Categories
e-commerce Editor's pick mobile Retail technology

6 loyalty activations driving customer engagement

Today’s consumers are increasingly spoilt by choice, meaning brands  have to work harder than ever to earn any level of loyalty. That hasn’t stopped many from trying however. 

In today’s retail climate, personalization is king, with customers seeking brands that tailor their products and services to their behaviors. When done correctly,  loyalty programs not only respond to that need, but can generate over 20% of a company’s profits, according to McKinsey

Retailers across the board – from larger names like Target and Nordstrom to standalone brands like Nike – are revamping their traditional spend-and-reward offerings to add layers of digital that respond to the modern consumer.

From tapping into an engaged community and encouraging gamified behavior, to pushing personalized spending in-store, here we highlight some of the most innovative loyalty approaches:

FOSTERING COMMUNITY

Victoria's Secret PINK NATION
Victoria’s Secret PINK NATION

One of the cornerstones of the Victoria’s Secret’s PINK brand, is its college ambassador program, which recruits university students across the country representatives. The role is not too dissimilar from a social media influencer, with responsibilities including promoting the brand on social, offering followers advice and organizing campus events and get-togethers. Ambassadors dedicate up to 10-hours a week to their roles for free, and see this as an opportunity to build a personal brand with PINK’s support.

The brand’s loyalty program, PINK NATION, has also received an upgrade and launched its very first app, aiming to emulate a girl’s club. This includes exclusive member perks as well as a dedicated Campus tab where customers can chat with ambassadors. Ultimately, the brand wants to scale to include more college-life related content.

Flipkart-owned fashion retailer Myntra also took a similar crowdsourced approach to loyalty when it launched the Shopping Groups feature in 2017, in the run-up to its  End Of Reason Sale (otherwise known as EORS). Shoppers could team up with their friends and families on the platform to shopping groups, where all purchases were tallied together to unlock further special discounts for the whole group. 

The retailer reported almost 100,000 shopping groups being formed during the sale as a result, contributing to around 18% of sales.

INCENTIVIZING ACTION

Nike Plus
Nike Plus

Starbucks boasts one of the most successful retail apps to date with 23.5m active users. In order to encourage loyalty and get more customers to join its booming loyalty program that sits alongside (15m users), it launched a gamification experience called the Summer Game Boardwalk this year. 

Anyone could play the virtual board game, which prompted users to tap a spinner and advance steps in order to tally points, similar to a game of Monopoly. At the end, loyalty members received points towards their accounts, while general app users were prompted to join the program in order to receive the same.

Meanwhile this year NikePlus added a number of interactive experiences for its members, extending the remit of physical activity into wider lifestyles. Nike collaborated with three key partners to do so – Apple Music, mindfulness app Headspace, and gym booking app ClassPass, to encourage consumers to be active in order to receive more rewards. For example, if the user completed and logged a workout within the app, it would unlock free Apple Music playlists.

With this program, the sportswear brand is hoping to triple its 100m user membership number.

DRIVING IN-STORE ENGAGEMENT 

Inside the Philosophy skincare Manhattan store
Inside the Philosophy skincare Manhattan store

According to research company Bond, 95% of loyalty members want to engage with brands via new technologies. In-store, deploying digital tools is an opportunity for brands to engage and acquire new loyal customers at the point of sale, when demand is at its highest.

At Coty-owned make up brand Philosophy’s flagship in Manhattan, loyal customers are recognized and rewarded via facial recognition. Upon entering the store, customers are asked to take a selfie with their own phones and send it to a designated phone number. Registered customers can then be recognized on screens, which offers them special discounts. Over time, customers are pushed more tailored notifications and one-to-one consultants based on previous behavior.

Also in New York, is Nordstrom’s new menswear store, which is offering a higher level of service for its newly revamped Nordy Club loyalty program members. Customers shopping online can receive items to then try-on at that specific location. When physically approaching the store, customers receive an app notification giving them precise information on the location of their reserved item.

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about helping you build innovative integrations and experiences. TheCurrent is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology, powered by a network of top startups. Get in touch to learn more.

Categories
Editor's pick Podcast Retail technology

How Tim Kobe shaped Apple and the future of retail

Rachel Arthur and Tim Kobe
Rachel Arthur and Tim Kobe

The type of experiences a retailer brings to their stores shouldn’t be determined by what the competition is doing, but ultimately what’s relevant to each brand, argues Tim Kobe, founder and CEO of strategic design firm Eight Inc, on the latest episode of TheCurrent Innovators podcast.

Kobe is known as the designer behind the original Apple store, which arguably paved the way for what modern day customer experience in retail looks like. But his view is that too many brands are jumping on the “experience” bandwagon because their peers are, and not thinking about how important it is to be sincere to their values.

Listen here: Apple Podcasts | Android | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS

“People have started to expect that the values that the brand is standing for, the thing its known for, is going to come through in the experience,” he explains. It’s only by doing so that will you create experiences consumers want to share, he notes.

He’s been doing that since he founded Eight Inc in 1989 and first worked with Apple, under the direction of late founder Steve Jobs, in 1996. His focus was on moving the store from “a transaction space into a culture space”.

Retail has of course evolved significantly since then, largely thanks to the evolution of technology, e-commerce and the mobile devices shoppers now carry everyday. But what hasn’t changed is human connection, Kobe explains.

“To me the human interaction supercedes all of the tech, all of the AI… I use the iPod as an example. No one remembers how much memory it had, no one remembers how many centimetres thick it was, or millimetres – what they remember is a 1,000 songs in your pocket. It goes back to, ultimately, any product has values if it delivers on human outcomes.”

It’s for that very reason, he argues that the future of retail has to be about the future of human interactions. “[It’s about] understanding what people are doing and how they’re interacting with one another… We have to get back to understanding a bit more about the most successful human interactions that you can create. Put the technology in the background, put it behind, but let the human interactions and that contact be the thing that we get smarter at, the thing that we get better at.”

In this episode with TheCurrent’s Rachel Arthur, he also talks about the idea of “monochannel retail”, which is all about using digital and physical spaces simultaneously, dives into his work in China with brands including Xiaomi and Lincoln, and explains just how brands can get past the format fatigue we’re seeing in stores worldwide today.

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

Categories
Editor's pick Podcast Retail

Lego on the importance of play at retail

Lego's Martin Urrutia with Rachel Arthur
Lego’s Martin Urrutia with Rachel Arthur

Lego’s most important feedback often comes from six year-olds, says the brand’s head of retail innovation, Martin Urrutia, on the latest episode of TheCurrent Innovators podcast.

Speaking to Rachel Arthur at this year’s World Retail Congress in Madrid, Urrutia says focusing on the relationship between the user and the brick, and constantly listening to consumers’ wants and needs, has been pivotal to the Danish brand’s longevity.

Listen here: Apple Podcasts | Android | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS

“Prior to rolling out anything important in our stores we actually sit at a table and present this to children and listen to them. And of course sometimes you say ‘Am I going to let a six or eight year old child tell me what to do in store?’ and the answer is yes, of course. If you present this to them, if you listen to the feedback, it’s going to be interesting,” he explains. “I’ve seen so many companies changing their essence and changing many things,” he says, “and the only question that comes to my mind is – have they really asked their core users what they want?”

In order to serve all types of consumers with the right interaction, the brand prides itself on being truly shopper-centric. Understanding the consumer is particularly key to a brand that is in the unique position of having such a vast fanbase – from small children to much older adults. This means engaging with core fans through a continuous conversation informs not only R&D, but also store design and interactive experiences. There have been many ideas that looked good on paper but were scrapped when they received negative feedback from real consumers or partner retailers, Urrutia explains, for instance.

Lego's AR in-store
Lego’s AR in-store

During the episode, he talks to the idea of store experiences that engender memories, and always bringing in an element of play to everything the brand does. Such is the importance of the physical toy for the 85-year-old company, in fact, that it is often found in its meeting rooms worldwide, and its workforce takes one day a year to put work aside and play with the brick themselves. This internal strategy feeds into a larger purpose that encourages customers to play and engage with the toys at any given moment – be it at home or in any one of the brand’s increasing retail spaces.

Throughout the conversation, Urrutia also explains about the importance of choosing the right technology for retail; both that which is easy for staff and customers alike to interact with, but also simple to update and scale. He also notes other imperative brick-and-mortar retail tools, such as an invested and knowledgeable staff, as well as ensuring that there is something for everyone within that physical space.

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

Categories
digital snippets e-commerce product Startups sustainability technology

ICYMI: L’Oréal is growing skin, Maersk’s blockchain for logistics, top tech for retail

L'Oréal is testing lab-grown reconstructed skin
L’Oréal is testing lab-grown reconstructed skin

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

TOP STORIES
  • L’Oréal is growing Chinese skin to test products [Bloomberg]
  • IBM partners with shipping giant Maersk to launch blockchain solution for global logistics [Bitcoinist]
  • 5 technologies transforming retail in 2018 [BoF]
TECHNOLOGY
  • Alibaba’s AI beats humans in reading test [Xinhuanet]
  • Amazon’s Alexa could start giving out opinions [RetailDive]
  • Six ways that new technology will revolutionize shopping [Wired]
SUSTAINABILITY
  • Why Nike sees social responsibility as an opportunity to innovate [Fast Company]
  • Zara, Kering, Ganni, Reformation vow to increase sustainability efforts by 2020 [TheFashionLaw]
MARKETING
  • How Kiehl’s is using text messages and AI to keep customers loyal [Glossy]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Beauty brands are remaking the peer-to-peer sales model for a digital age [Glossy]
  • Rent the Runway to deploy self-scanning kiosks [Retail Dive]
PRODUCT
  • Adidas joins Carbon’s board as its 3D printed shoes finally drop [TechCrunch]
  • Meet designer Christopher Bevans, winner of the Woolmark Prize for Innovation [HighSnobiety]
STARTUPS
  • True Fit raises $55M to personalize clothes shopping with AI [SiliconAngle]
  • Highsnobiety secures $8.5M from Felix Capital to woo millennial males [TechCrunch]
Categories
data e-commerce technology

Four quick highlights from NRF 2018

NRF 2018
NRF 2018

NRF’s Big Show hit New York once again this week with an expo floor covering every form of technology modern retailers need today*, and big topics of conversation pointing to the future of the industry.

From a topline perspective, focus was on everything from personalization through artificial intelligence, to the need for speed, enabling a frictionless experience as well as the increasing demand for invisibility in technology.

Personalization

Artificial intelligence remains one of the hot terms in the industry today – machine learning, computer vision, natural language processing and chatbots were found left, right and center across NRF. Underlying that in terms of the reason it matters, however, was a focus on personalization for customers. Neiman Marcus’ president and CEO, Karen Katz, talked to the challenge of shifting from being a retailer that nails this in store through the human-to-human experience, and now trying to replicate that in the online world. “Online is where the next level is presenting itself for [service-oriented] personalization,” she said.

Speed

Spencer Fung, CEO of Li & Fung, talked to the idea of the industry shifting from being optimized by cost, to finding competitive advantage in speed. As an industry, the time it takes to get from ideas to stores has only extended by virtue of parts of the supply chain located further and further away. “This cost optimization model in a world where consumers are moving 10x faster is no longer valid. You can no longer make decisions today on what will sell in 40-50 weeks time,” he said. The supply chain of the future, underpinned by new technology, is predicated by speed.

Invisibility

While technology is so central to the NRF scene, the discussion for retailers is increasingly around how to make this invisible for consumers. “The most relevant future innovation platforms are ones that consumers don’t see,” said Levi’s brand president James JC Curleigh. He talked to the idea of complete simplicity on the front end, all the while there’s increasing sophistication behind-the-scenes. Intel’s chief innovation officer, Stacey Shulman, agreed with this point, telling us: “Technology should never be at the forefront from a consumer perspective, it just needs to be the helper at the back. It’s what enables sales associates to get back to the customer and back to what’s important.”

Frictionless

In the context of NRF, the word “omnichannel” is an oft-overused one. This year, however, it was the idea of making retail frictionless that was bandied about more predominantly. Neiman Marcus’ Katz talked to this as being one of the organization’s greatest challenges. Calling it frictionless retail is about having greater scope for every touchpoint, she suggested. Nordstrom’s SVP of customer experience, Shea Jensen, meanwhile, told us her focus is on providing convenience; doing things in the context of continuously solving customer problems.

*Want to know which technologies we deemed most relevant from the show floor? Our team of startup scouts combed through the innovations demonstrated, examining and analyzing those of chief importance to retailers and brands today. Get in touch to find out more.

Categories
business data digital snippets e-commerce Startups sustainability technology

What you missed: retail’s existential reckoning, Echo Dot is the Christmas best seller, bots on the rise

2017 was the year of retail’s existential reckoning
2017 was the year of retail’s existential reckoning

A round-up of everything you might have missed in relevant fashion business, digital comms and tech industry news over the final fortnight of 2017.


TOP STORIES
  • 2017 was the year of retail’s existential reckoning [Quartz]
  • The Echo Dot was the best-selling product on all of Amazon this holiday season [TechCrunch]
  • Bots are about to get better at customer support than humans [Wired]
  • The last days of Colette [Garage]

BUSINESS
  • Retailers feel shoppers’ Christmas cheer [WSJ]
  • Jonathan Saunders steps down from DVF role [Guardian]
  • Meet Oscar Olsson, the mind behind H&M’s new brand for millennials [TheCut]
  • Reformation raises $25 million to fuel brick-and-mortar growth [BoF]
  • Clothing companies are trashing unsold merchandise instead of donating it [TheOutline]
  • With Phoebe Philo leaving Céline, what’s next? [BoF]
  • UK cotton back in production in Manchester [BBC]

MARKETING
  • Adidas brings all-star talent and tech to the table [BrandChannel]

E-COMMERCE
  • Prada launches e-commerce platform in China [Reuters]
  • The fake news of e-commerce [Racked]
  • There’s money to be made in returning e-commerce orders [LA Times]
  • What fashion brands can learn from Nike’s first six months as an Amazon partner [Glossy]
  • E-commerce company ThredUP rolls out AI-powered ‘goody boxes’ to rival discount clothing chains [AdWeek]

STORES
  • Walmart is developing a personal-shopper service for rich moms — and a store with no cashiers [Recode]
  • Sephora mastered in-store sales by investing in data and cutting-edge technology [AdWeek]

TECHNOLOGY
  • This is Magic Leap’s mixed reality headset [Engadget]
  • If the bitcoin bubble bursts, this is what will happen next [Wired]
  • Mall of America gets high-tech with chatbot and humanoid robots [Racked]
  • Ikea is stepping into virtual reality by creating a game for new store openings [AdWeek]
  • Beauty tech made major strides in 2017, and it’s only the beginning [Fashionista]

START-UPS
  • Target to buy Shipt for $550 million in challenge to Amazon [Bloomberg]
  • Meet the nanotech scientist who used her mad skills to build a better party clutch [FastCompany]
Categories
business data digital snippets e-commerce film social media Startups sustainability technology

What you missed: Amazon’s big data ambitions and on-demand textiles, Facebook’s VR, a sustainability deep dive

Amazon's Echo Look
Amazon’s Echo Look

A round-up of everything you might have missed in relevant fashion business, digital comms and tech industry news over the past fortnight.


TOP STORIES
  • Amazon’s big data fuelled fashion ambitions [TechCrunch]
  • Amazon wins patent for on-demand textile manufacturing [Retail Dive]
  • Facebook launches VR project Facebook Spaces [The Drum]
  • Tech tackles the fitting room [Racked]

BUSINESS
  • LVMH takes control of Christian Dior in $13 billion deal [BoF]
  • Hermès joins trend of accelerating luxury sales growth [Business Insider]
  • Kit and Ace shutters all stores worldwide, except in native Canada [Retail Dive]
  • Retail workers fight to get a cut in the era of e-commerce [Racked]
  • Debenhams unveils its turnaround strategy [The Industry]

SUSTAINABILITY
  • How to cut carbon emissions as e-commerce soars [Bain & Co]
  • Are fashion’s recycling schemes as effective as they seem? [The Fashion Law]
  • Is deadstock the future of sustainable fashion? [Fashionista]
  • The myth of closed-loop manufacturing [Glossy]
  • How much has actually changed 4 years on from the Rana Plaza collapse? [Refinery29]
  • Why is fashion still sleeping on all-natural dyes? [Fashionista]

SOCIAL MEDIA
  • How brands are finally cashing in on social with shoppable Instagram Stories and Snapchat ads [AdWeek]
  • Why does the term ‘influencer’ feel so gross? [Man Repeller]
  • Rue21, mode-ai launch virtual stylist with Facebook Messenger group feature [Retail Dive]

MARKETING
  • The state of data strategy in fashion and retail [Glossy]
  • Do podcasts make you wanna shop? [Racked]
  • John Lewis unveils experiential National Treasures summer campaign [The Industry]
  • Mytheresa.com teams with Miu Miu on capsule, fashion film [WWD]

RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Macy’s and the survival of retailing [Bloomberg]
  • Why retailers are trying on showrooms [Retail Dive]

TECHNOLOGY
  • Amazon builds team for autonomous vehicle technology [AutoNews]
  • Burt’s Nature showcases the Burt of Burt’s Bees in VR [The Drum]
  • Estée Lauder’s augmented reality efforts focus on Europe [L2]

START-UPS
  • Walmart’s tech incubator hires co-founder of Rent the Runway [Bloomberg]
Categories
e-commerce social media

Gen Z might be driven by digital, but they still prefer the in-store experience

Lilly Pulitzer tapped Gen Z with an in-store Snapchat campaign
Lilly Pulitzer tapped Gen Z with an in-store Snapchat campaign

Over 60% of Generation Z (16- to 21-year-olds) in the US prefer to shop at physical stores, according to a new report by Euclid Analytics.

Its study revealed that digital touchpoints – such as social media, the brand’s website or even targeted emails – drive Gen Z to research and find the products they want, but then tend to push them to an in-store purchase.

With that in mind, it suggests that in order to truly engage with this mobile-first generation – one that is set to reach 2.6 billion in population by 2020 and hold an estimated $44 billion in buying power, according to the National Retail Federation – retailers must strike the right balance between personalised digital methods and compelling in-store experiences.

66% of Gen Z shoppers still like to shop in-store because they want to touch, hold and try on products before buying, it explains, while 28% want to engage with sales associates, the most of any generation.

They are often mission-based, with only 47% of surveyed liking to browse. That’s seemingly because 31% of these shoppers believe it’s hard to find items they are looking for in-store. To engage with this notoriously brand-disloyal generation, wayfinding strategies should therefore be of top priority for retailers, Euclid Analytics suggests.

As consumer expectations continue to rise, Gen Z are particularly picky when it comes to controlling their experience too, with 26% expecting retailers to offer a more personalised experience based on their shopping habits and preferences. This is the most out of all demographics – seemingly the younger they are, the more demanding, with 22% of Millennials expecting the same, followed by 17% of Gen X and 11% of Boomers.

Among all generations, discount offers remain the top reason people use their smartphones in stores (44%), while 36% state they use their phones to check information on loyalty programmes.

Picking the right social media platform to engage with this young shopper means understanding their nuanced behaviours throughout the path to purchase. 45% of Gen Z shoppers use Instagram to find new products, followed by Facebook at 40%. Once in-store, they switch to Snapchat (44%) to share the experience, followed by only 16% of Millennials who do the same. The platform switch is most likely to do with the fleeting, in-the-moment nature of Snapchat content, while geotagged brand filters also play a big role.

Gen Z shoppers expect stores to enable their social sharing behaviour, with 53% agreeing that the top amenity they expect in-store is free WiFi, while retail apps that offer click and collect services lag behind at 30%.

The Euclid Analytics “Evolution of Retail: 2017 Gen Z Shopper Report” surveyed 1,500 US smartphone users in different age groups, demographics, household incomes and shopping preferences to uncover these latest insights.

Categories
business e-commerce

Alibaba’s “new retail” model: a better omnichannel experience for luxury Consumers?

Luxury brands in China may have opportunities for better online to offline integration under Alibaba's "new retail" model (Shutterstock)
Luxury brands in China may have opportunities for better online to offline integration under Alibaba’s “new retail” model (Image: Shutterstock)

In just a few years, the explosive development of the e-commerce industry in China has led to the revolutionary transformation of the ways in which luxury brands do business there. Alibaba group has played a crucial role in shaking up the traditional retail sector, but now, the e-commerce giant is bucking the trend by buying up brick-and-mortar stores. With what it calls the “new retail” model, Alibaba is likely to bring big changes to the country’s retail landscape yet again, signalling an opportunity for luxury brands to consider what this can mean for their customer experience.

Last week, Alibaba announced its strategic partnership with Bailian Group, the largest brick-and-mortar retailer by store numbers in China. The deal is the latest move by the company to develop its “new retail” model—a concept first put forward by Jack Ma in 2016. By combining its e-commerce platform with traditional retail physical infrastructure, the new model attempts to create a brand new shopping experience for customers and disrupt the traditional logistics operations of brands by using the latest technologies, such as big data and artificial intelligence.

Over the past year, Alibaba has aggressively acquired sizable Chinese retailers of different types. It has formed partnerships with supermarket retailer Bailian Group, high-end retailer Yintai Group (owner of Intime Department Stores), electronics retailer Suning Commercial Group, and several others.

Alibaba’s “new retail” model could entirely transform the retail landscape in China if it succeeds. Luxury brands could potentially benefit as this new model can provide them an opportunity to offer better omnichannel experiences to consumers. China has seen a wave of store closures by veteran players such as Louis Vuitton and Gucci over the past two years as more luxury retailers now embrace digital channels to sell goods. However, the importance of an in-store experience that distinguishes a luxury brand from its competition is still critical.

A 2016 study by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) revealed that omnichannel retailing is demanded by more than 80 percent of luxury shoppers, and a joint study by ContactLab and Exane BNP Paribas pointed out that brick and mortar department stores on average deliver a better omnichannel retailing experience in comparison with stores featuring a single designer.

Luxury brands today need to become capable of taking care of both the digital and brick and mortar aspects of retail, but the financial constraints and the current social and economic outlook in China can make it difficult to emphasise both adequately.

It’s worth noting also that the process of online/offline integration in China is different from the West, where the retailer or brand is the main operator of its e-commerce platforms. But there are certain e-commerce platforms in China that are more forward-looking than others.

5lux.com is a Chinese luxury e-commerce site that pioneers in integrating online and offline channels
5lux.com is a Chinese luxury e-commerce site that pioneers in integrating online and offline channels

For instance, 5lux.com, a Chinese luxury e-commerce site, has, since 2016, aggressively promoted what it describes as an “online to offline (O2O)” business model. Having business relations with luxury brands including Dior, Gucci, and Bvlgari among others, 5lux.com offers its customers options to order products online and collect their purchases in store, or alternatively, buy products in stores and have them delivered. A 2016 report by the accounting firm PwC noted that the availability of different options is helpful for improving the business-to-customer interaction, which can turn into an opportunity to understand customers’ preferences. The transparency provided by this digital platform can also help brands optimise their inventory management.

Alibaba’s ambitions go far beyond the 5lux.com model. “Our partnership is not to strengthen the existing retailing pattern that people are familiar with,” Daniel Zhang, Alibaba’s chief executive officer said at a press conference. “We hope to see chemical reactions. If we can incubate a type of business model that others have never seen, then we are on the right track.”

Luca Solca, the head of luxury goods at Exane BNP Paribas, takes a more cautious stance on Alibaba’s latest moves. “I do think it is a must for incumbent retail companies—of which luxury goods brands are a subset—to integrate legacy assets with digital developments,” he said. “Having said that, I find that digital champions moving the other way is peculiar—especially if this involved material capital expenditure investments, as it would dilute return on invested capital (ROIC).”

By Yiling Pan @SiennaPan

This article was originally published on Jing Daily, a Fashion & Mash content partner.

Categories
Editor's pick technology

Coach to launch virtual reality show experience in select US stores

The Coach 1941 autumn/winter 2017/18 show will be available as a virtual reality experience in certain stores
The Coach 1941 autumn/winter 2017/18 show will be available as a VR experience in certain stores

Coach is inviting shoppers to experience its latest runway show using virtual reality in ten Simon malls across the US.

The initiative, running in collaboration with IMG, will see VR headsets in select Coach stores providing full access to the show in stereoscopic sound from February 17.

“Coach and IMG didn’t want to venture into this unless the technology was at a point where watching a runway show online would give you a better experience than being there in the flesh,” Mark Shapiro, co-president of WME | IMG told BoF. He said virtual and augmented reality have been a priority for the company over the last year. “We’re bringing online audiences closer to fashion. And that’s something that I think is paramount for the industry going forward.”

The aim is to use the campaign to turn buzz around the show into actual sales. Certain stores will offer a free “Rexy” dinosaur bag charm with any $300 purchase, for instance, and the Roosevelt Field location will reportedly give away 75 “Rexy” editor’s envelopes holding tickets to a future New York Fashion Week show.

The VR experience will also be extended to a wider consumer base than those visiting physical locations, thanks to Facebook 360, YouTube and VR networks.

Coach follows in the footsteps of brands including Tommy Hilfiger, Rebecca Minkoff, Dior and Topshop, who have all used virtual reality in a bid to drive traffic into stores in the past. Usually that follows six months later as the line in question hit the shelves. This example is immediately following the runway, albeit still showing a future season (autumn/winter 2017).

The show itself (Coach 1941) took place in New York yesterday, streamed exclusively via Instagram Live, which has also been gaining traction this season.

The Coach 1941 autumn/winter 2017/18 show streamed via Instagram Live
The Coach 1941 autumn/winter 2017/18 show streamed via Instagram Live