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business e-commerce Editor's pick Retail technology

Retail automation: A balance of efficiency and ethics

I recently binge-watched a BBC drama called Years and Years. Featuring Emma Thompson as a controversial British prime minister, it’s a frighteningly realistic portrayal of what society might look like given a few more twists and turns from both our political leadership and the technology developments that surround us. 

If you haven’t seen it, I recommend it as one to hunker down to next time the weather turns poor wherever you are. The reason for referencing this, however, is that there’s one speech in the show that feels particularly poignant to retail today.  

“We blame these vast sweeping tides of history like they’re out of our control, like we’re so helpless and little and small, but it’s our fault,” the family’s matriarch explains. “You know why? Because of that £1 t-shirt. We can’t resist it, every single one of us – we see a t-shirt that costs £1 and we think that’s a bargain, I’ll have that… The shopkeeper gets 5p for that t-shirt, and some little peasant in a field gets paid 0.01p and we think that’s fine. We buy into that system for life. 

“I saw it all going wrong when it began in the supermarkets, when they replaced all the women on the tills with those automated checkouts… Now all those women are gone and we let it happen. And I think we do like them, those checkouts. We want them because it means we can stroll through, pick up our shopping and we don’t have to look that women in the eye, the woman who’s paid less than us. She’s gone, we got rid of her – sacked. Well done. So yes, it’s our fault. This is the world we built. Congratulations.”

Each of us is complicit in the future world we’re creating, she suggests. And in her view, one full of automation, frankly, is a negative. 

But it’s the detail that’s important here – it’s the fact we thought any level of this automation was right in the first place, even in the most basic sense, and we forgot about the human element of it all in the process. Which is why it stuck in my head, because it’s really so real. 

Automation is something we’ve been talking about for years for the sake of efficiency. In our company, we help integrate all sorts of solutions that facilitate it constantly. And we’ve seen the industry really expanding on this front both in stores and through warehousing for some time. 

UK food delivery service, Ocado, is a market leader for warehouse automation, for instance. Its state-of-the-art facility processes 3.5 million items or around 65,000 orders every week, thanks to a fleet of 1,100 robots. 

Meanwhile, Amazon Go, the unmanned grocery store in the US, is one of the best known customer-facing initiatives in this space. It makes use of a multitude of different technologies – from sensors to image recognition – to enable shoppers to simply walk out while payment is automatically taken without having to interact with any other human being at all.

The interesting thing here, is that for every part of this in action, there are a multitude of startups we work with that do this even better. This is nothing short of a burgeoning space

To that end, John Lewis in the UK also just announced it has partnered with various robotics companies to develop its own human-robot interactions. Its intention, it says, is to have autonomous technology to assist its workers. 

Doing so comes with a multitude of benefits of course – from increased convenience for shoppers when things are faster and easier, through to better service in the process from the sales associates who are on hand to help where it matters. That also means opportunities for upskilling of staff – giving them new and higher skills, leading ultimately to better paid positions. And there’s economic incentive too. According to PWC, AI, robotics and other forms of smart automation have the potential to contribute $15 trillion to global GDP by 2030. 

This is all incredibly relevant in the context of John Lewis – one of the most trusted brands on the UK high street. The idea it suggests is that it can turn its customer promise into improved service and commercial value via robotics. 

The question really though is should it? According to the World Economic Forum, nearly 50% of companies expect automation to lead to some reduction in their full-time workforce by 2022. Meanwhile, the British Retail Consortium estimates that 60% of retail jobs will be at risk due to automation over the next 20 years. 

There’s an argument that previous industrial revolutions have ultimately led to progress – unemployment in one generation opening up new opportunities in the next. But if you want to look really far out, the University of Oxford predicts there is a 50% chance machines will be capable of taking over all human jobs in 120 years. 

That’s a fairly cynical view, but either way there’s an important note about ethics here. The John Lewis announcement came with a note that said its intention is to create an environment of safe and ethical adoption of robots in the industry. Presumably that means one that benefits its workers and not just removes their jobs. 

This isn’t a new conversation in a wider sense. AI ethics and all it consists of has been a technology debate and concern for some time. But for me, this isn’t about worrying over some apocalyptic future where the robots ultimately have intelligence enough to take over from the human race at large. It’s about the right now – the next 10 years and shaping how we want this industry to continue to work. 

I am all for efficiencies – it’s one of the linchpins of what we offer as a company, but that has to come with balance. A report by the Harvard Business Review is interesting in this sense. It suggests that those companies who are using automation mainly to displace employees, should expect to see only short-term productivity gains, whereas those who adopt it alongside staff, will achieve the most significant performance improvements.

That’s the ideal – making it great for business and for the people involved. If automation can give us greater ability to do the things we love, to remove the mundane tasks and those not adding value, it makes sense. After all, why are we doing any of this otherwise if it’s not about benefiting humanity long term. 

But we need to take a stand on this now and decide what we want for our future. There’s a certain element of inevitability to it all, but the human factor should be part of every conversation happening in this space. Ultimately what it comes down to is not do we want this change to happen, but how? It’s our choice, meaning otherwise, as per Year and Years, it will be “our fault”.  

How are you thinking about innovative solutions? 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 Campaigns

3 ways fashion brands weighed in on the US midterm elections

Tory Burch
Tory Burch

Fashion companies used to avoid dipping into politics, but with society facing greater polarisation than ever, consumers are expecting their favorite brands to speak up.

More than half of US consumers (52%) said a brand’s position on social or environmental issues would impact their holiday buying decisions this year, up three points from 2017, according to research published this week by The NPD Group.

“In this midterm election year, political polarization and activism is on the rise in this country, and it’s bleeding into the upcoming holiday season, especially among younger consumers,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry advisor of The NPD Group.

With customers becoming more aware of what they support with their dollars, retailers don’t want to look like another callous corporation, but getting activism-based association right, is a challenge of authenticity.

Check out these three initiatives major brands took in the run-up to the US midterm elections:
 

Political backing from Patagonia

Patagonia
Patagonia

Known for its environmental activism, outdoor brand Patagonia took a step further this election. Not only did it join the Time to Vote campaign by closing stores nationwide to give employees the opportunity to get to their local polling stations, but it also made its first political endorsements in the brand’s history, supporting Democratic candidates Jackie Rosen and Jon Tester.

“The company is endorsing candidates for the first time this year because of the urgent and unprecedented threats to our public lands and waters. Nevada and Montana are two states where Patagonia has significant company history and a long record of conservation accomplishments, and where the stakes are too high to stay silent,” the company said in a statement.

In addition, the brand launched an entire section of its website to help customers “make a voting plan”, with links to information about candidates and polling places.
 

T-shirt endorsement from Moda Operandi, Tory Burch and Carbon 38

Moda Operandi
Moda Operandi

Limited-edition tees with “Vote” signs were on sale at numerous retailers to drive awareness around increased voter turnout. Moda Operandi even created a trunk show called “Vote 2018” dedicated to selling them. Tory Burch’s tee was among those featured on the luxury e-commerce site, with the proceeds going to Yara Shahidi’s Eighteen x 18. Prabal Gurung’s bamboo-cotton tee was also on sale, and sold out, with proceeds supporting Rock the Vote.

Activewear brand Carbon38 created 300 tanks emblazoned with “I Am a Voter”, producing a second run after selling out. All of the proceeds support groups including Democracy Works, Headcount, Nonprofit Vote, Rock the Vote, Vote.org, #VoteTogether, Voto Latino and When We All Vote.

“We noticed heavier-than-usual traffic on our site and likely reached a broader demographic than just our core customer since so many people are proud and compassionate about this,” said Carbon38 co-founder and CEO, Katie Warner Johnson, to WWD.
 

Voting booths at Levi’s

Levi's
Levi’s

Another participant in the Time to Vote campaign, Levi Strauss & Co also went above and beyond to encourage turnout. The brand worked with Rock the Vote to install 40 voter registration booths in Levi’s stores.

According to the brand’s president and CEO, Chip Bergh, the current divided political climate and government’s failure to provide for society are pushing companies to weigh in. “We are a $5 billion company. I have a platform that would be wasted if we are not taking advantage to make a difference in this world”, he said at the Fast Company Innovation Festival in New York last week.

Bergh explained the business operates with a concept called “profits through principles”: every year it gives a certain percentage of its profits as a company to its foundation. “Through the foundation, we execute a lot of goodwill towards the communities and the society.”

With so many different social issues to choose from, brands have a responsibility to pick causes that align with their values. As Bergh puts it: “If you stand for everything, you stand for nothing. We’ve had to be deliberate about the spots we’re going to weigh in on.”

Are you thinking innovatively enough in your brand messaging? 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
Campaigns Editor's pick

The North Face reaches global community with “Walls Are Meant For Climbing” campaign

The North Face

The North Face has expanded its “Walls Are Meant For Climbing” campaign this year, aiming to reach a global community of up to 100,000 people and re-evaluate perceptions of what walls represent.

The campaign supports the brand’s second installation of its annual “Global Climbing Day”, which will take place on August 18. Partnering with a multitude of indoor climbing spaces globally, the brand will offer free climbing lessons for anyone attending on the day, donating $1 per person to the non-profit The Khumbu Climbing Center in Nepal. It is also launching a limited edition collection available for purchase now.

According to the outdoor brand, the aim of the campaign is to create a community and reflect its founding values. “Since 1966, we’ve seen walls not as obstacles but as opportunities. They are mirrors that reflect the best versions of ourselves. Walls do not divide us, walls bring us together. Walls are meant for climbing.”

With this initiative The North Face aims to reach a much larger audience than in 2017, where the campaign attracted 20,000 people to participate in climbing activities globally.

It has also taken this as an opportunity to let female climbers tell the stories of how they started their journey of conquering walls.

Under the banner “Climbing, the Great Equalizer”, the brand has released a total of four inspirational videos, each illustrating a unique story from a diverse set of characters – featuring three female climbers and one male. This week’s release – which has so far been viewed over 300.000 times on YouTube –  tells the story of Monserrat Matehuala, who dedicates the video to “my brown girls from the ‘hood’.”

This links back to the brand’s efforts to celebrate female explorers with their “She Move Mountains” campaign launched in April.

 

Brands are upping the ante when speaking to their consumers in a way that mirrors their values and in particular, their anxieties, in modern societies. In a politically charged landscape, encouraging positive activism is an increasingly important tool – as also seen by Patagonia’s Action Works platform which encourages charitable behavior.

Categories
business data Editor's pick technology

Cambridge Analytica whistleblower on the trends connecting fashion and politics

Christopher Wylie - Cambridge Analytica
Christopher Wylie

The similarities between fashion and politics are much stronger than people think, says Christopher Wylie, now widely known as the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower, in an exclusive conversation with Vogue Italia.

Why is someone who blew the lid on the Facebook data scandal talking about fashion? Canada-born Wylie was studying trend forecasting at the University of the Arts London while working at Cambridge Analytica, and has spent much of his career exploring links in culture.

Much like fashion trends, politics is cyclical, and encompasses the idea of presenting an aesthetic, or narrative, he explains. “Trends are just as important in politics as they are in fashion; just that rather than an aesthetic trend, it might be an ideological, behavioural or cultural trend,” he says. “You need to keep track of all kinds of trends in politics because you need to know if you come out and say something, what the adoption of that will be six months down the road. And is that going to help you win an election.”

Given the nature of his role at a data business, unsurprisingly he also has a big view on the impact of artificial intelligence and machine learning on the fashion industry too.

Fashion’s intuitive nature is not only hard to measure in trends, but also incredibly complex for machines to learn, he explains. He believes fashion is contextual because its trends and aesthetics are hard to quantify. “How do you define bold? If I go to a black tie dinner but I’m decked out in camo, I’m actually wearing quite muted colours, but it’s quite bold,” he exemplifies, saying boldness is contextual, depending on where you are.

“How do you tell a computer about that? Amazingly, with fashion, is that not only is it visually and aesthetically really enriching, computationally and mathematically it’s really hard. It’s a hell of a lot harder than politics.”

Computer vision could be the solution, he says, because an outfit is essentially visually-encoded information. In that sense, it is human beings who would need to look at pictures of people wearing clothes and choose the relevant adjectives that describe what they look like. They then need to work closely with computers to teach them about fashion.

“Everybody needs teaching, even computers. You learnt fashion in the first place, so the computer needs to learn fashion from people as there are no machines that know fashion yet,” says Wylie.

Digital influencer Margaret Zhang wears Vetements
Digital influencer Margaret Zhang wears Vetements

We saw this movement towards focusing on the human earlier this year at SXSW. While every conversation was underpinned by the concept of artificial intelligence, the topic kept highlighting the sense of instilling humanity in all interactions – from robots learning from humans, to humans being freed from minimal tasks to focus on what matters.

Another strong theme from SXSW – and one permeating consumer trends full stop today – is around the lack of trust in society. The Edelman Trust Barometer has reported a straight-line decline for 25 years, and Wylie likens the rise of ironic fashion such as Vetements to this too. “If you have a lot of designers who are starting to make stuff that is ironic – or stupid like the €200 DHL t-shirt – and people are buying it, it’s because you have a total collapse of trust in institutions, including fashion institutions,” he says, adding that this is where fashion and culture in general have a lot more power than they give themselves credit for.

The Vogue Italia interview otherwise covered Wylie’s involvement in the Cambridge Analytica and Facebook data scandal more broadly, and exactly why he decided to go public with the information.

For more on the future of data regulation and privacy, listen to our episode of TheCurrent Innovators podcast with Amnesty International’s Sherif Elsayed-Ali.

Categories
sustainability

New Patagonia microsite connects hyper local activists

Patagonia Action Works
Patagonia Action Works

As part of its continued focus on the environment, Patagonia has launched Patagonia Action Works, a microsite intended to facilitate interactions between like-minded activists.

In a video announcing the initiative, Yvon Chouinard, the company’s founder, compared the venture to a dating site, for the way in which it links customers with worthy organizations and events.

Users can select their location and the causes they care about, including biodiversity, climate, communities, land and water. The website then generates a list of relevant organizations divided by grantees that have received support from the brand, related events nearby and skilled-volunteering and petition opportunities. The platform also enables organizations themselves to apply for grants.

Patagonia Action Works
Patagonia Action Works

Adding to the sense of urgency to take charge of the planet, which is at the core of Patagonia’s communication strategy, Chouinard explains: “If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that things aren’t going very well for the planet. It’s pretty easy to get depressed about it.”

He adds a call to action: “I’ve always known the cure for depression is action. Patagonia’s reason for existence is to force government and corporations to take action in solving our environmental problems.”

Patagonia Action Works is part of the company’s 1% for the Planet program, which has donated almost $90 million to grassroots organizations over the past 35 years. To activate the launch, the company is hosting a series of events, including a panel discussion in Santa Monica, California on Friday, February 8.

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

What you missed: debating tech at retail, the role of AI in fashion, Massenet joins Farfetch

Natalie Massenet announced her move to Farfetch as co-chairman
Natalie Massenet announced her move to Farfetch as co-chairman

All eyes might have been on the Milan collections, but the big business news this week is back in London where Natalie Massenet announced her move to Farfetch as co-chairman. An Instagram Story featuring Massenet with José Neves answering a Q&A followed – do watch it via @Farfetch before it disappears.

Otherwise, some interesting stories this week debating retail tech – what consumers do and don’t want on the one hand, versus why the industry hasn’t adopted artificial intelligence faster, on the other. Both are worth digging in to and digesting. Beyond that, there are new campaigns from Calvin Klein and Converse, as well as a scathing (but amusing) piece over on Digiday about just why fashion advertising is all out of (terrible) ideas. And if you’re still not sure about your video strategy, you might want to pay attention to the fact YouTube users now watch one billion hours per day.


TOP STORIES
  • Consumers don’t want Amazon or Google to help them shop [Bloomberg]
  • AI can make us all dress better, so why isn’t the fashion industry using it more? [Fast Company]
  • How Neiman Marcus is turning technology innovation into a ‘core value’ [Retail Dive]
  • Tommy Hilfiger looks to technology as it combats Macy’s decline [Bloomberg]
  • The trouble with all those t-shirt slogans about diversity on fashion’s runways [Quartz]

BUSINESS
  • Natalie Massenet joins Farfetch as co-chairman [BoF]
  • How teen retailer Aerie is thriving while its competitors flounder [CNBC]
  • Céline names new CEO, joins Instagram, announces plans to launch e-commerce [The Fashion Law]
  • John Lewis to cut hundreds of jobs [Campaign]
  • Menswear e-commerce startup JackThreads hanging by a thread [Retail Dive]

SOCIAL MEDIA
  • People now watch one billion hours of YouTube per day [TechCrunch]
  • Instagram users can now share up to 10 photos and videos in a single post [AdWeek]

MARKETING
  • Fashion advertising is out of ideas [Digiday]
  • Calvin Klein debuts new campaign featuring the men of Moonlight the morning after the Oscars [AdWeek]
  • #ForeverChuck: Converse throws a party as Chuck Taylor turns 100 [BrandChannel]
  • Did Walmart’s high-concept short films on the Oscars work? [AdWeek]
  • Why data targeting was a natural fit for cotton marketers [AdAge]

RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • The future of shopping is more discrimination [The Atlantic]
  • Ebay is tapping into the under-24 demographic by partnering with Snupps [Fashionista]

TECHNOLOGY
  • Retailers invest in chatbots, but consumers remain ambivalent [BrandChannel]
  • Why chatbots are dangerous territory for retailers [Forbes]
  • Why payment companies are flocking to messaging apps [Fast Company]
  • Your clothes could soon create and store their own electricity [Wired]
  • Grow your own clothes: three concepts for the fashion for the future [DW]

START-UPS
  • VC Eurie Kim: ‘Most fashion businesses don’t make good investments’ [Glossy]
Categories
business digital snippets e-commerce social media Startups technology

What you missed: Amazon as the most innovative company, Canada Goose IPO, AI versus fraud

Jeff Bezos' Amazon has been named the world’s most innovative company of 2017 - retail fashion tech
Jeff Bezos’ Amazon has been named the world’s most innovative company of 2017

It’s been a pretty quiet season as far as technology goes during New York and London fashion weeks – live content is playing its part, as is politics, but there’s little in the way of the big innovations we’ve seen in the past. There’s lots to be said about that, so look out for some commentary around it in the coming weeks as we cycle into Milan and Paris. In the meantime, one of the highlights there has been is the Fashion Innovation Agency’s return to mixed reality with designer Sabinna.

Elsewhere, news to catch-up on this week spans Amazon as the world’s most innovative company, the digital printing technology taking us closer to fully customisable clothing, the fact Canada Goose has filed for its IPO, and how artificial intelligence is becoming the newest weapon in the fraud fight.


TOP STORIES
  • Why Amazon is the world’s most innovative company of 2017 [Fast Company]
  • Canada Goose IPO: Its smartest business move was expanding beyond Canada [Quartz]
  • How digital printing technology is taking us closer to fully customisable clothing [Forbes]

BUSINESS
  • British Fashion industry steels itself for Brexit [BoF]
  • The all-new Hermès: Taking its cues from… Michael Kors? [LeanLuxe]

SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Snap lowers valuation expectations in highly awaited IPO [Reuters]
  • Emma Watson launches eco-fashion Instagram [WWD]

MARKETING
  • Browns kicks off year-long #cooltobekind campaign ahead of LFW [The Industry]
  • River Island on navigating the divide between brand marketing and culture [The Drum]
  • A$AP Rocky stars in Zalando’s new spring campaign [The Industry]

RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • 3 trends shaping retail cybersecurity in 2017 [Retail Dive]
  • Why Indochino is opening new stores in shopping malls [Glossy]

TECHNOLOGY
  • Samsung goes for a new look in virtual reality at New York Fashion Week [Fortune]
  • Rise of the learning machines: How AI is becoming the newest weapon in the fraud fight [Retail Dive]
  • ‘Smart mirrors’ come to the fitting room [Bloomberg]

START-UPS
  • VC Cheryl Cheng: ‘Fashion has not shown it can be disrupted’ [Glossy]
Categories
Editor's pick social media

Political messages dominated NYFW’s social media trends

Prabal Gurung's feminist statement t-shirts at New York Fashion Week - NYFW political messages
Prabal Gurung’s feminist statement t-shirts at NYFW

Fashion week might be a means to showcase new collections, but this season’s New York shows have also proved a key platform for political messages.

According to social data intelligence company Talkwalker, the big conversations across both social media and broader internet platforms tied to New York Fashion Week, have surrounded causes close to the issues currently dominating broader US headlines thanks to President Donald Trump’s incoming policies.

The CFDA’s Planned Parenthood campaign, which encouraged the industry to wear “Fashion Stands with Planned Parenthood” pins in protest of moves to defund the organisation, saw more than 34,000 mentions over the week for instance. In doing so it beat out individual leading brands like Calvin Klein (11,000 mentions thanks to Raf Simons’ debut), Alexander Wang (8,300 mentions) and even model Gigi Hadid (4,300 mentions).

Those stats specifically relate to the use of the name tied to NYFW (e.g. Gigi Hadid references at large are likely higher at any given moment in time given her fanbase). These are also direct mentions, not impressions, which will clock in significantly higher also. Talkwalker compiled the data from 150 million global websites, including access to 850,000 news sites and more than 10 social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Weibo, and YouTube.

Olivia Wilde wearing the CFDA "Fashion Stands with Planned Parenthood" pin - NYFW political messages
Olivia Wilde wearing the CFDA “Fashion Stands with Planned Parenthood” pin

Celebrities helped push the Planned Parenthood campaign further, with actress Olivia Wilde’s Instagram post about it garnering 64,000 likes alone, and Chelsea Clinton’s Tweet on the eve of fashion week similarly drawing significant attention. Key hashtags attached to the campaign, including #IstandwithPP and #PP, peaked at noon on February 11.

Further focus on such social causes followed suit throughout the week. Christian Siriano’s People are People runway show, which celebrated diversity, body positivity and self-acceptance, was mentioned over 3,700 times, for instance. Top references alongside included “Planned Parenthood”, #representationmatters and #voiceofthecurves. His “People are People” t-shirts saw all proceeds going to the ACLU.

Christian Siriano's People are People campaign at NYFW - NYFW political messages
Christian Siriano’s People are People campaign at NYFW

Mentions of Prabal Gurung’s initiative, meanwhile, which saw models in the finale wearing t-shirts with slogans including “The future is female”, “I am an immigrant” and “Break down walls”, hit close to 2,500.

Beyond “t-shirt” as a key word alongside, the top hashtag referred to in this instance was #tiedtogether, which links to The Business of Fashion’s campaign encouraging those at fashion week to wear a white bandana as a form of unity. The models in Prabal’s finale were all wearing one.

In fact, the #TiedTogether campaign has been mentioned over 12,700 times since the start of NYFW in total, with an Instagram post from Tommy Hilfiger (at its LA show) leading engagement with 35,600 likes. Talkwalker was also able to reference the top emojis people are using tied to this term, which included hearts, hands and cameras.

Prabal Gurung's feminist statement t-shirts at New York Fashion Week - NYFW political messages
Prabal Gurung’s feminist statement t-shirts at NYFW

Further politically-charged shows this season included Mara Hoffman, who invited the organisers of the Women’s March on Washington to participate in an opening discussion; Public School, who also showed t-shirts, this time with statements like “Make America New York”; and Jonathan Simkhai, who gave out “Feminist AF” tees.

Said Talkwalker CEO Todd Grossman: “All of the above shows us that these campaigns are all truly tied together. In conversations about Siriano, you find people also mentioning Gurung’s t-shirts. In conversations about Gurung, you find mentions of #TiedTogether. In conversations about #TiedTogether, you find mentions of Planned Parenthood. Each politically driven campaign on the runway does not stand alone during NYFW, rather each individual statement becomes part of a much larger dialogue – each a piece of fabric making up an (oh so stylish) quilt stitched with freedom of speech.”

Better yet, out of the 708,200 total mentions of NYFW, the hashtag #hope proved a main theme, with 19,300 references.

Tommy Hilfiger models in LA wearing the #tiedtogether bandanas - NYFW political messages
Tommy Hilfiger models in LA wearing the #tiedtogether bandanas

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

What you missed: Women’s march, what Brexit means for fashion, Branson on retail’s survival

Signs from the Women's March on Washington. (Photographed by Jonno Rattman, via Vogue)
Signs from the Women’s March on Washington. (Photographed by Jonno Rattman, via Vogue)

Top of the news agenda this past week has of course been the US inauguration of President Donald Trump, and the subsequent Women’s Marches that took place around the world. Credit to some of the intelligent coverage coming out of traditionally “fashion” (not to mention “teen”) publications, above and beyond the mere commentary around what the new First Lady and First Daughter are wearing. A particular nod to Fashionista for deciding not to comment on the latter. Lots to read, support and get behind, and the fashion industry has the potential to be a big part of that in terms of equal rights for all.

Meanwhile, other big news to know about, includes a view on what UK prime minister, Theresa May’s Brexit speech means for fashion, as well as an inspirational keynote from Richard Branson at NRF Retail’s Big Show on entrepreneurialism in retail. Also check out our recent view on whether Twitter is still relevant for fashion brands, as well as below further insight on how the industry is using Whatsapp, what to expect from Pinterest, and yet more updates on the chatbot space.


TOP STORIES
  • The most inspiring moments from the speeches at the Women’s March on Washington [Vogue]
  • Decoding Theresa May’s Brexit speech and what it means for fashion [BoF]
  • Richard Branson: Retail brands must ‘be entrepreneurial’ to survive [Retail Dive]
  • Shoes of Prey and Indochino on mass customisation and the future of retail [NRF]

BUSINESS
  • Bitter end to American Apparel as wind down accelerates [WWD]
  • Fashion house BCBG closing stores, restructuring [Retail Dive]
  • Fashion brands fear Trump’s trade policies will disrupt global production chains, with risk of tariffs squeezing profits [SCMP]

SOCIAL MEDIA
  • How fashion brands are using Whatsapp [Glossy]
  • Instagram accounts for 92% of brand social interactions: report [Luxury Daily]
  • Here’s what marketers can expect from Pinterest in 2017 [AdWeek]
  • Is Twitter right for customer service? [L2]
  • Twitter is phasing out the “Buy” button, will continue to offer donations [TechCrunch]
  • Dolce & Gabbana innovates fashion show by casting social media stars as models [CPP-Luxury]

MARKETING
  • How influencer chatbots could close the gap between content and commerce [The Drum]
  • Alexa Chung’s latest campaign video for AG is very, very, very funny [Fashionista]
  • Burberry’s forthcoming mobile app designed to ‘build connection’ with consumers over commerce [The Drum]

RETAIL
  • Meeting millennials where they shop: Shaping the future of shopping malls [McKinsey]
  • Do digital brands need physical stores? [BoF]
  • Mall owners find relief from unlikely source: online retailers [WSJ]

TECHNOLOGY
  • Your clothes will be on the radio [Bloomberg]
  • How robots in stores could revolutionise the customer experience [Retail Dive]
  • Neiman Marcus launched voice-controlled wearables for associates [Apparel]
  • Amazon reportedly in search of creative chief for VR commerce plans [Retail Dive]
Categories
business digital snippets e-commerce film social media technology

What you missed: What Trump means for retail, Alibaba’s $17bn Singles’ Day, Snapchat’s Snapbots

Trump America election retail
Analysts are weighing in on what a Trump presidency means for retail and for fashion

With the world reeling from the news of the US election over this past week, analysts have been trying to wrap their head around exactly what a Trump government will mean for retail. There are several good reads listed below.

Also hitting the headlines has of course been the mindblowing success and growth of Alibaba’s Singles’ Day – this year a $17bn affair, up from ‘just’ $14bn in 2015.

Meanwhile, some lighter bits to absorb: a wealth of new campaigns launched for the holiday season. John Lewis vs Marks & Spencer has got us excited, but also below is everyone from Gap to Macy’s, Debenhams and Kohl’s.

ps. Don’t forget to sign up for our Snapchat Masterclass – we’re currently offering 20% for our readers using code “community”.


TOP STORIES: US ELECTION & ALIBABA’S SINGLES’ DAY
  • What President Trump means for retailers [Retail Dive]
  • Fashion industry reacts to ‘devastating’ Trump victory [BoF]
  • Is fashion’s love affair with Washington over? [NY Times]
  • New Balance customers revolt after company welcomes Trump [Campaign]
  • $17 billion in one day: How Alibaba turned China’s Singles’ Day into a shopping bonanza [Digiday]
  • Virtual reality lets Chinese customers shop Macy’s New York store on the world’s biggest shopping day [Quartz]
  • Why luxury fashion brands are showing up for Singles’ Day [Glossy]
  • Michael Kors dished out discount codes with a casino-themed game on WeChat for Singles’ Day [AdWeek]
  • Five takeaways from Alibaba’s gigantic $17.8 billion shopping festival [AdAge]

BUSINESS
  • Nasty Gal files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy [Retail Dive]
  • Burberry profit falls 40% as costs rise [WSJ]
  • Kenneth Cole to shut down almost all its brick-and-mortar stores [Bloomberg]
  • Luxury coatmaker Canada Goose said to line up banks for IPO [Bloomberg]

SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Snap Inc.’s Spectacles are dropping in these crazy cool vending machines called Snapbots [AdWeek]

ADVERTISING
  • Luxury brands are failing in their storytelling [The Guardian]
  • Gap harnesses optimism in holiday ads [MediaPost]
  • Macy’s bets on power of Santa belief this holiday [AdAge]
  • Jennifer Saunders and Ewan McGregor sign up for Debenhams Christmas campaign [The Drum]
  • Kohl’s ramps up giving message in holiday campaign [AdAge]
  • Browns unveils new look, new website and innovative window campaign [The Industry]

UPCOMING EVENTS