e-commerce Editor's pick Retail technology

Westfield to launch AI-powered pop-up stocking trending items

Westfield London is set to launch a pop-up powered by data based on what is trending online, as determined by an artificial intelligence (AI) system.

Every morning, Westfield staff will stock the brick-and-mortar space with 100 items from throughout the mall – across menswear, womenswear and accessories – that the AI has determined to be most popular online that day.

“We know that the UK is shopping online, but we’re also seeing and hearing from consumers that they crave the human factor that shopping in person provides – the ability to touch, feel, try and seek advice, to ensure the products are right for you,” says Myf Ryan, chief marketing officer for Westfield. “The Trending Store provides the best of both worlds via a unique shopping experience, one that we believe represents the way we will all be shopping in the future.”

The pop-up, dubbed The Trending Store, will open from July 3-7. The AI system, which was developed by NextAtlas, a company focused on using the tech to determine emerging trends, chose merchandise for it by tracking 400,000 of the hottest influencers, which the platform refers to as “trend innovators”. The platform then analyzed what these influencers were wearing, filtering out the 100 items that it deems to be most trending on that given day.

The data gathered by NextAtlas is then communicated to the in-house stylist team at Westfield London. The finished range includes pieces from across the price spectrum, from entry-level to premium.

The pop-up also supports Westfield’s humanitarian mission, helping to raise funds to support its long-established charity partner, Save The Children.

The Trending Store pop-up reflects the need for big retailers to adapt to a changing consumer that shops both online and offline. Activations such as this one are potentially effective ways of attracting customers to the store, as the physical retail channel has suffered from falling footfall in recent years.

British department Harvey Nichols, is another example of this. At the end of 2018, it created an installation that also combined online, offline and philanthropic elements in the spirit of the Christmas season. For the experience, a real-life choir assembled in the store whose looks were available to shop via Instagram, with proceeds supporting the Smart Works charity.

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Simon Mall’s Launchpad concept introduces cutting edge tech to the masses

Simon introduces tech to its consumers
Simon introduces tech to its consumers

Simon, the US’s largest retail landlord, has launched an evolving retail platform that introduce new technologies by established and emerging brands to its consumers across the country.

Called Launchpad by Simon, the concept rolled out during Black Friday across six mall locations in the US, including at Lenox Square in Atlanta and King of Prussia in Philadelphia. Each location features two immersive experiences that welcome customers to experiment with new technologies such as mixed reality and robots and learn the latest trends in the space.

The first activation, called the “720 Degree Experience”, deploys virtual reality using a 720 degree camera which will create HD images and video to either view on a headset or post on social media.

Meanwhile “Youth Tech” incorporates three separate experiences: a robotic dog that responds to verbal commands, a smartphone-enabled gaming console and AR cards that bring animals to life in 4D.

To source the products on display, the property group travelled the world and visited major consumer tech and lifestyle shows such as the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), ASD Show, Canton Fair and Hong Kong Gift and Toy Show.

"Launchpad by Simon"
“Launchpad by Simon”

“By working directly with key wholesalers, we have immediate access to new products and concepts,” said Joseph Gerardi, VP of specialty leasing at Simon Properties, explaining that customer feedback is key to understanding demand for new tech products. “Items that sell extremely well will quickly migrate to another location outside of ‘Launchpad.’ If the product does not sell to a satisfactory level during the trial period, we will immediately return it and test the next product on our list.”

Malls are increasingly upping their efforts to provide new, interactive moments at their properties that tap into the consumer need for more experience, and less purchase. Earlier this year, Westfield’s Century City location in Los Angeles launched a theatrical VR experience called “Alien Zoo”, which invited customers to enter an imaginary, virtual world.

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.