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business Comment e-commerce Editor's pick technology

The future of click and collect needs to be more service-oriented and AI has a part to play

click and collect
Could click and collect become a warmer more enriching experience with some personalisation thrown in?

30 seconds. That’s the time stamp being aimed for in a number of retailers’ click and collect services – an objective to get the customer in and out in the quickest way possible. It’s an ambitious goal, but a level of convenience that’s highly relevant, not to mention desired, by time-starved customers.

Arguably for fashion, however, there’s a much smarter move. Nordstrom, for instance, is starting to prove the need for something a little more personal in the transaction too.

It has just introduced a new “Reserve & Try In Store” feature to its app – a way to help make the shopping experience easier for customers who like to touch, feel and try on items before buying them. The basic premise is that you reserve up to 10 items on your smartphone, select your closest store and then head to it in person where a personalised fitting room is waiting for you with those specific pieces. You don’t part with any cash until you decide what it is you want to buy.

It’s all about the convenience of online shopping but with some real world experience thrown in; all of that negating the need to drag a package home, try the items on once you get there and then realise what it is you don’t want before going through the often laborious returns process. It follows others including Westfield, Asos and Jaeger trying out real-world fitting room services attached to online orders in the past.

The whole thing is also just a lot warmer. Let’s face it, no matter where you go, the majority of click and collect systems feel like a cold and hard transaction. You show up to a counter often hidden at the back of one of the floors, stand in line for a considerable amount of time (despite that 30 second goal), hand over your information and wait while the parcel is found for you. Generally speaking, when it comes out, it’s not even wrapped in the nice packaging you might get in store, but in the sort that usually comes with an online sale.

Everything about it is impersonal. In fact, there’s little to differentiate it from standing in an Argos store waiting for your number to be called to collect the box on the rack you’ve been waiting for. Great for Argos, not so suited to a tactile fashion brand.

Argos click and collect
What click and collect looks like at Argos

And all of that comes at a time when consumer demands have never been higher. Click and collect is an expectation now; not a novelty but the norm. If you don’t offer it, you’re behind.

In fact, omnichannel at large is an expectation; 68% of millennials now demand an integrated, seamless experience, regardless of the channel, according to Accenture. With services like click and collect, there’s more need than ever therefore for fashion brands to do something different to stand out from the competition.

After all, 78% of millennials also say they’d rather now spend money on desirable experiences over products. Never before has the experience economy been so ready for exploitation. Having a fitting room attached is almost not enough of a leap therefore, which is why artificial intelligence (AI) has a part to play.

Beyond the offer from Nordstrom, what if the reserve opportunity became a personal shopper service? Not in the traditional sense, but in a way that means those 10 items you’ve reserved also come with further suggestions for items you might like. Some basic data insights tied in, and the system should be able to recognise other pieces you’ve browsed ahead of time, perhaps lingered over for a little longer on the app, watched the videos for and so forth.

Add in a recommendation engine, that AI in action, and it could also include another rail with looks it knows match your tastes, coordinate with the ones you’ve reserved and even marry up to your purchase history. All of that done on an opt-in basis, of course. It’s a ripe opportunity for upsell and cross-sell, not to mention with an engaged customer already committed to dwell time.



That fitting room you try it on in should also be a connected one, like the Polo Ralph Lauren experience from Oak Labs (as above); with a sales associate on speed dial to get you other sizes, colours and more, as well as immediately check you out. This heightened version of convenience is also the perfect move for renewed clienteling; more than just a member’s club with a stylist on hand (as Nordstrom also offers), but a hands-on personalised experience enriched by machine learning.

This would suit luxury brands – especially those already operating in a relatively connected space, like Burberry. But so too could it run the gamut of digitally-savvy high street retailers, department stores and beyond.

Yes there are going to be those consumers who want to get in and get out; pick up their order and leave, make use of lockers, drive-thrus and more, but there are also those who would like something a little more enriching, seamless and useful for the time spent. A personalised version of what’s otherwise become nothing more than a transactional Argos encounter, rather than an engaging brand experience.

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Comment Editor's pick mobile technology

Comment counts: Retailers should look to Pokémon Go for location marketing inspiration

Retailers needn’t just jump on Pokémon Go as a sponsorship opportunity, but use it as a starting point to explore all the options around location-based marketing, writes xAd’s Theo Theodorou. 

Pokémon Go
Pokémon Go in-store at Sephora (Image via @BrandiiNycolee on Twitter)

It may have been a time of chokers, bomber jackets, double denim and all things grunge, but the 90s were also the decade that Pokémon was born. For millennials, Japan’s Pokémon was a huge part of growing up. Fast-forward 20 years, and just like those fashion trends, the game is back. Now instead of trading cards, fans are running around the world catching characters in the augmented reality game Pokémon Go.

Released officially on July 6, 2016, the game uses a player’s mobile GPS to show a virtual version of their world populated with Pokémon characters to catch. In less than a week, it reportedly became the number one downloaded app on the app store, gained as many users as Uber and Tinder, topped Twitter’s daily users, and started seeing people spend more time with it than in Facebook. It also caused Nintendo’s share price to increase by more than $7bn.

Aside from realising just how many consumers love games, what can fashion retailers learn from this newest internet craze; one that gamifies our location in the real world, in real-time?


Generation mobile-savvy

Pokémon Go has tapped into the demographic that grew up with its card trading format. Now mobile-savvy and tech obsessed, this generation are demonstrating an immense appetite for a fully online/offline immersed world.

Pokémon Go is essentially the latest poster child for the power of location. Just like all successful location-aware apps like Uber, Tinder and Just Eat, the game delivers a valuable, fully merged experience, and retailers want in on the engagement this connected approach is creating.

Pokémon Go retail
Retailers have jumped on the Pokémon Go phenomenon, even in jest (Image via @Gobobbo on Twitter)

A huge 89% of all retail sales are still happening in brick and mortar stores, yet the world is simultaneously becoming increasingly mobile-first. As a result, it is imperative that retailers link the two worlds. As consumers are influenced by more than one channel now, it is crucial that brands understand how online advertising influences their consumers’ real world actions and vice versa.

Where we go, says a lot about who we are. Just like a player’s location tells us about what character they are looking to catch, location insights allows brands to understand a person’s context and proximity to points of interest, which then influence their experiences and actions in the real world.

Compared to search and social, location speaks the truth about our intentions. Just because I searched for a John Lewis voucher as a present for my niece’s birthday, doesn’t mean that I am the perfect target for future online advertising from them, for instance. However, actions speak louder than words and if, through location-based technology, John Lewis were to know I visited multiple stores on different occasions, it’s far more likely I am a worthwhile consumer to target with personalised advertising.


The power of location

While it’s exciting that Pokémon Go has brought the power of location and its abilities to the forefront by giving them a tangible and obvious consumer use, it is critical that retailers think about the type of relationships they want to build with customers. With brands now interested in investing in ‘lures’ by placing a character outside (or inside) their stores, many are recognising the potential location-technology has in driving store visitations.

However, retailers shouldn’t just jump on Pokémon Go, but explore all the options around location and what it has to offer. The pertinent question to ask is would retailers rather use a bribe essentially unassociated to the brand to get people there, or use location intelligence based on real-world behaviours to meet their needs better? With its ability to drive the right customer to a store, at the right time, brands can use location technology to drive engagement and build long lasting, loyal relationships instead of just visitors who want to ‘Catch em all’.

While the technical ability to map locations has existed for several years its accuracy has significantly improved. Now, through Blueprints technology like xAd’s, brands know whether a person is inside a store or just walking down a street – knowledge that is the difference between delivering messages of value or something of irritation to a potential customer. This level of precision means that brands can be sure impressions are meaningful and made on the right audience.

Ultimately, retailers want to drive revenue by enticing customers into their store to buy their products or services. Location technology enables brands to do this by providing intelligence about a customer based on where they go. This means the retailer can then personalise and enhance the customer experience. In a mobile-first world, where we start our path to purchase journey online and complete in the physical world, it is critical that brands grab the opportunity to join the dots between these two worlds.

Theo Theodorou is the MD of EMEA at location-based mobile advertising technology company, xAd. Comment Counts is a series of opinion pieces from experts within the industry. Do you have something to say? Get in touch via info@fashionandmash.com.

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digital snippets e-commerce social media Startups technology

Digital snippets: Diesel’s ads on Pornhub, Chanel’s Instagram battle, why the fashion world hates wearables

Your round-up of the latest stories related to fashion and technology…

diesel

  • Why you’ll soon be seeing Diesel ads on Grindr, Tinder and Pornhub [i-D]
  • Chanel may have just won a battle for the Chanel Instagram account [The Fashion Law]
  • Why the fashion world hates wearables [Co.Design]
  • High tech innovation wears well at Ralph Lauren [Forbes]
  • Burberry debuts on Apple TV with menswear fashion show [Mashable]
  • Misha Nonoo will skip fashion week to follow a consumer calendar [Fashionista]
  • Everlane’s starting a private Instagram account for new products [Digiday]
  • How Belstaff maintains a strong defense against counterfeiters [Stores]
  • How Urban Decay gets its 4.1 million Instagram followers to shop [Digiday]
  • Victoria’s Secret furthers organic storytelling mastery via Angel-endorsed Snapchat takeover [Mobile Marketer]
  • Crocs bows to critics, deletes David Bowie tribute tweet [Brand Republic]
  • Meet the female CEOs running fashion’s biggest brands [Fashionista]
  • What fashion needs to know about cyber security [BoF]
  • Shoppers are choosing experiences over stuff, and that’s bad news for retailers [The Washington Post]
  • Do ‘digital flagships’ deliver? [BoF]
  • The myth of the physical versus digital retail battle [WWD]
  • Why the social media ‘buy button’ is still there, even though most never use it [The Washington Post]
  • Inside the hidden world that handles your holiday returns [Wired]
  • Retail writes an obit on flash sale sites [Marketplace]
  • The blogosphere pays off more than ever [WWD]
  • What’s Grindr’s new agenda? [Dazed]
  • Instagram and the watch world [NY Times]
  • Why women aren’t buying smart watches [Racked]
  • Apple acquires Emotient, start-up that reads emotions from facial expressions [Fortune]
  • Why visual search will become a marketing obsession in the coming years [AdWeek]
  • These vibrating yoga pants will correct your downward dog [Fast Company]
  • 30 under 30 retail and e-commerce 2016: meet the millennials changing how we shop [Forbes]
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Comment e-commerce Editor's pick social media technology

From the archive: C&A’s Facebook Like hangers still best example of “phygital”

C&A Facebook likes

In 2012, C&A in Brazil launched a Facebook campaign for Mother’s Day that saw social media “likes” displayed via hangers in store in real-time.

The initiative invited online fans to pick their favourite items from a special dedicated collection. The results were then integrated into the retailer’s flagship store in the Iguatemi mall in São Paulo.

The beauty of it was how simple it was – consumers were asked to like items not for their own sake, but to help others in doubt over what to buy. The fact this was literally communicated in front of shoppers when in-store in person (bear in mind at that time, e-commerce was not at all significant in Brazil), is what made it work.

To date, that is still one of the most popular stories on Fashion & Mash; one that rapidly inspired coverage by numerous other publications ranging from Mashable to Refinery29.

What’s amazing, is that it’s also still used today as one of the strongest examples of digital and physical retail coming together, or “phygital” as those in the industry like to call it, constantly being referred to at technology conferences around the world. The question is, why haven’t there been any truly standout examples since?

Can you think of any others? Do share in the comments below if you’ve seen any worth shouting about.

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e-commerce Editor's pick

Kate Spade pushes interaction once more by converting store’s construction façade

katespade_barricade2

Kate Spade has turned the temporary construction barricades in place while its new store in New Jersey is completed, into an interactive shopping experience.

Rather than simply using the façade as a billboard to advertise its opening date at the Short Hills mall (October 24 for reference), it has introduced inset product displays and five touchscreens, reports Fashionista.

Signage including “Let’s play”, “Shop the space” and “Touch me” directs passersby to approach the screens whereby they can take part in a short quiz to reveal their personality traits as well as style preferences. Doing so results in a ‘personal style statement’ that users can have sent to themselves either by entering their phone number or email address, to then share on social media.

The system also suggests a selection of products based on the results, and offers free next-day shipping accordingly.

katespade_barricade

The initiative was created in partnership with retail innovation agency, The Science Project, which says the goal was to “create excitement and dialogue with new customers” before the store opens.

Its write-up continues: “We wanted to deliver not only the fanciful customer engagement we love from Kate Spade but also a system that capture crucial data, drove purchase and had lasting value to their retail ecosystem.”

Data will be captured not only in the personal details entered, but in the products interacted with on the screens.

This is not the first time Kate Spade has launched an interactive temporary storefront – it is well-known for its Kate Spade Saturday brand launch in partnership with eBay Now in New York last year, which saw pop-up virtual windows allowing shoppers to purchase directly from what looked like a giant iPad for delivery later that same day.

It also has plans in place to launch a further 35 stores across the US before this year is out, so expect to see more of these interactive barricades throughout.

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Editor's pick social media

Marc Jacobs launches digital-themed fragrance pop-ups in London

Daisy Dream Capsule

Marc Jacobs is sparing no effort to promote its fragrances in London at present. The all-new Daisy Dream scent has been supported by both an online competition and an offline interactive Dream Room, while the Daisy fragrance theme at large will play host to a pop-up Tweet Shop in Covent Garden later this week.

The online Daisy Dream Capsule works like this: users can choose four images out of a selection on the dedicated website. These are then added into a square frame that carries the hashtag #MJDaisyDream. The resulting collage, which slightly resembles a polaroid, represents the ‘dream capsule’. After entering one’s country, name and email, the capsule can be submitted and shared on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Tumblr.

An intermediary step involves the opportunity to opt in to a competition, of which the grand prize is a three-day trip to New York City that includes a £500 shopping spree.

The Dream Room (as below) that was open in London’s Westfield until July 30 with the help of Fuse Sport & Entertainment and ClinkClink, served as an offline extension of the Dream Capsule website. Set in the atrium of the shopping centre, it was designed to fully immerse consumers into the ‘Dream’. Shoppers were able to upload their Dream Capsule directly from the space via iPads and were offered souvenirs of the experience in the form of cloud-shaped cookies and photos.

MJ Dream Room

The second campaign, a pop-up Tweet Shop, will open its doors in London for the first time on Friday August 15 until Sunday August 17, at 4 East Piazza, Covent Garden. As per the teaser below, shoppers will be able to purchase items with social currency by using the hashtag #MJDaisyChain – no card or cash accepted. The more creative effort they put into their post – from a simple text through to an image, or even a Vine video – will lead to greater prizes, including the chance to win a Marc Jacobs handbag each day.

The space will also feature Daisy-themed artwork by Langley Fox, a Marc Jacobs nail bar, as well as a live Daisy photo booth and Vine booth.

This is not a new concept for Marc Jacobs; the brand opened a Tweet Shop in New York back in February to mark New York Fashion Week. Like the London version (already), this launch was preceded by an enormous amount of press coverage and hype ahead of opening.

The premise in reality, is actually a very simple and effective way to build social engagement while simultaneously ensuring a following around a pop-up physical space. In fact the locations in which both campaigns have been executed were well thought-out. Westfield and Covent Garden not only enjoy exceptionally high footfall, but are prime areas for tourists – the latter especially is becoming increasingly known as a go-to destination for beauty retail, following the launch of dedicated boutiques from the likes of Burberry and Chanel.