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business e-commerce Editor's pick

8 unique e-commerce sites you need to bookmark immediately

Bow & Drape
Bow & Drape

As with everything digital – noise is one of the greatest barriers to success. With more players in the space, comes increased difficulty around standing out. E-commerce business is no different.

Responsive mobile sites and extensive product detail – once considered special features – are now points of parity. Ideas like free shipping, blog content and wish lists are commonplace. With consumer expectations at an all-time high, going above and beyond is harder than ever too.

Today, landing the claim of “hidden gem” particularly is no small feat. Up against established names including Net-a-Porter and Zappos, through to Farfetch, Lyst, Zalando and more, start-ups and smaller players must increasingly find ways to differentiate themselves in order to get seen. After all, it’s not just about giving shoppers reasons to visit, but convincing them it’s worth hanging around long enough to spend too.

While the specifics vary, the bulk of the success stories can be summarised under three headings: exclusivity, editorial and user experience. Read on for a highlight of eight lesser-known or particularly unique names worth checking out:


1. Shop-GhostShopghost

For a curator of high-end designer pieces, Shop-Ghost does nothing like its competition. The website is quirky and drunk with dizzied content, but somehow, it works. Tumblr-style clustered graphics are met with fragmented thoughts in “blog posts” that suggest pieces to fit the mood. The website is not searchable, does not bother with filters and offers anything BUT a clean interface. The zine formatting even forces users off the site to make the actual purchase. This is the digital version of the cluttered shop that oozes cool and finds you fleeing with three bags in tow. www.shopghost.com


2. Bow & Drape

Bow & Drape

Bow & Drape finds its niche right at the cusp of where young Millennials match up with Gen Z. This pop culture hub plays right into its market, updating simple garments with customisable and glittered-emoji makeovers, finished with the catchphrase du jour. A shoppable Instagram section also sees a witty artful take on meme-manufacturing, keyed in on ‘90s nostalgia and modern trends. www.bowanddrape.com


3. Semaine

Semaine

Each week, Semaine focuses on a new tastemaker, allowing a completely shoppable behind-the-curtains reveal into their lives. Monday begins with a short film or profile of the individual in question, while each subsequent day then features another glance into their lives, ranging from their beauty regimes to the dust collectors on their bookshelves. www.semaine.com


4. The Iconic

The Iconic

If you’re in Australia – this name won’t be new to you. For everyone else, it’s worth knowing for the unique fashion glossary on offer – a categorisation feature every site should consider implementing. The fashion conscious shopper is able to use it as a tool to quickly navigate the expansive site offerings in search of their unique piece. The fashion newcomer, however, gets a complete education in images akin to a more accurate and completely shoppable Google Image search. www.theiconic.com.au


5. Brika

Brika

Brika is the perfect online destination for the shopper with DIY pipedreams, but lack of skills to deliver. Each day, a new artist is introduced on the homepage with their story and collection featured. In search of art, home décor, jewelry, accessories or even little knick-knacks for kids, this is the destination that breeds the perfect kitsch meets craft item. www.brika.com


6. Shoes of Prey

Shoes of Prey

For the love of shoes, a woman need look no further than Shoes of Prey, which enables users to customise every aspect of their footwear, from sole to zipper. What makes this a standout offering is the expansive colour selection and a complete 360-degree view of the final designs. www.shoesofprey.com


7. Of a Kind

Of a Kind

This one may already be on your list – if it’s not, it’s really time to bookmark it. An online concept store, it specialises in limited runs of items created especially for its website. The supply side of the operation comes from emerging designers, which further appeals to the quaint luxury of the setup. The special items are deemed “# of a kind”, letting the consumer know just how unique their buy is. Each item is also paired with a beautifully photographed story, similar pieces to curate a collection and non-exclusive add-ons that make the look. www.ofakind.com


8. Vide Dressing

Vide Dressing

The consignment model is completely revamped by Vide Dressing – the eBay of the pre-owned luxury fashion market. Sellers post their goods, get them checked over by a legal team for authenticity and then have 72 hours to ship to their buyer after purchase. The unique feature that sets Vide Dressing apart from competitors such as Vestiaire Collective is a money-back guarantee within 48 hours of product receipt. www.videdressing.co.uk

Categories
business e-commerce Editor's pick technology

Drone delivery is upticking for retailers, but Uber also has big plans for shoppers

Amazone Drone Delivery

Drones are back on the retail radar again, this time in Australia where e-commerce site The Iconic has announced its intentions to use them to deliver goods within the next two to five years.

The company’s CEO, Patrick Schmidt, told the Australian Financial Review his customers would benefit from speedy drone delivery. “We are pioneers of fast and flexible delivery, and we push the boundaries on delivery, so it’s something we are thinking about,” he explained.

The website already offers three-hour delivery in Sydney and same-day services in Melbourne, but is in constant competition with international players often able to ship items in as fast as local companies can across the country otherwise.

Regulations stand in the way of drones yet being a reality however. “Delivery via drone is not yet regulated, so it probably depends on the legislators on whether that would be possible … but in the technology space, things happen fast, so you never know,” Schmidt said optimistically.

Meanwhile in the US, Amazon is getting closer to its reality of “Prime Air” – a delivery system that aims to get packages into customers’ hands in 30 minutes or less using small unmanned aerial vehicles. It has recently been granted authority by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to test this concept, albeit with the restriction of the drones flying under 400 feet, at a maximum speed of 100 miles per hour, and remaining within the pilot’s line of sight.

The move has been hailed a victory for the e-commerce company. It will also likely set a path for other businesses to follow. “Putting Prime Air into service will take some time, but we will deploy when we have the regulatory support needed to realize our vision,” reads the page on Amazon’s website dedicated to the program. “One day, seeing Prime Air vehicles will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road,” it continues.

Fashion and retail brands have been experimenting with drones over the past year or so elsewhere too, albeit largely to generate PR around a newsworthy subject. Fendi put them on the runway during Milan Fashion Week in order to stream content to a live audience online, while more recently, Crocs used them in Japan to deliver shoes straight from shelves to customers as a promotion for how light its new Norlin sneaker is. A recent article published by i-D also explored all the (slightly ridiculous) ways in which drones and wearables are combining from a fashion perspective.

When it comes to shopping however, the other piece of big news in terms of delivery over the past week was about Uber’s plans to launch a major merchant program in the US through its UberRush couriers and Uber drivers.

The move will provide retailers with the ability to get goods from local stores to shoppers within the same-day. Neiman Marcus, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co and more are all said to be in discussions. According to TechCrunch, there could be as many as 400 different merchants currently in talks.

“It’s not hard to imagine Uber combining [verticals like] fresh food, restaurant food, home goods, online purchase orders, and more, into a single logistics framework that is dispatched to its thousands of drivers and couriers. A driver could theoretically have Johnny’s pizza in the front seat, Jenny’s new Louis Vuitton bag in the trunk, and you in the backseat,” the article reads.

Perhaps what we need is for Uber and Amazon’s Prime Air team to partner up – when the traffic gets all too much for the Uber deliveries to be efficient, said driver could be well placed as a drone pilot directing the package to its final destination all the while keeping it strictly in his line of sight. Just a thought.

In the meantime, expect a big focus on shipping services across the board to start emerging, with all manner of start-ups entering the space and aiming to disrupt it. According to Jennifer Hyman of Rent the Runway, that’s exactly what is needed for retail. Speaking at SXSW this year, she called for the existing delivery companies to be put out of business, and for the system as it stands to be “ripped up and recreated” in order for e-commerce businesses to have sustainable profit margins. “We need to get the level of e-commerce across the board up from 10% of total retail sales to 30% or 50%, and the only way that is going to happen is if the delivery method changes,” she expressed.

This post first appeared on WGSN.com/blogs

Categories
digital snippets e-commerce social media Startups technology

Digital snippets: Style.com, Etsy, The Iconic, Dezeen, DVF, Uber, Alexander McQueen

A round-up of the latest stories to know about surrounding all things fashion and tech…

dezeen-watch-store

  • What the end of Style.com means for the rest of fashion publishing [Fashionista]
  • Post IPO, Etsy CTO on its conservatively crafty tech philosophy [TechCrunch]
  • Online retailer The Iconic considers drone deliveries [AFR]
  • Old-school timepieces take a stand against the Apple Watch in humorous Dezeen campaign (as pictured) [PSFK]
  • Diane von Furstenberg and that Bruce Jenner Instagram gaffe [WWD]
  • Uber is quietly testing a massive merchant delivery program [TechCrunch]
  • Alexander McQueen explores fashion’s relationship to dance in new video campaign [Luxury Daily]
  • Reebok launches ‘Hunt the Pump’ Instagram treasure hunt [Marketing Magazine]
  • Japanese salarymen unleash their inner surfers with Quiksilver’s amazing wetsuit [Creativity]
  • Google didn’t kill Glass, it’s just making it sexier [Fast Company]
  • Nike and Under Armour look increasingly like tech companies; spending wildly to watch your every step [The Washington Post]
  • Why are major tech brands so obsessed with fashion? [i-D]
  • As technology and fashion converge, get ready for 3D-printed shoes, special parkas for smoggy days, and maybe even jeans that fit [The Atlantic]
  • Something old (bridal wear) meets the new (3D printing) [NY Times]
  • 3D-printed swimsuit’s design mimics water movement [PSFK]
  • Will drones take fashion into the future? [i-D]
  • Online fashion marketplace Poshmark raises $25 million funding round [BoF]
  • What does the ideal click and collect service look like? [Econsultancy]
  • In customer service, online-only retailers are beating out brick-and-mortar [Fashionista]
  • Refinery29 fetches $50 million investment from WPP and Scripps [AdAge]
  • WeChat publishing is changing China’s mediascape [BoF]