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business Campaigns e-commerce Editor's pick product Retail

The rise of livestream shopping: From Kim Kardashian to hypebeasts

In the build up to this year’s Singles’ Day event in China (Nov 11), Kim Kardashian West took to TMall to co-host a live streaming shopping session with one of the country’s top-selling influencers, Viya Huang. The event drew in 13 million viewers and helped Kim K sell her entire stock of 15,000 bottles of KKW perfume in just a few minutes.

Broadcasting shopping events have long been a success in Asia, a region that often leapfrogs the West when it comes to responding to its audience’s want-it-now behaviors with digital tools. In 2018, the genre generated $4.4bn in sales in China alone. 

To further put in perspective the success of the feature on TMall, Huang, who joined Kardashian West on-screen during the broadcast, previously broke a record on the platform in October when she sold almost $50m in one day. 

In this case, the benefits of the partnership were twofold: while for Kardashian West it meant tapping into a mature audience and expanding her already huge visibility in Asia, for TMall, this served as a testing ground for its Global Influencer Ecosystem, a program that aims to train and support 2,000 influencers around the world.

Kim Kardashian’s TMall livestream

Live streaming has its origins beyond retail, and is part of a much wider voyeuristic nature the internet helped incubate – from watching people play video games on sites like Twitch, to the huge popularity of unboxing videos on YouTube. 

Brands following suit feels only natural as a result. Sprinkle in some influencer dust, and you’ve got a recipe for success. 

But this fairly new behavior is also an offshoot of a much wider trend for immediacy, or blink-and-you’ll-miss-it tactics that retailers have long deployed with flash sales and limited edition products.

You only need to look at the long-standing popularity of shopping channels like QVC and HSN, which combined brought in $3.1bn in sales during Q1 2019, to find the winning strategy: a charismatic host who sells a single product with a masterful sense of urgency, either focusing on its price or exclusivity, urging viewers to call in. But how do you refresh that model to suit the younger generation whose mobile-first behaviors mean they don’t watch live television, or even pick up the phone?

Enter platforms like NTWRK, a self-described QVC for Gen Z and Millennials, whose second round of funding included the likes of Foot Locker, Live Nation and rapper Drake. The app broadcasts live sessions where hosts, who are often celebrities or musicians, will sell limited edition goods – from sneakers to concert tickets – only available for the duration of the show. This, according to the platform, is “shopping at the speed of culture.” 

NTWRK could also represent the next step in hypebeast – or urban streetwear – culture, adding an extra level of exclusivity now that queueing outside stores has become a secondary market in itself.

Meanwhile H&M’s young brand Monki recently hosted an experience on its own e-commerce site where its fashion editor and a buyer discussed fashion trends and their favorite products of the season, while viewers could shop the products and even replay the video once it had ended.

Monki’s livestream

The popularity of these platforms and one-off events show that appetite is definitely there, much like in Asia. But in order to create a seamless shopping experience and keep customers coming back, brands and tech platforms still have a few kinks to resolve. 

Firstly, there is the issue of internet connection, which will undoubtedly improve once 5G has hit the masses. Then, there is creating a user experience that enables viewers to shop while never having to leave the stream to add their payment information or check out. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, it will be up to brands and retailers creating these streams to enlist hosts and create experiences that will grab and keep the attention of a notoriously fickle demographic.

It will be interesting to watch this space mature. A trend that is so clearly influenced by a tried-and-tested retail format – TV shopping networks – highlights how innovation is often about evolution, and not reinvention. Finding what works, and updating it to the digitally-led generation.

How are you thinking about new 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. 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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Campaigns e-commerce Editor's pick Retail technology

Lacoste launches shoppable TV ads during French Open on NBCU

Pieces from Lacoste’s latest collection will be shoppable via television ads aired during the French Open on NBC Universal this year.

Anyone watching any of star player Novak Djokovic’s matches, will be alerted by NBC Universal to hold their phone cameras up to the screen to capture the “On-Air Shoppable Moment”. By scanning a QR code, Lacoste’s website will then pop up, giving them the option to buy products.

The outfits that Djokovic will wear for his matches will also be available for purchase alongside other pieces from the collection. The first shoppable match will air this Saturday, June 1.

Shoppable TV is expected to roll out in a few months on a number of the television network’s other channels, including NBC, NBC Sports, Bravo, E! and Telemundo. NBCU already tested a prototype of the new technology during a broadcast of morning show TODAY, which earned around 50,000 scans in five minutes, according to AdWeek.

The shoppable TV experience opens up a new opportunity for brands that otherwise wouldn’t see value in traditional TV ads. “By pairing brands with our premium content, owning every stage of the purchase funnel and removing the barriers consumers traditionally encounter between seeing a product and making a purchase, we’re giving marketers a direct sales channel to millions of viewers across the country,” explained NBCU’s executive vice president, Josh Feldman.

Shoppable ads are already a trend for retailers in the digital space. Walmart-owned streaming service Vudu will be launching new interactive shows later this year with ads that allow viewers to purchase the featured products through a pop-up window. Last year, British Ted Baker published an online short film featuring the latest collections of the company, and all the clothing items had a clickable icon.  

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about helping you build innovative integrations and experiences. The Current Global 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

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Campaigns Editor's pick technology

New Balance deploys AI to spot trendy NYFW attendees 

New Balance
New Balance

New Balance is deploying artificial intelligence to track the outfits of New York Fashion Week showgoers, rewarding those whose style truly stands out.

On September 6, the sportswear company will set up a booth in the Soho neighborhood with cameras facing out in every direction, in order to scan as many people as possible walking the streets. The cameras will track outfits in real-time, analyzing features such as colors, patterns, shapes and styles, using AI to identify the ‘anomalies and exceptions to the norm’.

New Balance representatives will then approach passersby who are identified as truly stylish, and reward them with a pair of the brand’s Fresh Foam Cruz Nubuck sneakers.

“The idea is to celebrate people who go left when everybody else is going right,” says Allie Tsavdarides, director of global marketing at New Balance, of the “Be the Exception” campaign. “During a week where there is incredible emphasis and excitement around new trends and fashion, New Balance wants to celebrate individuals who are expressing themselves in independent and distinctive ways.”

The experience, called “Real Time Exception Spotting”, will be powered by TensorFlow, which will gather information about what people are wearing, in most part devoid of human intervention or bias. In the run-up to fashion week, a team of computer scientists has been going around the city collecting baseline data about fashion trends in order to feed the system.

According to Footwear News, the brand plans to use the technology again in Toronto, Stockholm and Madrid over the upcoming months. The use of it could also potentially be deployed in other scenarios such as at its own stores, with such data eventually helping inform R&D, says the brand. In line with recent concerns around data protection, the brand will not be collecting or storing any personal data, nor will it be deploying facial recognition, it notes.

New Balance’s “Be the Exception” campaign aligns with the brand’s strategy of speaking to those who sit outside fashion and don’t follow trends. As sportswear giants Nike and Adidas fight for the top hypebeast spot, by purposively removing itself from the race, New Balance is potentially positioning itself as a timeless and trusted alternative.

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.

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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.

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business digital snippets e-commerce film mobile social media Startups sustainability technology

What you missed: Mary Meeker’s internet trends, inside 24 Sèvres, robots making our clothes

Mary Meeker delivered her annual internet trends report
Mary Meeker delivered her annual internet trends report

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
  • What Mary Meeker’s 2017 internet trends report means for fashion [BoF]
  • Inside 24 Sèvres: LVMH opens its first multi-brand internet store [FT]
  • The case for letting robots make our clothes [Motherboard]
  • The Google Cultural Institute’s new digital archive could mean big things for fashion history [Fashionista]
  • How the luxury retail sector is using technology to remain relevant [Independent]

BUSINESS
  • What Trump’s climate reversal means for the fashion industry [BoF]
  • Mickey Drexler’s J. Crew departure marks the end of an era [Retail Dive]
  • Kering makes pledge to circular economy in aim to build sustainable practices [Glossy]
  • Mapping the benefits of a circular economy [McKinsey]

SOCIAL MEDIA & MARKETING
  • Kate Spade continues #MissAdventure campaign series [AdWeek]
  • Saks Fifth Avenue is turning to iMessage to bolster sales [Glossy]
  • Crocs thanks Instagram users for sharing with original art [MediaPost]
  • How six retailers are using chatbots to boost customer engagement (and why you should too) [ClickZ]

RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • What online fashion brands can learn from Amazon’s stores [Glossy]
  • This is what will happen to all the empty stores you’re seeing [Forbes]
  • The real cost of e-commerce logistics [Retail Dive]
  • How shoppers use their smartphones in stores [Retail Dive]

TECHNOLOGY
  • The Unseen has designed a t-shirt that senses climate change [Dazed]
  • Amazon patents shipping label with built-in parachute for dropping packages from drones [GeekWire]
  • Inside the production of WearableX’s first responsive yoga pant [Glossy]

START-UPS
  • Nomadic nabs $6M for its modular VR system for retail spaces [TechCrunch]
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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

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business digital snippets e-commerce film mobile social media Startups sustainability technology

What you missed: Mobile 2.0, Raf Simons for Calvin Klein, plastic bottle fashion

What you missed - mobile 2.0, Raf Simons for Calvin Klein
Raf Simons’ debut for Calvin Klein

An absolute must-read this week (away from fashion specifically but heavily based around tech and consumer behaviour and therefore highly relevant to anyone in this space), is this view on “mobile 2.0” from Benedict Evans of Andreessen Horowitz. If there are a billion people with high-end smartphones now, what assumptions can we leave behind in terms of what that means, and what does the future look like accordingly? With AR and machine learning, it’s a pretty fascinating one.

Elsewhere, the latest news is of course geared to New York Fashion Week, with everything from Raf Simons’ successful debut for Calvin Klein and ongoing analysis of what exactly a see-now, buy-now model looks for those partaking. There’s also an update on new features from Pinterest and a big push from Instagram for its Live tool during the shows.


TOP STORIES
  • Benedict Evas on the Mobile 2.0 era [Ben-Evans]
  • Fashion shows adopted a see-now, buy-now model. Has it worked? [NY Times]
  • Raf Simons’ Calvin Klein debut is a hit on social media [Glossy]
  • Lone bidder Boohoo snags bankrupt Nasty Gal for $20m [Retail Dive]
  • H&M’s new Conscious Exclusive Collection turns discarded plastic into evening gowns with Bionic Yarn [Vogue]
  • What see now-buy now means for the production side of fashion [Apparel]

BUSINESS
  • Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent shine for Kering [Reuters]
  • Prada revenue falls again as house attempts to revamp [The Fashion Law]
  • Ethics controversy grows over Trump-Nordstrom spat [WWD]
  • Yoox Net-a-Porter on the downswing, FarFetch on the up [LeanLuxe]
  • Tiffany CEO Cumenal exits following sales slump [Retail Dive]
  • Sophisticated shoplifting gangs are costing US retailers $30 billion a year [Quartz]

SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Instagram Live makes fashion week debut [WWD]
  • Pinterest bets visual search can drive shoppers from inspiration to purchase [Internet Retailer]

MARKETING
  • Fendi just launched a new digital platform targeting millennials [Fashionista]
  • These five fashionable brands have mastered content that sells [Fast Company]
  • Barneys takes powerful stance on female equality, empowerment [Luxury Daily]
  • Adidas’ latest Y-3 fashion film is inspired by a futuristic dystopia [LS:N Global]
  • See Nike’s stirring ‘equality’ ad from the Grammys [AdAge]

RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Should Amazon challenge Hudson’s Bay for Macy’s? [BoF]
  • New Neiman Marcus in Fort Worth built with tech and convenience layered on top of art and fashion [Dallas News]
  • Nifty app links with New York Couture Fashion Week [WWD]
  • Mon Purse CEO Lana Hopkins: “We’re treating Bloomingdale’s, Selfridges as marketing and branding opportunities” [LeanLuxe]

TECHNOLOGY
  • Why fashion brands should think more like tech companies [Fast Company]
  • Magic Leap’s patented an augmented reality price-checker [The Verge]
  • New York designer Ab[Screenwear] combines fashion with light-responsive holographic panels and operable touchscreens [BrandChannel]

START-UPS
  • Techstars Q&A: How start-ups can accelerate retail innovation [Retail Dive]
  • Rêve en Vert to launch £300,000 crowdfunding campaign [The Industry]
Categories
Editor's pick mobile social media technology

Chatbots and VR lead this season’s top tech trends in retail

Google's Window Wonderland virtual reality experience
Google’s Window Wonderland virtual reality experience

Technology is playing an ever-important role in the shopping side of the holiday season. Logistics aside, which is of course critical at this time of year, tech is also proving increasingly key from an experiential and a customer service perspective both online and offline. Leading that charge for 2016 are virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI).

Google has employed the former this year, for instance, to allow consumers to ‘walk’ along Fifth Avenue in New York to experience all the holiday window displays.

Window Wonderland, as the initiative is called, is a VR experience that lets users view 18 different retailers including Bloomingdale’s, Barneys New York, Saks Fifth Avenue, Tiffany & Co, Burberry and more. They can zoom in on the displays and even listen to audio guides from some of the store creatives talking about this year’s work.

The experience was produced by Google’s Art, Copy & Code team by taking hundreds of high-resolution images of each store and then stitching them together so they can be viewed via a web browser, on a smartphone or tablet, or through a VR headset. The effect is almost like a moving image; a rich, life-like panorama.

“We all love the window tradition here. It’s such an iconic thing. We thought it might be fun to put a unique Google spin on it and bring it to the masses,” Aman Govil, head of the Art, Copy & Code projects team, told Fast Company.

VR is also getting a spin in the UK, where department store John Lewis has introduced an experience tied to its Buster the Boxer advertising campaign. Visitors to its Oxford Street flagship in London can enter the world of Buster and all his friends using an Oculus Rift. They can also view a 360-degree film using Google Cardboard or by watching it on YouTube.

Artificial intelligence, meanwhile, is being heavily experimented with in the form of chatbots for the holidays.

IBM Watson has worked with Mall of America for instance, on a Facebook Messenger bot called E.L.F, which stands for Experiential List Formulator. Created in collaboration with Watson developer partner Satisfi, it helps visitors plan a more personalised experience to the shopping centre by determining things like how much time they have and what activities they prefer.

“The holiday season is upon us and, for many, this represents the most hectic shopping period of the year. Whether you’re navigating crowded shopping centres or debating what gifts to buy, the in-store experience can be particularly overwhelming,” explains Don White, CEO of Satisfi. The chatbot aims to better understand, connect with, and create superior experiences for shoppers accordingly.

The E.L.F chatbot from IBM Watson and Satisfi
The E.L.F chatbot from IBM Watson and Satisfi

The launch of Facebook Messenger’s bot store earlier this year is behind much of the drive for experimentation in this space. Already throughout 2016, we’ve seen fashion and retail brands including Burberry, Tommy Hilfiger, Everlane, eBay and more launching their own versions. In total, 33,000 different bots have been introduced since April.

For the holidays, Burberry has extended its version from the original one it launched for London Fashion Week. This time, users are introduced to its The Tale of Thomas Burberry festive campaign, which tells the story behind its founder. Different layers of the tale are unveiled using emojis, including the invention of Gabardine fabric in 1879 using a raindrop, the introduction of Sienna Miller’s character using a heart, and more. Users can also see behind-the-scenes of the film, browse gift ideas and opt into a ‘live chat’ with a human consultant.

This mix of storytelling, product discovery and customer service is seen as the likely future for chatbots; making consumer engagement possible at a much wider scale than could have been achieved before. It’s about answering as much as possible for shoppers through AI, before escalating to a human only when needed.

Burberry's Facebook Messenger chatbot
Burberry’s Facebook Messenger chatbot

Gift guides is another example. Chatbots are making suggestions for what to buy at a much greater level of detail than ever before, as achieved by the likes of H&M and American Eagle using messaging service, Kik, which also has a substantial bot store.

Nordstrom’s bot, available on both Kik and Facebook and developed in collaboration with mobile messaging company Snaps, also focuses on helping shoppers find the perfect Christmas presents.

Estée Lauder’s No. 6 Mortimer in London is even making purchases possible directly through the Facebook Messenger app. Customers can checkout using Paypal without having to go to an outside website. Mark Lapicki, director of retail innovation at The Estée Lauder Companies UK and Ireland, told WWD the pilot service was for “time-poor consumers seeking ultimate convenience, with immediate purchase and delivery of our products in as little as 60 minutes”.

While significant conversions aren’t anticipated from each of those experimenting this season – aware of the fact such interaction remains very new for consumers – this is a trend expected to carry through and make significant inroads for 2017.

This story first appeared on Forbes

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social media

New Look: Social media and the globalisation of trends

New Look

There was one particularly interesting bit about New Look’s results announcement yesterday, and that surrounded how global trends now travel thanks to social media.

As its profits surged 17%, the value fashion retailer’s CEO Anders Kristiansen said that “fashion is becoming more and more the same around the world”.

Now that may seem like a no-brainer but until now, it hasn’t been. Having worked in fashion for more decades than I care to remember, I’ve often been surprised about how slowly or how little trends do play out around the world. And I’ve seen more than one ‘global’ retailer exit certain markets because the product designed in country X just doesn’t resonate in country Y.

The arrival of the internet itself didn’t necessarily change this, it just made it more noticeable.

But now it’s social media that’s calling the shots and that has made a huge difference. Trends are travelling fast and exposure to those trends is rubbing away at the differences in taste between countries.

“We used to see a big difference in different countries, but because of social media, trends are the same,” Anders added. “A massive trend in the UK — like bomber jackets at the moment — is the same in Beijing and Bordeaux.”

Which must be good news for New Look as it’s earmarked £100m worth of investment to expand into Germany and grow its existing stores in China. It’s targeting 75 German stores within five years (from the current single concession store there) and plans to open 50 more Chinese stores for a total of 142.

This post first appeared on Trendwalk.net, a style-meets-business blog by journalist, trends specialist and business analyst, Sandra Halliday

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digital snippets e-commerce Editor's pick mobile Startups technology

Digital snippets: Every key fashion story you need to read from #SXSW

IMG_3076

It might be an event dedicated to technologists first and foremost, but there’s no escaping the role of branding and marketing at SXSW Interactive these days, and the fashion industry has inserted itself well and truly as a relevant vertical within that.

From SXstyle to numerous off-schedule events, there were more dedicated fashion and retail-related panels than ever, not to mention numerous pop-up activations dedicated to the future of this area.

Whether you weren’t able to make it to Austin, or indeed were on the ground but overwhelmed by the madness (weren’t we all!), here’s a comprehensive round-up of everything that went on by way of the top stories to read. Note the absence of wearables this year by the way…