state-of-the-art devices had done enough to become that sort of catalyst. But not so.

At least the problem isn’t global. Those Samsung Pay figures and a survey this summer of 2,000 consumers in the US and UK by mobile engagement specialist Urban Airship, have showed a more favourable outcome for mobile wallets.

Urban Airship said 54% of US/UK consumers had used systems like Apple Pay and also see them as key for staying updated on sales, offers and coupons as well as boosting their interest in loyalty programs. Importantly too, 67% of millennials have used them and they’re also more popular among high-income households.

Perhaps the message from France to Apple, Google, Samsung, and the numerous banks now offering mobile wallet tech isn’t so much “non merci” as “s’il vous plaît être patient!” Maybe they’re just not ready for this giant tech leap forward… yet.

This post first appeared on Trendwalk.net, a style-meets-business blog by journalist, trends specialist and business analyst, Sandra Halliday. 

Categories
mobile product technology

Topshop introduces second bPay wearables collection

Topshop-bpay-wearables
Topshop’s latest bPay accessories line

Topshop has launched a second collection of accessories activated for payments thanks to a partnership with Barclays’ bPay contactless technology.

Hot off the heels of its successful November iteration of bPay wearables, which featured brightly coloured pieces in a monster motif, the new items target a more luxe aesthetic.

The six-piece collection features bracelets, phone cases and robot-themed keyrings in gold metallics and faux snakeskin detailing. The price point comes in slightly higher than the original £15 by dropping stickers from the line and adding in better quality materials. For £25-£35, a shopper can pick up the new wares both in-store or online.

Each accessory holds a small bPay contactless chip, which links to a secure digital wallet. Anyone with a UK Visa or MasterCard debit or credit card (not just Barclays customers) can use it, adding funds via a mobile app or online through the bPay web portal.

The focus is on a quick purchase market – much like competitors Apple and Android Pay – accommodating transactions up to the contactless limit of £30. Keep the device topped up between £5-£200 and it will be accepted anywhere with contactless payment scanners.

Categories
mobile social media technology

Henry Holland’s LCM show instantly shoppable thanks to augmented reality app

House of Holland's augmented reality shopping app in action
House of Holland’s augmented reality shopping app in action

The shoppable runway took on new meaning at House of Holland’s London Collections Men presentation this weekend past, with garments available for purchase straight off the back of models thanks to augmented reality.

The initiative was the result of a partnership between Visa Europe Collab and visual discovery and augmented reality app, Blippar.

Users (in this case Radio One DJ Nick Grimshaw and model Rafferty Law) were able to hold their smartphone in front of the desired garment and tap the screen to activate AR technology that would pull up imagery and information about it. They were then able to instantly check out using a pre-registered and prepaid debit or credit card.

“Being able to scan garments through Blippar and purchase them pretty much off [the model’s] back is an amazing technological development and one I have dreamt of as a consumer and a fashion business owner,” said House of Holland founder, Henry Holland.

Visa Europe Collab co-founder Hendrik Kleinsmiede, commented: “Augmented reality has the potential to be transformative for the retail industry. Imagine a future where you can point your phone at a friend’s new outfit with their permission, only for the app to recognise and source that outfit in your size, and give you the option of having it sent straight to your home.”

Indeed, that idea of being able to capture anyone’s outfit and pull up information about where it’s from has long been an appealing one to shoppers. This aims to take that one step closer to reality (albeit a simpler version by being preloaded with truly accurate data thanks to the fact it’s focused on one brand’s products).

The launch at this point is just a proof-of-concept one – meaning it only existed for the moment of the LC:M show – but the aim is to make the technology available to other retailers on a wider scale later this year. Kleinsmiede added that he hopes this virtual shift in traditional shopping behaviour is something we’ll see on the high street very soon.

This was the second time Henry Holland and Visa Europe have worked together. The two collaborated on a wearable technology project in September 2015 that saw items purchased from the brand’s womenswear show during London Fashion Week using a payment ring.