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business data Podcast product Retail Startups

Neighborhood Goods: Making retail relevant

Physical retail traditionally exists in a vortex of information, which doesn’t make sense for brands these days, says Matt Alexander, co-founder and CEO of new department store Neighborhood Goods, on the latest episode of the Innovators podcast. 

The company’s inaugural space, which launched in Plano, Texas, in late 2018, carries a selection of new and established brands in an environment that is hyper relevant to both its location, and its customer, through the use of data. 

Alexander’s view? Success lies in information. “If you’re a direct-to-consumer, digital-native brand, you’re going to look at this world, and you’re going to say: ‘We should be able to capture a certain amount of informative data to dictate how we should run that store, and how we should merchandise [it]’.” he explains. “That’s what they do on the web all day long. The moment you land on any of their websites, they know a huge amount about you, and exactly how you’re interacting with that site. And they optimize around it.”

His brilliant phrase: it’s all about operating in an economy of relevance. 

It’s for this reason many legacy retailers are otherwise struggling, he explains. In a basic sense it comes down to them not creating the goods, services and experiences that they know for fact the consumer wants. There is therefore a lot for them to learn from D2C incumbents – from Everlane to Casper – who have placed this front and centre in their strategies. 

Join us for this episode as we also explore why experiential retail needs to go beyond just putting a ball pit in the store, how modern brands are using the physical space for entirely new reasons, and why Alexander believes legacy retailers may still have the ability to play catch up after years of ignoring consumer needs after all.

Listen here: Entale | Spotify |  Apple Podcasts | Android Google Podcasts | Stitcher | RSS

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

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business Campaigns Editor's pick product Retail social media technology

5 brands tapping virtual storefronts to drive engagement and push conversion.

Brands are using virtual experiences in physical locations to provide shoppers with the benefit of an interactive in-person experience without needing to carry inventory.

These “invisible” or virtual storefronts – usually in the form of augmented reality content visible via smartphones – are being used to drive sales, collect data and boost branding efforts. At a time when physical retail is struggling, such mobile initiatives aren’t just eye-catching, they’re more convenient by providing curated products that can then be delivered on demand. 

To date, we’ve seen brands doing everything from collaborating with artists and social media platforms to creating personalized assortments using such virtual setups. Shoppability is key. Here’s a highlight of some of the more recent success stories…

Havaianas
Havaianas’s boardwalk virtual store

Early this summer, footwear brand Havaianas launched a virtual storefront focused on driving sales for one day only. Located on the Venice Beach boardwalk in Los Angeles, shoppers passing by a colorful mural discovered it was actually a virtual pop-up store. Snapping a photo of the designs they liked directed them to a shoppable microsite at  StepIntoSummer.com, revealing a curated style guide with various tips on what to buy. 

The concept was powered by Google’s Cloud Vision AI platform, which helped Havaianas pair merchandise with colors from the mural – a big step up from QR codes. The brand collaborated with street artist Buff Monster on the mural and featured fashion tips from stylist Tara Swennen.

Lego
Lego’s augmented reality store

To promote its first limited-edition clothing line for adults, Lego opened a pop-up shop with a twist in February: the store was entirely empty. Shoppers in London’s Soho neighbourhood arrived to find a Snapcode (a QR code for Snapchat) displayed on a pedestal. Scanning the code with their phones then surrounded them with a virtual storefront in AR. 

Customers could choose between three different types of merchandise – sweatshirts, caps and t-shirts – and view them on a Lego character. The pieces then sold through an integrated “Shop Now” feature on Snapchat, which led shoppers through to a dedicated e-commerce page that displayed the products on a real-life model, enabling them to choose their size before completing purchase.

Macy’s
Macy’s Santa Monica Pier displays

Macy’s partnered with Pinterest to display scannable Pincodes at vibrant gathering spots in the US, such as Central Park in New York and the Santa Monica Pier in LA. Scanning a code took shoppers to a Pinterest board curated with ideal summer looks for their location with links to the online store. 

Unlike most immersive retail experiences that are fixed to a specific location, or indeed online only, this campaign was designed to inspire customers with virtual catalogs that meet them where they are. 

Nike
The Nike Air Jordan III “Tinker” sold out on Snapchat

Nike is another that has been experimenting with the idea of using specific virtual spaces to release new products. In 2018 it also used Snapchat, this time to release its Air Jordan III “Tinker” for those in attendance at the NBA All-Star after-party only.

 Achieved via a partnership between Nike, Snap, Darkstore and Shopify, users could scan exclusive Snap codes to buy and receive the shoes by 10:30pm that same night. All of them sold out within 23 minutes.

Outdoor Voices
Outdoor Voices augmented reality experience

Austin-based activewear brand Outdoor Voices launched an augmented reality app experience at SXSW in 2018 that encouraged fans to get outdoors to find particular virtual products in the middle of the park. Once discovered, users could explore them in 360-degrees, find out more information as well as click to purchase.

How are you thinking about new technology? 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. Each of the rules referenced above is matched by one of our products and services. Interested in how? Get in touch to learn more.

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Editor's pick product Retail

Chanel’s new beauty wonderland invites fans to slow down and discover


Chanel has launched a new beauty retail concept in NYC where it is inviting fans to discover and play with the line’s range through interactive experiences that encourages them to slow down. The store, called Atelier Beauté Chanel, offers trial experiences as well as appointment-only events and services, such as makeup lessons, with the brand’s artists-in-residence.

Upon entering the store, guests are given personal lockers to keep their belongings in, so they are free to browse the displays. They are then prompted to create a personal profile on their phones in order to keep track of the items they have tried and liked. This profile will also allow them to book for other one-to-one experiences in the future.

Sinks for hand and face washing are also available at the store entrance, further setting a tone: this is not a place where clients are encouraged to rush in and rush out.

The space is heavy on experiences, such as encountering a mysterious black door labeled “Atelier Parfum Chanel”. Guests must make a reservation to visit this space, which is a no-spray counter where they are invited to blindly sniff scented porcelain testers labeled with numbers instead of names. It’s an exciting way to discover a scent without being influenced by the color of the perfume or the design of the bottle, but simply its smell. It’s also a great way to step outside the box of feminine and masculine labels: according to Chanel’s perfume expert, most women choose a men’s fragrance and vice-versa.

At the perfume bar, clients save the numbers of the scents they like through the mobile website. After they’re done, the site reveals the names of the fragrances and saves their order. Guests leave with a doubled-C branded bracelet dipped in their preferred scent to take home.

Atelier Beauté Chanel

Other experiences in-store further push the discovery of the label’s makeup and skincare ranges. At the makeup area, counters are divided by different areas of the face. For example “Skin Enhances” for foundation and concealers, and “Eye Definers” for mascaras, eyeliners, shadows and brow products. A lip bar is by far the most visually appealing, as it displays lipstick pigments on a wall not too dissimilar from an upmarket paint store.

Meanwhile over at the skincare counter, store associates are on hand to talk customers through their personal skincare routines. Customers are then offered two different sample packages to purchase, varying by length of the routine they hope to achieve. Once the customer is happy with their purchase at home, the purchase price can be redeemed against store credit to buy any full-size foundation or skincare products on Chanel.com

As brands strive to become increasingly digitised and push for convenience at their retail spaces, Atelier Beauté Chanel proves the opposite. Here, slow luxury still has plenty of room to play and engage with an audience that is craving experiences that allow them to take a minute and wander.

How are you thinking about retail 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.

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Retail

Ba&sh’s new NY store offers free clothing rentals

Ba&sh in New York City

French label Ba&sh’s new store in New York allows shoppers to borrow the brand’s clothes at no cost, as long as they are returned after the weekend.

The 1,700-square-foot space, located in Soho, aims to act as a “dream closet” and position the brand as a friend the customer can borrow clothes from whenever they have a special event. Customers borrowing clothes can only do so every Friday between 5-7pm, and they must be returned by Monday at 7pm.

The opening is part of a bigger expansion strategy from the company in the North American market, as well as a customer engagement push that includes a series of permanent in-store activities.

“It’s an experiential store, the first one designed to thoughtfully elevate the existing experience to a new level. The store was a natural evolution. Our brand has always been rooted in special relationships,” said global CEO, Pierre-Arnaud Grenade, to WWD.

The brand, which currently operates 200 stores globally but only five in the US, hopes the new space also works for customer awareness and acquisition – by making clothes available to rent free of charge, it allows customers to discover the brand more easily. For this launch, a pop-up area will promote other French brands who have no US presence, such as jewelry label Atelier Paulin and luxury candlemaker Baobab.

The space will also offer a series of events that encourage customers to bring a friend, such as monthly supper clubs, weekly French lessons (of which 75% of the cost is subsidized by the brand), weekly complimentary French breakfast and a children’s play area so customers can shop in peace.

As part of the strategy, the brand’s e-commerce team has also relocated to the city. Currently, 20% of the brand’s US sales are completed online, which is higher than the rest of the world.

The moves comes as consumers increasingly look to the notion of the sharing economy – borrowing or renting items rather than having ownership of them. It’s through this that businesses including Rent the Runway have grown in relevancy in today’s market. One  fifth of millennials reportedly now say they would consider renting clothing, according to Hammerson and Verdict.

How are you thinking about retail innovation? 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.