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Amazon patents virtual changing room app with data-led style recommendations

Amazon is developing a fashion app that will allow consumers to trial outfits in a virtual changing room as avatar versions of themselves.

According to a UK patent filed by the retail giant, the app will mine user data to better provide recommendations on what they might like or need. After opting into data-sharing, users will have different data on their phones analysed, such as social media images of themselves and calendar events. Other information such as the weather where they live and where they like to spend their time will also be taken into consideration.

Images of the users taken from their phones will then be rendered into virtual avatars which will enable them to visualise recommendations. The user can then browse outfits and select likes or dislikes by swiping left or right.

The app will further allow users to discover new items of clothing by accessing different tabs such as “search by look”, “randomise” outfits, and “find more like this.” Wishlists and favorite outfits can then be shared on social media.

In recent years, Amazon has hinted at its ambitions of helping users better dress and shop in the home with a series of devices and patents. In 2017, it introduced the Echo Look which similarly analyses user photos to provide style recommendations; in early 2018, it introduced a patent not too dissimilar from this virtual changing room, where a smart mirror will virtually overlay clothes onto the user and place them in different scenarios; and in May last year, it began 3D scanning users in order to explore the future of fit.

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digital snippets e-commerce social media technology

Digital snippets: Valentino’s Instagram strategy, YNAP and IBM team up, Lacoste’s AR book

Valentino_instagram

Beyond Paris Fashion Week, and on past SXSW, here’s your round-up of the latest fashion and technology stories to know from the month of March…


  • In the age of the algorithm, top Instagram brand Valentino needs to rethink its strategy [Digiday]

  • Yoox Net-a-porter Group, IBM partner on software, tech development [WWD]

  • Lacoste enriches its brand campaign with augmented reality book [PSFK]

  • The North Face to launch insanely smart Watson-powered mobile shopping app next month [Venture Beat]

  • True Religion is equipping its sales staff with Apple watches [Apparel News]

  • ‘It can bottle our energy’: Why Bloomingdale’s is going all in on Snapchat [Digiday]

  • Bloomingdale’s spurs branded conversation through emoji app [Luxury Daily]

  • Why Uniqlo is now selling through mobile shopping app Spring [Fashionista]

  • American Apparel offering on-demand delivery via Postmates partnership [TechCrunch]

  • Alibaba spreads its wings into VR sector [China Daily]

  • L’Oreal creates unbranded content hub to woo beauty fans [AdAge]

  • Net-a-Porter’s digital chief on how brands can get up close and personal to consumers [Marketing Magazine]

  • In the store of the future, your shopping bag connects to the internet [Fast Company]

  • How do you bring personalised shopping technology to stores? Adobe has an idea [Fashionista]

  • More influencers, fewer posts: How Instagram’s algorithm will affect fashion brands [Digiday]

  • In the future, Instagram and Facebook could be amongst the largest retailers online [WWD]

  • To big brands, from a millennial: Snapchat filters are where it’s at [AdAge]

  • How Pinterest knows who’s down to shop and who isn’t [AdAge]

  • Personal shopping services seek scale [BoF]


  • Brotailers market to millennial men who hate to shop [BrandChannel]

  • Venture capitalists: e-commerce funding to tighten [WWD]

  • Flush with tech wealth, San Francisco warms to fashion [BoF]

  • E-commerce in Brazil gets more mobile [eMarketer]

  • FedEx to expand e-commerce reach in China, Japan [WSJ]
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business e-commerce Editor's pick mobile social media

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

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

mobilemessaging

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

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

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

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

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

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

FacebookMessenger

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

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

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

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

StefansHead

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

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

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

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

This post first appeared on Fashionista.com

Categories
digital snippets e-commerce film mobile social media Startups technology

Digital snippets: Asos launches podcast, Burberry’s success on Periscope, Jet hits $1m in first-day sales

A round-up of the latest stories to know about surrounding all things fashion and tech…

asos

  • Asos launches weekly podcast in customer engagement push [Retail Week]
  • Burberry’s Snapchat and Periscope campaigns deliver a record 100m impressions [The Drum]
  • Jet, the new Amazon competitor, hits $1 million in sales on launch day [re/code]
  • Forever 21 launches Instagram-powered thread screen [DigitalBuzzBlog]
  • Nordstrom is making it simple to buy via text message [NRF]
  • Birchbox’s monthly deliveries will give virtual reality a fascinating test run [AdWeek]
  • Katy Perry, Coty launch perfume line with Twitter pop-up shop [AdAge]
  • Victoria’s Secret chatting app ensures instantaneous customer satisfaction [PSFK]
  • LVMH to launch Apple Watch rival [Reuters]
  • Amazon will be the number one US clothing retailer very soon [Bloomberg]
  • Old Navy follows viral hit with another back-to-school music video [AdAge]
  • Rakuten buys virtual fitting room start-up Fits.Me in a fashion commerce play [TechCrunch]
  • E-commerce start-up Tinker Tailor shuts down operations [Fashion Times]
  • Personal shopping app Scratch launches with $3.6 million in funding [Fashionista]
  • Battle of the buy buttons: What does the social commerce hybrid mean for retail brands? [The Drum]
  • The surprising way smartphones are changing the way we shop [The Washington Post]
  • Malte Huffmann of Dafiti on cracking fashion e-commerce in Latin America [BoF]
  • Fashion’s biological future is now [Huffington Post]
  • Programmable clothes are going commercial [Co.design]
  • Apple Watch sales: what we know (and don’t know) [WSJ]
  • Pebble boss: ‘one day, people will not be able to live without their smartwatch’ [The Guardian]
  • Does Ringly have a place in an Apple Watch world? [TechCrunch]
  • Vogue launches Alexa Chung fashion documentary series, crowdsources questions [Vogue]
  • 10 retailer blogs that are genuinely worth reading [Econsultancy]