After launching in Paris, Dublin and Berlin, it was time to head back to London for our Meetup. Having recently moved into the old White Cube gallery, what better way to settle in to our new home in Hoxton Square, than a Meetup looking at “New Ideas in Ecom and Mcom”.
We kicked off with a discussion with three of our top partners for the upcoming London Hackathon and Summit this May; Gemma Ebelis from the British Fashion Council; Jen Rubio, Head of Innovation at AllSaints; and Chris Morton, founder and CEO of Lyst.
All speakers come from very different walks of the industry, all flying the flag for the importance of the Hackathon for the fashion industry. The discussion got the creative juices flowing and our minds bulging with ideas of what we want to create – so people get involved and make an impact!
We all know ecom and mcom without a doubt are inextricably linked, and Morton revealed that 40% of users experience Lyst on their mobiles. The use of affiliate marketing is often not ideal for online fashion retailers because of this, as it makes mobile shopping slower and less intuitive. That’s why Lyst created the universal checkout!
The BFC are just moving into their fifth pillar, and yes you guessed it, it’s digital innovation. Ebelis highlighted (the many) mountains that designers face when starting off, with the two biggies being business know how and in particular the offline and online time-to-market is crucial to a brand’s success.
AllSaints’ Rubio has deep knowledge of the startup world, working with Warby Parker before taking on her current role. She talked about the importance of startups understanding how the fashion industry, and businesses in general, function in order to develop the right technology. But she also stressed that there has to be an effort from the brands’ side – fashion brands need to make adjustments to their internal structure to be able to accommodate startups efficiently. “We found that, ultimately, it all boils down to this: startups need to think about how they can help fashion brands improve their customer experience”.
Up next our showcase of three startups: Nuji, Provenance and WonderLuk. Three very different concepts and we were impressed with them all! Nuji have created a very cool intuitive mobile app design that is fun and lets users do everything “with the swipe of one thumb.”
Provenance’s concept empowers producers and retailers to be more open about the things they create by allowing them to showcase their products’ stories. A social element also lets customers take a more proactive approach, by enabling them to contact producers directly on site and ask them questions.
And our final startup for the “Wonderwoman” in all of us! Recently launched WonderLuk were our final startup, a made-to-order jewellery brand that uses 3D printing.
See you next time London!
Despite the challenges that online apparel shopping poses, clothing and accessories make up today’s fastest-growing ecommerce segment. As reported in a recent article by Thomas Rankin, the founder of the mobile menswear app Dash Hudson, this is led by innovative fashion technology solutions that allow brands and e-tailers to tailor both product and content to each shoppers’ specific needs. Not only does this engage consumers and allow them to shop more conveniently than ever before, but it has also revolutionised shopping for a commonly overlooked, yet highly important and loyal customer segment: men.
Mens’ shopping needs have often come second to womens’ in the world of offline retail. The growth of online apparel sales has enabled a multitude of e-tailers and online brands to step up and address this issue by creating sites specifically tailored to men’s needs. And, consequently, “the Internet has changed an experience men hate” as a recent Business Insider article accurately put it, and reduced “the barrier between men and style.” It therefore comes as no surprise that a recent Rakuten Linkshare study found that the vast majority of men (83%) prefer online to brick-and-mortar shopping. Some e-tailers that target both men and women, such as Gilt, have even found that men are ‘outshopping’ women.
A plethora of online shopping possibilities exist besides the usual online stores of existing offline brands and retailers. These cater to more specific needs in innovative ways:
Curated subscription services such as The Chapar, handpick items and send them to customers on a prescription basis, and then only charge for items that the customers decide not to return (more about this here). Other examples of this include Frank & Oak, Bombfell and Trunk Club.
Virtual fit tools are also making online sizing choices easier, with custom ecommerce tailoring becoming highly competitive amongst menswear startups (more about this in our FTDaily-featured article here). And the blogosphere has also given birth to men’s fashion blogs such as The Dandy Project, The Simplistic Man, The Hobbyists and This Fellow.
Ultimately, it is a question of offering a service that is tailored appropriately to a certain customer need. Erik Lautier, EVP and Chief Digital Officer at bebe summarises this well in Rankin’s article: “the question you have to ask yourself as a brand is ‘am I creating content people will be passionate enough about to share with others?’ That question is no different from what it was 20 or 50 or 100 years ago – it’s just that now, sharing is easier and faster.”
“Curation and greater niche specificity in men’s brands, many of whom are online-only, have made it easier for men to find exactly what they’re looking for, either because it is being served up to them or because the discovery process has been streamlined.”- Erik Lautier, EVP & Chief Digital Officer at bebe in Rankin’s article.
Reported By Anna Abrell
Under Stylus, Decoded Fashion will accelerate the expansion of its event series in the U.S., Europe, Asia and South America, connecting thousands of decision makers and fueling dozens of collaborations between brands and tech companies.
The past two weeks have seen the launch of two new cities in our Meetup series, first we headed to Dublin and then to Berlin. Both events were sold out and we had a great lineup of speakers giving us insight into these vibrant communities.
In Dublin, we were hosted by the Wayra Academy and Sonya Lennon, founder of Frockadvisor. The event kicked off with a panel discussion on ‘Globalisation versus Localisation,’ featuring speakers Rory Caren, IBM, IDR Marketing and Academic Manager, and Fidelma Healy, COO of Gilt Ireland. Caren highlighted that IBM place much importance on analytics and big data, and that retail challenges can only be solved by working with small startups. Healy in turn revealed that the biggest challenge for online apparel sales is getting over issues of fit and sizing. The panel was then followed by startup showcases by 365 Looks, Storpal and Frockadvisor.
Check out video coverage here.
Next up: uber cool Berlin at a new campus for startups and the soon-to-be home of SoundCloud, Factory. We had a mix of speakers from all over Germany; Stylight, Amazine, Parasol Island, Bragi and DGAG. Bragi introduced their multifunctional headphones – they have received a massive $3,390,551 on kickstarter for this project. Stylight explained their concept of using style influencers such as bloggers to inspire consumers and push sales, revealing big expansion plans as they head to the US. The founder of Amazine unveiled their B2B offering using shoppable content. Miki Devic closed with his 3D technology, something he passionately discussed becoming integrated into everyday life, with huge potential to enhancing fashion and retails. Not to mention his DGAG 3D-Selfie software, which has already been used to create full-size 3D-avatars of Cristiano Ronaldo
Further coverage of the event can be found here.
We would like to take this opportunity to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who attended and to all the speakers, hosts, and partners. Stay tuned for the next city!
Reported By Anna Abrell
Last week we headed down to the Wearable Technology Show in London’s Olympia, where a multitude of new wearables were exhibiting, from UV activity monitors to responsive running jackets. Most of the gadgets that were on show, were versatile in terms of the applications they could be used for and the industries they could be used in. With some seeming to serve a recreational purpose, others had functionalities that could also be applied in retailing, healthcare and even military contexts. Here’s our top picks:
- Intelligent Headset, the world’s first 3D audio headset, made its debut along with it’s own Zombie game that requires players to ‘listen’ rather than ‘look out.’ This also has great applications for the educational sector and atmospheric marketing.
- ViewAR showcased apps that allow customers to navigate through virtual environments by means of gesture control – beyond gaming, this has some very interesting implications for retailing and branding.
- SnapWatch showcased their fun concept – a rigid steel band featuring a display that can snap around the wrist thanks to the flexible nature of its display. The modern comeback of the eighties Slap Bracelet!
- A piece of wearable tech that might serve to motivate sports enthusiasts to improve their running times is the Glofaster running jacket – it syncs with the wearer’s mobile phone and lights up as long as they are running above their minimal speed.
- A showcased product that is already on the market is the emotional jewellery by the British brand Kiroco Touch. Content in the form of images, videos or text can be stored on bracelets or necklaces and then unlocked when the jewellery gets into contact with a mobile phone. This won the award for ‘Best Innovation.’
Reported By Anna Abrell
After touching down for all of 8 hrs after SXSW, we hopped on the Eurostar to continue our European Meetup tour! First stop Paris, with the support of our local host Celine Lippi, Co-Founder of Fashion Capital Partners. With a full house at the newly opened Le Numa, it was time to discuss the ins and outs of the ever growing omni-channel.
Kicking off with an opening keynote from Google‘s Pauline Butor who told us an astonishing five billion queries regarding fashion and beauty are made through Google every month! She went on to demonstrate the vast amount of Google tools available to fashion brands, that can help them gather data and create content. Talking us through last years hugely successful Topshop Fashion Week campaign, which used live hangouts to create another layer of content and a live view of a model’s runway walk.
Next both iVentures Consulting and DemandWare discussed how to improve customer experience, with the connection between both physical and digital stores. iVentures Consulting gave us a preview of their eShopper Index, which brands came up top digitally? The top 5 included Zalando, Zappos, Amazon, NET-A-PORTER and Gap.
Fusalp, Vilebrequin & l’Exception debated best practices; rethinking retail with smart shopping experiences, digital windows and customer touchpoints, with a gentle reminder that at the heart of all these tech innovations still remains the physical product and of course the consumer!
The evening closed with 3 startup pitches; Shop’n'Brag, a mobile shopping app that seems to do just about everything, with augmented reality features and deal finders rolled into one; HappyBeacon, allowing retailers to interact directly with the consumer through push notifications and our final startup Bodi.me, joining the fight against returns by letting the consumer try on clothes virtually.
For all the photos from the evening, head over here and Paris, we cannot wait to return in June!
Every year Austin opens it’s city to over 30,000 visitors for the notorious SXSW festival and last week we joined the lineup with our first event! With over 500 attendees crossing the threshold to take in three hours of panels, talks and face-to-face meetings at the Mentorship Hub. Here are the best bits from the conversations that took place.
First up, ” Onboarding Tech” with Amy Walker, Director of Online Marketing at Neiman Marcus, Jen Rubio, Global Director of Innovation at AllSaints and Will Young, Director of Zappos Labs at Zappos.com
All speakers emphasised their preference for finding new tech companies through networking and receiving recommendations from venture capital firms over receiving cold calls and emails.
Brands don’t want to be subjected to hard sales pitches that make unrealistic promises, but would rather engage in a conversation with a startup that has done extensive background research about the brand, has contacted the relevant department to pitch, and already has an idea about what the challenges may be and how they could be tackled. And naturally, if the technology is easier to onboard, then brands will implement it much faster. Young drives home this point “If you set the expectations we are doing something really interesting, that you might be interested in and we would love to learn what your challenges are […]’ it’s much more of a conversation than guns blazing sales pitching. And then I leave that meeting feeling like I wanna continue that conversation.”
And what technologies are brands looking for? Brands want to increase their conversion rates and their ROI in an engaging and sustainable manner, rather than invest in a fad that attracts media attention. What tools can help them seamlessly merge their content and their commerce? What can help them build an online community by telling their brand story?
Our second panel focused on content curation, featuring Rachel Tipograph, Director of Global Digital and Social Media at GAP, Kristina Di Matteo, Senior Digital Marketing Manager at Kate Spade and Katalina Sharkey de Solis, Director of Digital at Chanel.
Tipograph cited simplicity as key, it’s at the core of GAP’s brand and that filters into all of their processes, whether it’s creating content, or onboarding a new start-up. This also rings true for the Kate Spade brand, who have a tiny team creating all this fantastic content, but if it’s too complicated to onboard it just doesn’t work.
With luxury, Sharkey de Solis pointed out that social media channels engage aspirational and potential luxury consumers much more than they do existing consumers. The challenge for them is finding a way in which to excite current consumers, which means, “We’re really looking for experiential technologies because with this very high-end consumer, they’re not necessarily wanting to engage with the brands on [social media] channels” – Sharkey de Solis
And, though traditional long-term branding campaigns may not be devised with specific measurement matrices in mind and may be ideally measured qualitatively, Di Matteo emphasised how difficult it is for brands to quantitatively measure the success of more fast-moving online campaigns. “If it were up to me, I would create the coolest reporting tool that would allow for me to understand everything that’s happening and have it really succinctly tie up into my [ecommerce] data because, at the end of the day, our goal is to generate sales, but also be able to tell a great story.” Anyone got an idea for this?
Last week’s event was a milestone for Decoded Fashion, and you can be sure to find us at next year’s SXSW.
Reported by Anna Abrell
Decoded Fashion at SXSW presented by Cusp by Neiman Marcus is the only event bringing together digital heads of Fashion, Beauty & Retail brands to discover and mentor startups founders.
On stage, it will host two panels on brands seeking new tech, with speakers from Gap, Zappos.com, Neiman Marcus, AllSaints, kate+spade and Chanel. Fast paced startup demos will uncover what’s hot in fashion and tech, with a closing presentation from former TopShop CMO, Justin Cooke.
At the Decoded Fashion Mentorship Hub presented by Stylus, tech founders can receive candid feedback and advice on their startup concept and plans, from investors and various executives in Fashion and Retail. Each mentor will offer 10-minute sessions and these are not to be mere sales pitch sessions, but an opportunity for founders to explore their messaging, value prop and even pricing with those who truly understand your target market.
To sign up for a mentor meeting, head to www.decodedfashion.com/sxsw/.
Retail data startup, 42, launched this week with the backing of Y Combinator. The company came to life during Decoded Fashion Hackathon last year, and headed to Milan as a finalist for our Fashion Pitch competition presented by e-Pitti. 42 went on to debut at TechCrunch Disrupt last year, being then accepted at the prestigious accelerator program Y Combinator.
The company turns raw point-of-sale data into actionable insights that help businesses boost sales. The idea that ignited the company came from co-Founder Cathy Han, formerly of Procter & Gamble. As she told Techcrunch while working with larger retailers to help them better analyze data, she realized that a lot of brick-and-mortar businesses lacked a suite of online tools to leverage customer and sales data.
“One of the things we’ve been focused on is our data infrastructure – to design it to handle retailers with a growing quantity of data, and to have an API that will allow it to handle any type of query,” said Han.
Today, 42 works with its customers to configure custom reporting for their businesses, these custom reports can be automatically sent out via email to store managers in all locations on a regular basis.
As London Fashion Week draws to a close, we took a moment to check out some of the tech that made the headlines for us.
Livestreaming enables us to watch the shows anywhere we choose, or in the case of Topshop through a shop window. This season Topshop made this illusion come to life, collaborating with 3D agency Inition to create a virtual front row in the windows of their flagship store on Oxford street. Five Topshop fans had the opportunity to wear Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets & headphones, giving them a front row ticket to watch the vibrant A/W14 collection walk down the runway sitting in the window of Topshop.
Next up, Fyodor Golan’s collaboration with Nokia, his collection consisted of a piece that still has us reminiscing about his show: a £68,000 skirt that was made up of 80 Nokia Lumia 1520 Smartphones. Whatever happened to the classic pencil skirt? Golan has clearly tossed that trend out the window. The bell-shaped mini-skirt was broadcasting snaps of colored visuals, which looking like butterfly wings that were beating away.
Milan Fashion Pitch finalists Wowcracy made their mark, with their online fashion platform that enables you to purchase high quality fashion before it lands on the market. They pre-sold a new collection live from LFW, launching Milan based designer, Flavia La Rocca’s A/W14 collection on the opening day of LFW. Flavia La Rocca’s collection is a combination of sustainable materials and exquisite design, made available to buy through Wowcracy before hitting the stores in Autumn.
And finally, the “Twitter Mirror” made a debut at LFW, with Matthew Williamson giving it some serious showtime. The “mirror” was set-up like a photo booth backstage for celebrities, models, make-up artists, and a whole lot more to snap their selfies. All could be spied upon Matthew Williamson’s Twitter feed and under the ever evolving #OhMW.
Reported by Anisa Sojka