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From holograms to responsible packaging: 10 must-read retail innovation lists

This year has seen continued breakthroughs in retail innovation, with brands exploring new ways to interact with consumers, whether that’s through the physical store, virtual spaces, or new touchpoints like vending machines. 

2019 has also been an impressive year for sustainable innovations, with everything from creative store design and technological transparency, to responsible packaging solutions and the rise of rentals.

Here, we reflect on 10 of our must-read retail innovation articles from the year.

8 brands deploying vending machines as smart retail solutions
Mulberry x Current Global Vending Machine

Artificial intelligence, social media buzz and customer acquisition tools are just a few of the strategies behind vending machines being used as a key part of today’s retail experience. In this story we explore how the technology has been applied to brands including Mulberry and Adidas.

4 technologies aiding in-store navigation
Gatwick’s in-app navigation

Big box retailers including Walmart’s Sam’s Club, Home Depot, Lowe’s and Target are using a variety of interesting wayfinding technologies to improve customer navigation inside the physical store. This piece dives into the role of innovation for more efficient customer journeys.

5 brands pushing conversions through virtual storefronts
Lego’s AR-activated experience

Brands including Macy’s and Lego are using virtual experiences in physical locations to provide shoppers with the benefit of an interactive in-person experience without needing to carry inventory. Here, we look at how these “invisible” or augmented reality storefronts are driving sales, collecting data and boosting branding efforts.

7 ways fashion brands are harnessing hologram technology
Alexander McQueen’s hologram show

The fashion industry has been experimenting with holograms for some time, using them as both elaborate marketing techniques, as well as more immersive in-store opportunities aiming to drive brand engagement. In this piece, we take a look back at some of the best use cases from the likes of Alexander McQueen and Ralph Lauren.

9 brands pushing sustainable store design
Ganni’s sustainably designed store

With sustainability an increasing priority on the agenda for fashion and retail businesses around the globe today, attention is also turning to their brick-and-mortar stores – how they’re resourced, designed and constructed. Here we explore how the likes of Stella McCartney through to Ikea are approaching it.

4 innovative retail fulfilment methods to know
Ford’s delivery robot

With the on-demand economy continuing to fuel consumer desire for instant gratification, innovation in delivery continues to rise, from crowdsourcing to the latest in robotics. Explore how tech solutions are shaping efficiency in the last mile, here.

7 brands regaining consumer trust through transparency
‘I made you clothes’ campaign

Enabling transparency is a key focus for fashion businesses today, but with rising concerns of greenwashing – from misleading PR-led campaigns to the increase of fake news – consumer trust is at an all-time low. As a result, brands are having to work harder than ever to prove their authenticity in the matter.

5 brands using gamification to drive shopping
Nike’s React Land game

Brands and retailers are jumping on the growth of the gaming market and increasingly using ‘play’ mechanics as a way to encourage shopping. Here we dive into why gamification is estimated to be a $40bn market by 2024 and explore those making the most of it already.

4 effective ways brands are tapping into the rental market
Ba&sh’s NY store

The rental market boom is sending a clear signal to brands struggling to survive in the current retail climate: it is time to adapt to changing purchase behaviors, or risk losing market share. In this piece we look at the varying benefits of stepping into this space, from sustainability to data capturing.

8 brands turning to responsible packaging solutions
Toad&Co partnered with LimeLoop

The rapid rise of the e-commerce era has seen an equally colossal increase in plastic packaging used by brands around the world, something those at the forefront of sustainability are now looking to change. Check out some of the best alternatives introduced by the likes of PVH to MatchesFashion.com.

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.

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Editor's pick Retail technology

Mulberry launches interactive retail experience for the holiday season

The #MulberryLights installation
The #MulberryLights installation

British luxury brand Mulberry has teamed up with innovation consultancy, Current Global, to create an interactive retail installation that will travel around the UK for the festive period.

The initiative, which is tied to the brand’s #MulberryLights campaign, celebrates how light, colour, shapes and people come together to create a modern British Christmas.

It is anchored by a smart vending machine that will appear in stores in London, Leeds, Manchester and Edinburgh, designed to reward participation, amplify social engagement and capture data. The experience invites users to share their lights-inspired images with the hashtag #MulberryLights, to gain instant access to the prizes stored.

The machine works by verifying that the social media share has taken place on either Instagram or Twitter. It then invites users to interact in a bespoke gaming experience through its digital portal, before rewarding them for taking part. Each day, one lucky player will win the top prize of a £1,000 gift card. Other prizes include small leather goods, stickers and festive chocolate. Every user can also enter the chance to win a further £5,000 to spend on gifts at Mulberry.

The #MulberryLights smart vending machine
The #MulberryLights smart vending machine

The experience was produced by Current Global, an innovation consultancy transforming how fashion and luxury brands intersect with technology.

Liz Bacelar, CEO of Current Global, said: “Mulberry came to us seeking a creative and interactive experience that would help drive store footfall during the holiday period. Smart vending machines are currently having a moment in retail; creating incredible engagement with fans as well as relevancy in a noisy and overly saturated market. With a portfolio of thousands of startups and top technologies from around the globe, Current Global was able to quickly identify the ideal partner to co-create the #MulberryLights concept. This is another example of how open innovation – collaboration with external partners – is the most effective route to real innovation.”

The installation will be in Mulberry’s Regent Street flagship from November 15-18. It kicks off with an immersive pop-up light experience, alongside drinks and live music while the Regent Street lights are turned on. It then travels to Leeds November 22-25, Manchester November 26-28, and Edinburgh November 29 – December 2. A second machine will also appear in New York in December.

Further stickers, fly posters and projections from Mulberry will be dotted around London, Manchester and Edinburgh, encouraging consumers to take photos and tag them on social media with the hashtag.

How are you thinking about retail innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. 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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Campaigns e-commerce Editor's pick Retail

Calvin Klein to launch interactive NYC Market with Amazon Fashion

Calvin Klein Jeans Fall Campaign

Calvin Klein is partnering with Amazon Fashion to bring to life its Fall 2018 jeans campaign through an immersive retail experience in New York.

The Calvin Klein x Amazon Fashion NYC Market, as it’s called, sees three major attractions – a photobooth with flying popcorn, a photoshoot set-up themed around the brand’s “Together In Denim Billboard” campaign, and a giant water-box installation.

Visitors will also have the chance to win exclusive Calvin Klein products such as jeans and underwear designs, as well as Amazon devices, by playing games on site.

Calvin Klein Jeans “Together In Denim” billboard

 

“By joining Amazon Fashion’s digital expertise with Calvin Klein’s physical presence, we are creating a ‘phy-gital’ experience in the middle of New York City, reinforcing our commitment to a consumer-first strategy,” Marie Gulin-Merle, chief marketing officer of Calvin Klein Inc. told WWD.

Further detail show the interactive photobooth will feature levitating popcorn that visitors will be able to take a picture with. It was inspired by the Calvin Klein 205W39NYC Fall 2018 runway show, which saw the floor covered with the white snack.

The re-enactment of the brand’s “Together in Denim Billboard” campaign, which saw models posing on an oversized billboard, will have a professional photographer on site ensuring social media-ready snaps.

And the giant water-box will house vending machines where visitors have the chance to win limited edition artworks from the Fall campaign.

Calvin Klein Fall 2018 runway show

Amazon will also host an Amazon Alexa Jukebox Lounge, where an analog Juke Box enhanced through the Alexa voice technology, will allow visitors to interact with the music played on digital screens. Guests will also have the chance to use their voice to control the music and lighting.

Any visitors keen to purchase Calvin Klein merchandise on site will be able to do so smoothly through Smile Codes (Amazon-branded QR codes), which will give visitors access to the dedicated Calvin Klein website on Amazon Fashion. A dedicated #MyCalvins Campaign Shop will allow them to try things on when on site.

To further encourage consumer purchasing, the brand has also created a denim jacket in collaboration with rap star A$AP Rocky, exclusively available on Amazon Fashion.

This is the second time the brand has partnered with Amazon Fashion for an interactive experience. In November of 2017 the brand opened a tech-enabled store in Los Angeles and New York, selling exclusive stock and offering in-store customization stations.

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.

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business data digital snippets e-commerce Retail sustainability technology

ICYMI: Nobody is buying Vetements, Walmart’s high tech store, reviving H&M

Vetements
Vetements

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

TOP STORIES
  • 2 years after they broke the internet, it looks like nobody is buying Vetements [HighSnobiety]
  • Walmart opens first small high-tech supermarket in China [Reuters]
  • ‘It lost its focus’: Why an e-commerce push won’t be enough to revive H&M [Glossy]
  • What Trump’s trade war means for fashion [BoF]
  • Alibaba and Ford launch China’s first Tmall car vending machine [BrandChannel]
TECHNOLOGY
  • Apple’s groovy iPhone spot shows how you can now pay with a glance [Creativity]
  • Museums are the best place to find innovation in AR [VentureBeat]
  • How Tumi is using AI in marketing campaigns, online and in stores [Digiday]
SUSTAINABILITY
  • Fashion’s 7 priorities to achieve sustainability [BoF]
  • Eileen Fisher will use Salone del Mobile installation to remind the fashion world to ‘waste no more’ [WWD]
RETAIL & E-COMMERCE
  • Former Walmart CEO, of all people, says Congress should break up Amazon [Racked]
  • Ted Baker launches experiential pop-up at London’s Old Street station [TheIndustry]
  • Nike opens Unlaced, a sneaker boutique for women [BrandChannel]
  • 6 tips for taking your brand direct-to-consumer [BoF]
MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIA
  • What Nike’s analytics platform buy says about the future of brand-consumer relationships [AdWeek]
BUSINESS
  • Kering confirms Stella McCartney split [BoF]
  • Why a potential $5bn valuation at IPO for luxury unicorn Farfetch may not be crazy after all [CB Insights]
  • Louis Vuitton’s new appointment marks an important victory for marketing hype over design [StyleZeitgeist]
  • Raf Simons’ first year at Calvin Klein delivers for PVH [BoF]
  • Lululemon stretches digital marketing wings, sees success [AdAge]
  • What’s driving retail’s sneaker obsession? [RetailDive]
  • 7 takeaways from Shoptalk 2018 [RetailDive]
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e-commerce Editor's pick technology

Uniqlo turns to tech and convenience with automated vending machine concept

Uniqlo To Go
Uniqlo To Go

Uniqlo is launching an automated shopping concept in the format of vending-inspired machines at select airports and malls in the US.

The first Uniqlo To Go, which houses the brand’s LifeWear line, was unveiled at Oakland airport today. A further nine will appear around the country in August and September.

The pop-up machines are designed to provide an on-demand experience for customers in high traffic locations, with each of them selling Uniqlo’s UltraLight down jackets and HeatTech tops. According to the brand, they represent the intersection of technology, convenience and efficiency.

Uniqlo To Go
Uniqlo To Go

Hiroshi Taki, CEO Of Uniqlo USA, said: “We are looking forward to introducing a new and easier way of shopping. Uniqlo To Go machines will carry the best of LifeWear, providing convenience to travellers looking for a warm jacket without the bulk or a versatile undershirt, all with the push of a button. Our aim is to answer the real needs of our customers through clothing, and we hope to broaden the reach of that mission through this new concept.”

Further confirmed locations include Hollywood & Highland Center in Los Angeles (August 10), Houston Airport (August 17) and Queens Center in New York (August 22), with the rest to be announced soon.

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digital snippets e-commerce mobile social media Startups technology

Digital snippets: Amazon 3D printing, Zappos digital assistant, Target In a Snap app, and more

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

Jeff Bezos, Amazon 2012

  • What Amazon’s foray into 3D printing means for the industry [Fortune]
  • Zappos tests digital assistant that helps you track down any fashion item [CNET]
  • Target snaps up mobile shopping innovation with image recognition app [BrandChannel]
  • L’Oréal make-up goes virtual for selfie age [FT]
  • Yoox Group teams with messaging service WeChat [WWD]
  • Marie Claire’s innovative interactive magazine covers are breaking new ground in advertising real estate [BoF]
  • This Nike vending machine accepts only FuelBand points [Creativity]
  • Virtual reality: advertising’s next big thing? [AdAge]
  • Forever 21, Urban Outfitters among most popular retailers on Pinterest, relative newbie, Modcloth, tops list [Forbes]
  • 8 start-ups trying to help you find clothing that fits [Fashionista]
  • The new bazaar: in India, online stores catch on with buyers [NY Times]
  • New York Fashion Tech Lab program debuts at Hearst Tower [PSFK]
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social media

Old Navy taps social currency with flip-flop vending machines

OldNavy_flipflophooray

From L’Oréal make-up to Sprinkles cupcakes, vending machines are having a moment in New York. The latest? Flip-flops from Old Navy.

From today until June 26, the US retailer will be dispensing rainbow-coloured pairs from 36 machines in both NYC and Los Angeles.

But that’s not all – to get their hands on some, shoppers must first pay with a tweet. Old Navy is willing to give away 9,000 flip-flops, essentially guaranteeing themselves 9,000 social interactions, as reported by AdAge.

The machines (as pictured above with actress Emma Roberts) will change locations each day, which fans can track on the Old Navy Twitter account and by using the hashtag #flipflophooray.

The initiative will conclude with the annual $1 flip-flop sale in-stores on Saturday, June 28.

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digital snippets e-commerce social media

Digital snippets: Michael Kors, Banana Republic, Macy’s, Kate Spade, John Lewis, L’Oréal, Juicy Couture, Sephora

A short break here means there’s a stack of content to catch up on. Below are the top links for stories surrounding fashion and digital during my recent fortnight of travels. Hours of fun…

MichaelKors_Instagram

  • Michael Kors’ widely hated Instagram ad was actually a massive success; received almost four times as many likes as the average post [Business Insider
  • John Lewis 2013 Christmas ad beats 2012 ad total YouTube views within days of release [The Drum]
  • Banana Republic, CNNMoney and CNBC among top Twitter accounts during TWTR IPO [TechCrunch]
  • Like what you see? Kate Spade video ad designed for instant shopping [Mashable]
  • L’Oréal Paris launches make-up vending machines in NYC subway [Fashionista
  • Juicy Couture to be first brand to advertise using Snapchat Stories [The Drum]
  • At Sephora, mobile-first means ‘connecting’ the customer’s experiences [eMarketer]
  • Neiman Marcus teams up with Shapeways to offer 3D printed holiday capsule collection [PSFK] 
  • Printemps sets e-commerce strategy [WWD
  • Cartier North America CEO stresses importance of carefully curated digital presence [Luxury Daily]
  • How can retailers make it easier to buy jeans online? [Econsultancy]
  • On the same theme: This app can find your true bra size by taking two selfies of your breasts [Business Insider
  • Vanessa Traina launches new curated e-commerce venture The Line [BoF]
  • Fashion bloggers see a missed opportunity to monetise Instagram posts – why aren’t links allowed? [AdWeek