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Nike exits Amazon, Shoptalk’s all-female lineup, Ralph Lauren tackles counterfeits

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

Top Stories
  • Nike to stop selling on Amazon (Business Insider)
  • Shoptalk invites only women to speak at its 2020 event (Retail Dive)
  • Ralph Lauren offers consumers a DIY counterfeit-checking tool (Retail Wire)
  • Apple plans 2022 release for first AR headset, followed by AR glasses in 2023 (The Verge)
  • Mixed reality apps will quintuple ad revenue to $118bn by 2024 (Mobile Marketer)
  • Walmart launches voice shopping for grocery on Apple (Grocery Dive)
  • Casca plans to decentralize its supply chain with 3D printing (Sourcing Journal)
  • Wayfair introduces mobile app with visual technology features (Retail Dive)
  • Why the new generation of wearable tech has legs (Glossy)
  • Apple just released an app that tracks your heart, hearing, and menstrual cycles (MIT Technology Review)
Sustainability & Purpose
  • New Balance crafts a sustainable sneaker using surplus material (Hypebeast)
  • Timberland opens first ‘purpose-led’ flagship store in Europe (Fashion United)
  • Seek app builds biodiversity database as users identify plant and animal species (Dezeen)
  • Ted Baker joins Wrap Up London charity campaign (The Industry)
  • YNAP joins forces with Prince Charles’ Foundation (WWD)
  • launches, offering help for social projects (The Guardian)
  • Finisterre teams with Aquapak for sustainable packaging (Finisterre)
  • Inditex, Unions strike deal to create a Global Labor Committee (WWD)
  • How the climate crisis is killing us, in 9 alarming charts (Wired)
Retail & Commerce
  • Inside the physical store that only offers digital clothes (Vogue Business)
  • John Lewis & Waitrose launch experiential concept store in Southampton (Retail Gazette)
  • Sephora, Kiehl’s, Vichy and Bobbi Brown are using ‘virtual advisors’ to drive ecommerce (Glossy)
  • Quiz keeps investing in its AI-driven personalization capabilities through True Fit (Fashion United)
  • How Revolve uses personalization to help customers find that perfect dress (WWD)
  • Louis Vuitton is now delivering luxury to your door – via men in sharp suits (CNA Luxury)
  • Dior launches e-commerce in Japan (Fashion United)
  • Adidas to close Speedfactories, transfer technologies to Asian suppliers (Fashion United)
  • Burberry growth inches forward despite Hong Kong setback (Vogue Business)
  • Mulberry losses nearly double in challenging UK market conditions (WWD)
  • Retailers commit to Purple Tuesday (Drapers)
  • Farfetch sinks as analysts warn it is ‘no uber of luxury goods’ (TheIndustry)
  • VC Sonya Brown on how to stand out as a DTC startup (Vogue Business)
  • ShopYourFit launches to make finding fit and size a seamless experience (WWD)
Marketing & Social Media
  • Why brands should pay even more attention to social media (Vogue Business)
  • PopSugar opens ‘sugar chalet’ shopping experience (Campaign)
  • WhatsApp adds shopping catalog feature, courting e-commerce (Fashion Network)
  • Samsung boosts awareness with microinfluencer campaign defending green chat bubbles (Mobile Marketer)
  • Instagram Stories launches TikTok clone Reels in Brazil (TechCrunch)
  • Consumers 35x more likely to see brands’ texts vs emails (Forbes)
  • Facebook Pay lets you buy goods and send money inside Facebook’s apps (Engadget)
  • Gucci transports Snapchatters to a virtual psychedelic tropical island (AdWeek)
  • Saks, Sephora pilot Google’s local ads to drive store traffic (Mobile Marketer)
  • Zara launches fragrance collections in partnership with Jo Malone (WWD)
  • Patagonia’s new line is made from old clothes damaged beyond repair (Fast Company)
  • Supreme and Rimowa unveil new luggage collaboration (Fashion Network)
  • Shane Dawson, Jeffree Star makeup collab earns $54million in MIV (WWD)
  • How ‘VSCO Girls’ are killing makeup sales and reshaping the beauty industry (Fortune)
  • Is ‘OK boomer’ a merchandising opportunity? (Retail Wire)
  • How fashion can fix its cultural appropriation problem (i-D)
  • Parade wants to make a cultural impact with creative basics (Fashionista)

How are you thinking about innovation? 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.

business Campaigns digital snippets Retail sustainability technology

ICYMI: Apple’s AR headset, Calvin Klein shutters luxury business, Diesel USA goes bust

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

  • Apple could launch augmented reality headset in 2020 [TechCrunch]
  • Calvin Klein to close luxury collections business [The Guardian]
  • Diesel USA files for bankruptcy in thriving denim cycle [WWD]
  • Smart speaker ownership jumped to 40% in 2018 [Retail Dive]
  • 7 tech activations that stood out this fashion week season [TheCurrent Daily]
  • Burberry teams with U.K. charity smart works to dress women in need [WWD]
  • H&M donates 200 thousand dollars for International Women’s Day [Fashion United]
  • Bloomingdale’s debut Good for the Globe pop-up [Fashion United]
  • Estée Lauder expands sustainability goals [WWD]
  • Pinterest’s new shopping feature connects retailers with consumers [Fashion United]
  • Rent the Runway and West Elm launch data-informed home rental collection [TheCurrent Daily]
  • Macy’s uses AR to make its stores “an amazing place to shop” [Fashion United]
  • Google reveals shoppable Google Image ads at Shoptalk [WWD]
  • Barneys courts younger shoppers with cannabis products, new campaign [AdAge]
  • Fitbit signs on Adidas, Blue Apron, Deezer for new rewards program [Mobile Marketer]
  • Farfetch unveils new content-driven website [Fashion United]
  • Dior adds AR filter with Instagram [WWD]
  • T.J. Maxx gamifies pop-up experiences via Instagram [Marketing Dive]
  • Why beauty companies are making a play for SXSW [Glossy]
  • Rapha launches custom cycling kits on demand [TheCurrent Daily]
  • KITH & Estée Lauder debut new skincare products [Highsnobiety]
  • Dover Street Market stands behind cultured diamonds [WWD]
  • Bonobos debuts women’s collection, male allyship campaign [Retail Dive]
  • Abercrombie & Fitch plans to close up to 40 stores this year [Retail Dive]
  • JD sells TopLife business to Farfetch China for $50 million [Jing Daily]
  • LK Bennett collapses to become latest high street fashion victim [The Industry]
  • Is there a Bobbi Brown after Bobbi Brown? [BoF]
  • A talk with Lebron James convinced Nike’s co-founder to approve the Kaepernick ad [TheCurrent Daily]
  • At 60, Barbie has no discernible personality, and that is the best thing about her [Quartzy]
  • What Troye Sivan’s Glossier campaign says about gender in beauty ads [Dazed]
  • At home in my hijab: How the internet helped me embrace modest clothing [CNET]

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. The Current Global 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. 

Retail technology

Macy’s to launch self-checkouts and VR furniture shopping by the end of 2018

Macy's Mobile Checkout
Macy’s Mobile Checkout

Macy’s is introducing a series of tech capabilities to its brick and mortar store before the end of the year, as the retailer continues to fight to win back space in the US retail race.

Speaking on the first day of retail conference Shoptalk in Las Vegas, CEO Jeff Gennette, introduced a new feature that allows customers to use the Macy’s app to scan an item to pay. To finish the purchase, customers will then merely need to head to a mobile checkout counter located near the exits, where a sales associate will remove any shopping tags and bag the merchandise.

Alongside more convenient click & collect capabilities, these features will be rolled out across every Macy’s location by the end of 2018, he explained.

“We think of the Macy’s app as a key we hand to our customers, a key that allows them to unlock an enhanced shopping experience – a world of possibilities. With this powerful tool in hand, we give them the opportunity to engage with us on their terms. And we keep adding exciting new features to it based on what they tell us,” said Gennette in a press release.

The retailer has also worked with Ohio-based virtual and augmented reality specialist Marxent, to use their 3D Cloud and VR solution to create a VR furniture shopping experience. During early tests, the concept “significantly increased” transaction size, Gennette said.

In the in-store experience, consumers can use tablets to virtually design their own room and place Macy’s furniture inside, which can then be watched in 3D via a VR headset. The feature will roll out at 60 Macy’s locations by the summer. It will also allow the retailer to introduce furniture in smaller retail storefronts as it won’t need to store its full line. In addition, an AR furniture shopping feature will be incorporated into the retailer’s app in April.

Macy's VR Furniture Shopping
Macy’s VR Furniture Shopping

“Consumers today don’t just adopt technology, they absorb it at a tremendous pace, but they want it to be useful to their needs. Like a lot of brands, we’ve experimented with VR in a number of areas and we’re excited to have found a practical application that has proven to drive sales. In furniture, we are giving our customers a new tool that will allow them to virtually test out home furnishings, helping them make more informed decisions on these important purchases,” said Gennette.

At present, furniture retailers such as IKEA and Wayfair are deploying similar capabilities, while AR is also being heavily applied in the beauty industry, and dabbled with in fashion.

Retailers like Macy’s and Target were present at the Shoptalk conference to talk about how they are developing in-store technologies that will respond to consumer demand and help them stay head-above-water when going up against the elephant in the room: Amazon. It was no mere coincidence that on the same day, Gianna Puerini, VP of Amazon Go, and Dilip Kumar, VP of technology for Amazon Go and Amazon Books, also took to the stage, where they shared consumer insights on their store’s cashierless experience since launching in Seattle a little over a year ago.

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Artificial intelligence dominates the retail conversation at Shoptalk Europe

Target is using Pinterest's Lens visual search technology
Target is using Pinterest’s Lens visual search technology

If there was one overarching term at Shoptalk Europe this week, it was artificial intelligence. From machine learning to visual search, natural language processing and more, the role of systems that facilitate smarter and more personalised customer experiences was key.

Keynote talks from Google, Alibaba, Westfield and more all referenced such a focus, with repeats of numerous big stats bandied about in terms of where this space is moving. By 2020, 85% of customer interaction in retail will be managed by AI, according to Gartner, multiple speakers said. And 30% of all companies will employ AI to augment at least one of their primary sales processes by the same time period, they further added.

“We’re putting AI front and centre as a driving force to make [smart commerce] happen,” noted eBay’s chief product officer, RJ Pittman. “The curve is steep but the opportunity is extraordinary. So we’re going to start climbing; we’re right at the precipice of a transformational inflection point.”

He referenced the company’s Shopbot on Facebook Messenger, as well as its Google Home pricing tool for sellers. AI is what will make commerce more personal, he explained, and importantly also scaleable.

Other such initiatives were referenced throughout the conference too. Levi’s noted its virtual stylist chatbot, created with, which aims to replicate the experience customers have in store by helping them with the fit and style of jeans to suit them.

Topman’s global digital director, Gareth Rees-John, highlighted his work with a Canadian company called Granify to help optimize the menswear store’s e-commerce conversion rates by serving different messages to shoppers when they are at flight risk. The notifications use machine learning to address issues that will help retain the individual in question, such as letting them know an item is low in stock, as one example. It’s seeing an uplift of 3-5% in doing so.

Flash sales site BrandAlley meanwhile, outlined how it works with marketing automation company Emarsys for persona based targeting in its email campaigns, which has led to a 16% conversion lift. And AI firm Sentient Technologies showed how providing 256 real-time website design variations for consumers for Swedish flower delivery chain Euroflorist, has resulted in a 17% increase in conversions.

An underlying thread throughout however, was how much more work there is to be done to move towards true personalisation. Rees-John reminded the audience how many retailers are still operating on legacy systems with “jumbled data” making it hard to move forward fast, for instance. His focus, he said, is on “making little changes that have robust business cases”.

Meanwhile, Bruce Macinnes, chairman of BrandAlley, noted that he hopes to move towards personalising the entire customer journey from homepage to checkout. “We have plenty of personalised content along that journey but it’s not fully personalised yet and we believe there is a way to go to using all the data that we have,” he explained.

Charmaine Huet, chief marketing officer of Woolworths South Africa, wants to work towards having millions of different communications plans every day. “78% of our revenue comes from credit cards, so we already know a lot about our customers. Now what we’re really thinking about is how do you really personalise the experience for them and how do you create content that is really personalised and resonates with [each of them] – and this is really difficult, it takes humans and data and AI.”

Vladimir Stankovic, global digital and e-commerce director at Camper, said AI can be seen as the enabler for all this. “It will allow us to get closer to our consumer, to give them what they want.” His big hopes lie in how it can impact discovery: “Natural language processing and visual search are providing new ways to discover product. I believe there is huge value from this technology.”

Visual search companies particularly dominated the exhibit floor, including the likes of Slyce, which works with Tommy Hilfiger, and Fashwell, which works with Zalando. Ted Mann, CEO of the former, said being able to search through your camera lens will become common practice for shoppers down the road, noting new functionalities his team is adding including being able to use visual search to create wishlists and to fill shopping baskets.

In his keynote talk, Tim Kendall, president of Pinterest, likewise said “the future of discovery will be visual”. He pushed the idea that Pinterest is aiming to do to discovery what Google did to search, with visual search at the heart of achieving that.

The company’s Lens tool, which allows customers to find similar items from its database by searching through their cameras, is being heavily integrated in the shopping space. It recently launched a partnership with Target on that basis, similarly starting with a registry experience.

“This Pinterest partnership quite literally helps us shorten the distance from when our guests have an idea to when they’re ready to make a purchase,” said Rick Gomez, chief marketing officer at Target, at launch. “It’s another way we’re making it easy and fun for our guests to explore and find new products.”

Ultimately the goal, said Huet of Woolworths South Africa, is for automation in retail processes to do just this: allow more frictionless shopping, as well as a level of personalised experience so consumers can spend more time doing (and finding) what they really want.

AI in its various forms, is helping shopkeepers move this forward. “Just look at this conference; AI is already here,” said Pittman of eBay. “I say embrace it. And then go build something great.”

This post first appeared on Forbes

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Digital snippets: Mid-tier blogger power, the robotics opportunity, Alibaba’s anti-counterfeiting feud


After a week refreshing the mind and the soul at Futuro in Ibiza (an awe-inspiring experience), we’re back with a round-up of everything you might have missed in fashion and technology news (and beyond) over the past fortnight or so. Read on for highlights from mid-tier bloggers and robots to Alibaba, Victoria’s Secret, Levi’s, WeChat and more…

  • The power of the mid-tier blogger [Racked]

  • How robots can help fashion companies drive business efficiencies [BoF]

  • Inside Alibaba’s anti-counterfeiting feud [Associated Press]

  • Why Victoria’s Secret won’t be mailing out any more catalogues [AdWeek]

  • Aerie refused to Photoshop its ads for two years and sales spiked [Mashable]

  • Project Jacquard: Google and Levi’s launch the first ‘smart’ jean jacket for urban cyclists [Forbes]

  • Fashion shake-ups go beyond designers to the C-suite [NY Times]

  • Fashion industry faces disruption from outside — and from within [FT]

  • Why lux brands love Line [Glossy]

  • With 92% of luxury brands on WeChat, here’s how they can step up their game [Jing Daily]

  • How four creative directors are using Snapchat [Glossy]

  • How Instagram’s new feed will impact brands and influencers [BoF]

  • With subscription beauty boxes, rules of e-commerce don’t apply [WSJ]

  • Why buy buttons on Pinterest and Instagram haven’t taken off for retailers [Digiday]

  • Brands want to predict your behaviour by mining your face from YouTube videos [Motherboard]

  • Chatbots won’t solve everything [BoF]

  • For the first time, Google is bringing retail ads to image search [AdWeek]

  • Shoptalk: Pondering the store’s future in an age of web buying [Associated Press]

  • Keep calm and keep shopping – how elections impact retail sales [The Conversation]

  • Why dynamic pricing just doesn’t work for fashion retailers [LinkedIn]

  • I tested Rent The Runway’s new Unlimited service. My satisfaction was… limited [Pando]

  • What does ‘innovation’ in retail look like? 8 leaders weigh in [Retail Dive]

  • Online retailers should care more about the post-purchase experience [HBR]

  • Does Kendall and Kylie’s game actually sell clothes? [Racked]

  • EasyJet’s new smart shoes guide travellers as they wander through new cities [JWT Intelligence]

  • MIT researchers create 3D-printed fur, opening up “a new design space” [Dezeen]