Weekly Stories

Decoded Fashion - NYFW FW16 Tech
Image source: Wareable

Earlier this week, it was announced that the next exhibit to grace the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute will be entitled ‘Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology.’ Was this a sign of a very tech-focused New York Fashion Week to come? As usual, there was plenty of innovation on the city’s runways for AW16, from Intel’s clever Curie Module to interesting fashion-meets-fitness collaborations.

Coach and Google reconsider the live stream

Fans who didn’t make it to the benches of Coach’s runway show were, of course, able to live stream it from the comfort of their homes – but this live stream took things up a gear. Coach used Google Cardboard to create an immersive streaming experience for its fans, with 360-degree video offering up the opportunity to watch the brand’s FW16 show in more detail than ever before. While Topshop was the first brand to use virtual reality to to live stream its runway show last year, Coach is the first brand to have done it using Google Cardboard. Those wishing to get a piece of the action either had to pick up a pair of Coach-branded Cardboard ‘binoculars’ in their nearest Coach store, or simply request a set to be sent to them via Instagram or Snapchat.

Fast-track to the front row

Over recent seasons, Tommy Hilfiger has become something of pioneer for fashion-tech innovation. While incorporating the latest digital trends – like Periscope, for example – may have worked well in the past to generate a buzz and increase engagement from those not able to attend Hilfiger’s runway show itself, the brand decided to push a different strategy for FW16. This time, the focus was on making things easier for those privileged enough to receive an invite to the show. Attendees were able to ‘fast-track’ their way to their seats using their Apple Watches – a simple-yet-brilliant, stress-reducing idea that other designers will probably implement in future shows. Furthermore, fourteen ‘Instagram-famous’ figures were invited to sit in Hilfiger’s exclusive ‘InstaPit’, which was designed especially to give these iPhone-yielding bloggers and style influencers the best view for taking the perfect Instagram pictures. A smart publicity move.

Intel continues to innovate

We saw Intel’s Curie module, which launched in August 2015, pop up at New York Fashion Week last season on the Chromat runway, where it was generally well-received by both the brand’s fans and the press, so it wasn’t a great surprise to see the two companies collaborate again for FW16. This season, Intel’s efforts manifested in an LED-embedded ‘Lumia’ collection of dresses which, connected to sensors wrapped around models’ hands and wrists, lit up in response to pressure. In another smart move, Intel issued out emoji-themed, Curie module-powered pin badges to style influencers in a bid to boost awareness of the company’s fashion endeavours. The emoji pins were able to track wearers’ movement, step count and location.

FitBit hopes to sway the fashion crowd

Fitness trackers have been a key trend on the wearables scene for a while now – many brands have pushed fashion-forward options in order to score new buyers – so while Fitbit’s newly announced collaboration with NY brand Public School certainly isn’t groundbreaking, it at least looks impressive. During Public School’s FW16 show, the brand debuted five gender-neutral variations of Fitbit’s slimline Alta model, designed by Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Obsborne.

“We keep thinking how can we push the boundaries of fitness and fashion … We’re finally comfortable with the product we have that allows us the versatility that’s important when you partner with fashion brands,” Tim Rosa, FitBit’s VP of Global Marketing, told Mashable.

FitBit hopes to sway the fashion crowd

While many NYFW labels kept things cool in terms of tech, others just couldn’t resist the dramatic, showy element a bit of digitisation can bring to a piece of clothing. VFILES designer Nayana Malhotra, whose desire to create garments that looked “like wearing the Internet” was translated into a series of capes with GIFs projected onto them. Other designers such as threeASFOUR, Ohne Titel and Alexis Walsh all experimented with 3D printing

This season NY has definitely taken a departure from tech for tech’s sake with some brands still uncertain on how tech can best be used to push them forward.

What brands are killing it in the digital space? Join us at the Fashion Futures Award on May 18th to find out. Book your ticket now.

Reported by Grace Howard

Decoded Fashion - Powder Personalised Beauty
Image source: Powder

British publisher Time Inc. UK has launched a beauty website called Powder that offers personalised product suggestions based on users’ self-selected filters, shrewdly wrapped in corresponding editorial content. A box of personalised products (both samples and full-size) can also be ordered for £36 ($52) every quarter.

Consumers create a free profile based on a series of questions determining personal needs and preferences such as age, skin type and budget, plus specific product-related questions including ‘what would you like your mascara to do?’, or ‘how much coverage would you like?’

Users search by product type to receive personalised recommendations, each of which is accompanied by insider tips from beauty editors, mimicking the in-store experience but with the bonus of top-flight editorial acumen. The products can be clicked to buy (users are transferred to brands’ e-commerce sites) or stored in a virtual wish list dubbed the Beauty Drawer.

Consumers can also browse the Beauty Feed, a regularly updated section that resembles an online magazine. Health and beauty-themed editorial content is mixed with new product launches and additional tips from in-house beauty experts – all curated to match consumers’ previously stated preferences.

The extra level of relevance is music to the ears of advertising beauty brands like French giant L’Oreal (already on board), which are assured of more effective native advertising.

Guest post Stylus.com by Marta PodeszwaKatie Baron

Decoded Fashion - Weekly Stories - Nixon NYC
Image source: eddieeng.com

From high visibility storefronts to customisation bars, plus a new wave of European-originated luxury, we highlight the most inspiring recent US watch retail openings.

  • Window onto the Atelier: Californian watch brand Nixon has opened its debut New York store on Prince Street, SoHo. Designed by British agency Checkland Kindleysides, the space is the latest roll-out of its concept The Horizon, which subtly references the rhythm and flow of the ocean in a nod to its surfer following. To avoid the alienation of encasing the product behind glass barriers, all the watches are displayed on a sculptural centrepiece of undulating plinths, which appear to emerge from an under-lit blue tank. That visibility is echoed in the all-glass frontage of the 279 sq ft store, which gives passersby a clear view onto the brand’s workshop-style aesthetic. It also boasts a customisation bar at the rear of the space.

  

  • Crisp, Calm & Customisable: Anglo-Swedish contemporary watch label Larsson Jennings has opened its first US concept store in Nolita, New York. Also featuring a predominantly glass storefront, the space includes modular displays hand built in Oxfordshire, England, which replicate the aesthetic of the brand’s crisp, minimal London flagship. The stark white interior showcases its full product range, including the LJX Custom area, where shoppers can choose from a selection of straps and hardware for bespoke timepieces.

  

  • Cinematic Flair on Rodeo Drive: Two luxury Swiss watchmakers – IWC Schaffhausen and Audemars Piguet – have unveiled stores on Los Angeles’ high-end retail strip Rodeo Drive. IWC’s two-storey destination marks a new retail concept for the brand that reference’s LA’s cinematic heritage via an Art-Deco-inspired interior, film-themed lounge and a gallery of photographs, props and memorabilia charting the brand’s history in the film industry.

Meanwhile, Audemars Piguet’s 1,342 sq ft, three-floor boutique flagship presents a more straightforward ode to luxury in oak, stone and luxurious metallic surfaces.

  

  • Promoting Domestic Production: Cult Detroit-based watchmaker and lifestyle retailer Shinola has opened its first San Francisco location in Palo Alto, California. Reflecting the brand’s commitment to conveying American heritage, as well as echoing its other destinations, the store design and visual merchandising is rooted in wooden worktables, vintage memorabilia and industrial fixtures. This space precedes a 3,200 sq ft megastore due to open in the heart of the city at the end of February 2016, which will feature an area dedicated to US products.

  

Guest post Stylus.com by Alison Gough & Katie Baron

Decoded Fashion - Weekly Stories - London Fashion Week Democratisation
Image source: London Fashion Weekend

Ahead of London Fashion Week, the British Fashion Council has laid out new plans with the aim to increase consumer engagement during the event. Firstly they have partnered with Ocean Outdoor, a media company which specialises in digital billboards, to enable live streaming of London Fashion Week to the public. While you may have seen similar screens pop up around London during previous fashion weeks, this time the BFC are thinking bigger; Ocean Outdoor’s screens will be located at 60 outdoor locations across the UK, bringing in an estimated viewership of 35 million people.

Other initiatives in place for LFW include talks, in association with American Express, with the likes of Gareth Pugh and Sølve Sundsbo, and some brands intend to make individual efforts to connect with the consumer. Topshop.com, for example, will showcase a podcast series featuring NewGen designers like Ryan Lo and Danielle Romeril discussing the inspirations behind their latest work.

Across the pond, tickets to New York Fashion Week are on sale to the public at a premium. London, meanwhile, has London Fashion Weekend (February 25th – 28th), which will give those outside of the industry set the opportunity to see FW16 runway shows from four esteemed London designers: Mary Katrantzou, Temperley London, Holly Fulton and Emilia Wickstead. In comparison to New York’s lofty ticket prices, entry to London Fashion Weekend would cost you as little as £20.

Recently, Burberry, Vetements, Tommy Hilfiger and Tom Ford have all announced that they will no longer be conforming to the traditional fashion calendar. Vetements will be showing its women’s and men’s collections in January and June, two months ahead of the rest of Paris Fashion Week’s shows. Burberry and Tom Ford, meanwhile, will be releasing their new-season wares for sale as soon as they’ve done the rounds on the catwalk. In a statement, Burberry’s Christopher Bailey said these changes “will allow us to build a closer connection between the experience that we create with our runway shows and the moment when people can physically explore the collections for themselves.”

>There’s no denying that the fashion system is undergoing a major overhaul. Will the BFC’s ‘consumer first’ initiatives – and individual brands’ efforts to defy the rules of the long-standing fashion calendar – really help to democratise fashion and, in turn, boost consumer spending? Once the AW16 shows have come to a close, it’s likely the future of fashion will be much clearer.

Join the BFC at our London Summit, this May 17-18, where they will be looking to at the future of fashion weeks. Super early bird tickets available until February 20, book your ticket here.

Reported by Grace Howard

Decoded Fashion - Weekly Stories - The School of Life
Image source: The School of Life, Harrods

Post-Christmas, a plethora of department stores have homed in not only on the annual panic to get fitter, but also a wider, and likely more enduring appetite for wellness – a booming sector. The wellness industry is set to generate global sales of $1trn by 2017, surging 36% from $735.5bn in 2013 (Euromonitor) – a finding reflected in Twitter’s top three New Year’s resolutions for 2016: fitness, healthy eating and “being a better person”.

Straddling wellness festivals, talks, product demos, food-hall takeovers and limited edition products, we review the best initiatives.

  • Try Something New – Food, Fitness & Mindfulness: British store Harrods’ storewide Happy New You festival is celebrating health, happiness and holistic wellbeing. The series of in-store activities are being hosted in collaboration with three wellness-focused businesses under the hashtag #TryJanuary.

British health coach and cookbook author Madeleine Shaw has assumed the temporary role of ‘Chef of the Season’, creating “healthy gourmet treats” exclusively available in the store’s food hall until the end of February. She’ll also be demonstrating her “clean eating cooking skills” in the store’s cookshop space on Sunday February 7, closing the event.

London-based “better living consultancy” The School of Life offered four free mindfulness classes covering career, priorities, creativity and lifestyle. An adjacent bookshop sold a range of stationery and books related to the same topics.

Meanwhile, for fitness-focused consumers, US gym chain Equinox hosted demonstrations of yoga, boxing and barre classes in a sportswear fashion space.

  

  • Insider Acumen: Heritage British store Liberty targeted the topic via a month of ‘Be Well’ beauty, fitness, nutrition and fashion events – most of which were echoed on its e-commerce site.

Key initiatives included a fitness training event dubbed #TrainTuesday with Nike. Consumers who bought Nike garments at Liberty could sign up for a free, high-intensity cycling workout at Psycle, Canary Wharf – an official Liberty x Nike+ Training Club takeover.

The brand also ran beauty classes with experts Kate Shapland, founder of cellulite cream brand Legology, and Arabella Preston, founder of natural face-oil company Votary. In addition, it also hosted panel discussions with industry insiders such as Lily Simpson, founder of food-box subscription service The Detox Kitchen, and wellness magazine Hip&Healthy.

Trading on the latter, Liberty collaborated with Hip&Healthy on a bespoke ‘Be Well’ box featuring nine wellbeing products, handpicked by British beauty editors. The campaign runs until February 13.

 

  • Editorial Focus – Tips and Tricks for Athleisure: UK brand John Lewis has launched Re:New_All. The wellness initiative revolves around a dedicated section on its e-commerce site featuring athleisure clothing and wellness product editorials, fitness plans, healthy recipes and sleeping tips. The online overview was complemented by a wellbeing-attuned product edit in its main windows.

  

  • Longer-Term Plans – The Body Studio: British brand Selfridges is wholeheartedly jumping onto the wellness bandwagon with plans to open an entirely new floor called The Body Studio in its London destination in April 2016. Located on the top floor in former office space, it will stock more than 100 brands, as well as a wellness café. The new development will debut with the theme ‘Everybody’, celebrating the body and inner beauty. The theme is similar to its 2014 campaign The Beauty Project, which championed diversity in the beauty sector.
  • Retail Introductions: American brand Saks Fifth Avenue has introduced Beautiful Discoveries for spring – a multi-store beauty/fitness drive. In-store, beauty consumers are being invited to test free services including facials, manicures, massages and skin analysis at selected beauty counters. Further afield, the brand hosted pop-up shops at popular upscale fitness centres including AKT, Pure Yoga and Physique 57 in New York and Beverly Hills. There, beauty experts demonstrated quick-application, post-gym make-up tips, and distributed vouchers for in-store pick-up gifts.

  

Guest post Stylus.com by Katie Baron & Stefanie Dorfer

Decoded Fashion - Weekly Stories - Notify Nearby
Image source: AppAdvice

A new study released by Planet Retail and Wipro affirms that retailers must provide meaningful customer experiences in order to achieve results.

‘The Era of the Individual: Unleashing the Power of ME’ contains some key takeaways – as noted in our CES 2016 report, pressure is mounting on bricks-and-mortar retailers to deliver high-quality customer experiences. So how can stores use tech to revolutionise their businesses, and avoid getting caught in the trap of using tech for tech’s sake?

Approaching Beacon Technology the Right Way

Although it’s been on the scene for a while, the ability of beacon technology to connect with consumers shouldn’t be underestimated. One start-up, Notify Nearby, uses the technology in conjunction with its iOS app to deliver targeted information to customers about the stores that they shop in.

With participants like DKNY, Reiss, Uniqlo, Saks and Nike on board, Notify Nearby is fashion-specific and claims it doesn’t bombard users with ads or promotional content, unlike other apps. A push notification is sent whenever they pass a beacon from one of the participating stores, using targeted information to alert the user of the retailer’s latest updates – be they coupons, flash sales or product launches.

Seamless Online-Offline Transition

With all the industry’s talk of omni-channel retail, one point is abundantly clear: the customer’s transition between a brand’s online and offline worlds should be seamless.

Creating a strong in-store presence has the potential to reduce the numbers of ‘showrooming’ customers (who come in-store solely to browse, before heading home to purchase online). Retailers can tackle this in various ways, such as matching online prices, allowing a speedy click-and-collect service, or incorporating tech in-store with impressive concepts like magic mirrors and interactive fitting rooms.

Making a Strong Workforce Stronger

It’s no secret that taking the time to recruit high-calibre salespeople pays off in the form of happier, more satisfied customers. Self-service checkouts and other ‘people-free’ technology may work well in supermarkets, but in fashion, a more personable approach is what really drives sales.

The answer, then, is to use technology to make fashion retail’s workforce stronger, rather than replace it altogether. The use of tablets (enabling staff to view a customer’s purchase history in order to make tailored product recommendations, for example) and mobile POS systems can be used in stores to wow people on both sides of the cash desk.

Continue the discussion on Revolutionary Tech Vs. Tech for Tech’s Sake at our London Summit on May 17-18. Book your super early-bird ticket here.

Reported by Grace Howard

Decoded Fashion - Weekly Stories - Selfridges Chinese New Year
Image source: Selfridges, CNY

While luxury spending in China itself is decreasing, the appetite for spending away from home has risen by 10% over the past year – 78% of Chinese shoppers continue to buy their premium purchases abroad (Bain & Company, 2016). Chinese shoppers and Chinese New Year (CNY) – which falls on February 8 this year – therefore remain a critical target area.

From personalised gifting to reworked product edits, we highlight the best retail initiatives.

Department Store Drives:

  • US department store chain Bloomingdale’s is hosting events, in-store pop-up shops carrying giftable fashion and accessories edits and art installations in selected outposts. Additionally, it is giving away red envelopes containing special offers and gift-card prizes in denominations of the Chinese lucky number eight ($8, $88, $888).

The concepts complement permanent tourist-centric strategies including a welcome guidebook in simplified Chinese, and the provision of Mandarin-speaking sales staff on request.

  • American store Lord & Taylor is trading on the premise of ‘new year, new you’ with a beefed-up beauty proposition (new products and beauty sessions). It is also offering complementary red tote bags with every purchase, fortune cookies on all floors, and a CNY fashion edit window display.
  • British brand Selfridges is hosting a small in-store parade featuring live performances from Chinese musicians. It has also created CNY lucky red gift-card envelopes and is offering fortune cookies throughout the store. Several in-store brands, including fashion labels Coach and Ted Baker and luggage retailer Globe-Trotter, are offering complementary gifts and services for shoppers spending heavily. Gifts include limited-edition notebooks, personalisable gifting envelopes, CNY-themed charms and embossing services for leather products.
  • At its Manchester location (UK), British department store Harvey Nichols is hosting a CNY shopping event with live music and late shopping hours. It has also curated a bespoke, CNY-attuned edit of new-season fashion and accessories, and will be handing out lucky-dip envelopes to everyone spending £75+ ($107+) for the chance to win exclusive prizes. Its cardholders will also receive free beauty samples and tutorials, plus personalised fashion illustrations sketched live by British illustrator Dom&Ink.

Weekly-Stories-Bloomingdales-CNY Weekly-Stories-Lord-&-Taylor-CNY Weekly-Stories-Harvey-Nichols-CNY

Power of Personalisation

  • Chinese department store Lane Crawford has created a dedicated microsite called Lunar New Year 2016. Consumers can personalise e-greetings with an interactive ‘Calligraphy Creator’ that visualises virtually ‘handwritten’ messages selected from a range of graphic backgrounds designed by renowned contemporary Chinese artists. These can be sent via Facebook, Twitter or email.
  • At Selfridges, shoppers who spend more than £100 ($143) can personalise fans with traditional Chinese calligraphy for free via an expert stationed on the women’s accessories floor.
  • British luxury brand Burberry has launched a social media campaign allowing its WeChat account members to interact with its CNY collection. Users can tap, swipe and shake their phones to ‘unwrap’ gifts and personalise holiday greetings, which can then be forwarded on to their WeChat contacts.

Weekly-Stories-Lane-Crawford-CNY Weekly-Stories-Burberry-x-Dreamworks-CNY Weekly-Stories-Burberry-CNY

CNY-Themed Product Launches & Adaptations

  • Echoing Lord & Taylor’s ‘beauty boost’ approach to CNY, Lane Crawford has created a “New Year, New You Beauty Box” in collaboration with Chinese fashion designer Angel Chen. The box, which is covered in a vibrant flower print and converts into a handbag, houses deluxe beauty brands including Skin Laundry, Hourglass and Diptyque.
  • Sports giants Nike, Converse and Adidas have all released special edition trainers to celebrate CNY featuring traditional colours, such as red, or stitched, printed or embossed Chinese or Zodiac sign symbols.
  • Louis Vuitton, Salvatore Ferragamo and Prada have all introduced limited-edition leather accessories shaped like monkeys. Meanwhile, Kenzo has created a capsule collection of sweaters and T-shirts paying homage to the auspicious Chinese colours of red and gold, and emblazoned with the brand’s signature tiger.
  • Burberry’s e-initiative is supported by a rebooted collection of its signature products (cashmere scarves, trench coats and totes) reworked in ‘Parade Red’ and flashes of gold for the occasion.

Weekly-Stories-Lane-Crawford-Beauty-Box-CNY Weekly-Stories-Prada-CNY Weekly-Stories-Adidas-CNY

Guest post Stylus.com by Katie Baron & Stefanie Dorfer

Decoded Fashion - Weekly Stories - Designer Departures
Image source: Vogue

In July 2015, it was announced that Alexander Wang would be leaving Balenciaga, following a short stint at the helm of the brand. The departure seemed to trigger a ripple effect: over the next few months, Raf Simons left Dior, Jonathan Saunders shuttered his label, and Alber Elbaz stepped down from his 14-year tenure as artistic director of Lanvin.

Last year marked a tumultuous time for the fashion industry, and this year looks set to be a similarly bumpy ride, with Grace Coddington’s departure from her creative director position at Vogue, and Giles Deacon calling time on his ready-to-wear label. Some designers’ reasons for leaving have been publicly outed (Deacon’s decision manifested from his desire to focus on couture; Elbaz was dismissed by Lanvin and its majority shareholder), while others have kept schtum. But in light of these recent shake-ups, one word on the lips of fashion critics, professionals and hobbyists alike is ‘burnout.’

While we do not know where Raf Simons will go next (if anywhere at all, besides the realms of his own label), we do know that he left Dior for “personal reasons” and, prior to his departure, he told Vogue International editor Susy Menkes of the “terrible agenda” that comes with holding the fort at an esteemed luxury brand. “The pressure on retailing, aggravated by online sales and the speed of the digital world, has exacerbated the situation,” said Menkes in a Vogue feature. “Then there is social media, as the voracious demands of Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook eat into time and designers fight for attention and links to celebrities,” she added.

Menkes isn’t wrong. In our current, ever-connected climate, the pressure is truly on for fashion brands – as consumers are becoming increasingly fussy with their money, they’re also becoming more demanding. And it’s no wonder we feel entitled to have it all – bricks-and-mortar retailers are falling over themselves to catch up with fast-paced, discount-heavy e-tailers, and luxury brands are inching closer to figuring out which pieces of tech can help to establish relationships with customers.

We live in a world where Olivier Rousteing, Balmain’s creative director, is one of fashion’s best-known designers due to his social media savvy; at the time of writing, his glossy, Kardashian-filled Instagram account boasts a cool 2.2 million followers. There’s no doubt that while technology has done fashion so much good, it has also had a detrimental knock-on effect. The ‘noise’ surrounding us may have drowned out one very important point: stress kills creativity. And fashion designers are feeling the brunt of it.

There are, no doubt, more episodes of ‘musical chairs’ in store for fashion in 2016 – this will only be resolved once the industry collectively decides to slow down. In order to innovate, designers need more time – as a WWD journalist put it: “the industry seems to have embraced warp speed as the new black”. In order to keep the conversion rate high, retailers need to put the effort into ditching gimmickry, and finding out what the modern consumer really wants from a shopping experience.

Reported by Grace Howard

Decoded Fashion - Weekly Stories - JW Anderson Workshops
Image source: JW Anderson Workshops, Ace Hotel Londons

True to his reputation for going against the grain, Irish fashion designer J.W. Anderson has suspended plans for a flagship in favour of opening a gallery-inspired, revolving showcase of collaborative projects. He intends the projects – dubbed ‘workshops’ – to reflect his own passion for crafts, culture and overall experimentation.

An endeavour between himself and “kindred spirit” creators at east London’s trendy Ace Hotel, the Jonathan Anderson Workshops were inspired by the Omega Workshops (an early 20th-century literary/painting collective founded by members of the UK’s Bloomsbury set), and experimental Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake.

From January 28, the 250 sq ft space will showcase projects including ceramics, music, photography and more to the public, featuring a different visual ‘editor’ each month. Anderson has only committed to “selling items occasionally”. A fashion photography book by Spanish magazine publisher Luis Venegas, featuring J.W. Anderson archive pieces, kicks off the proceedings.

The new concept underscores Anderson’s staunch views on the role of brand flagships. He believes luxury labels need to consider cultural context and more personal modes of behaviour. “[We live] not in a luxury world, but a cultural world — where we have to create more experience,” he told The Business of Fashion. “The luxury environment just isn’t personalised anymore.”

Guest post Stylus.com by Katie BaronStefanie Dorfer

Decoded Fashion - Weekly Stories - NRF retail
Image source: NRF

Mobile payments were the hot topic of last year’s National Retail Federation Big Show. Although NFC was still a buzzword at this year’s event, other issues – like omni-channel retailing and the increased spending power of millennials – came into play. We’ve analysed some of the emerging trends.

Swapping Virtual Reality for Reality

With last year’s raft of news stories explaining that millennials are more interested in purchasing experiences than material objects, it has become paramount for retailers to keep their customers engaged. In an increasingly tech-driven retail landscape, GoInStore’s technology gives in-store salespeople the opportunity to speak to online shoppers in need of assistance.

An in-store salesperson can wear a pair of GoInStore glasses, created by Epson, to allow an online customer to see items from the salesperson’s point of view. This could be a game changer for companies selling high-ticket items like designer goods, or indeed any items that are best seen ‘in the flesh’ before purchasing.

Augmented Reality Provides a Solution for Time-Poor Retailers

Earlier this month, advisory firm Digi-Capital forecast augmented reality (AR) revenue to hit $120bn by 2020. Unsurprisingly then, the trend for AR-enabled technology continued to shine through at NRF.

During a panel on AR, James Ingram, CEO of production company Splashlight, spoke of its benefits for fashion retail, commenting: “You can’t compete without personalisation.” Splashlight works with Looklet, a clever piece of tech that allows e-tailers to shoot one image of a model and then virtually ‘change’ their clothes with the brand’s newest lines – a perfect solution for today’s fast fashion landscape, which usually requires retailers to constantly photograph new product.

Mobile Devices are More Important Than Ever

The results of a survey into consumers’ mobile shopping habits, commissioned by the Economist Intelligence Unit, were revealed at NRF. Findings showed 69% of respondents use either smartphones or desktops for shopping but, crucially, 81% of millennials claimed to primarily use their smartphones to make online purchases. So, as long as the spending power of millennials is on the rise, it would be wise for retailers to think hard about the capabilities of their mobile apps or sites.

Mobile devices could also shake things up on the shop floor. Diebold has created a new technology that allows consumers to use their mobiles to scan items they wish to purchase while shopping in-store. They can then pay for the goods by simply tapping their phone on a self-checkout unit, alleviating the need to queue.

Retailers Need Exceptional In-Store Experiences

As tech becomes more powerful and relevant to today’s retail landscape, this year’s NRF really drove home the fact that bricks-and-mortar retailers need to offer exceptional in-store experiences in order to survive.

One example of a brand getting it right is Burberry, which, for several years, has integrated its extensive e-tail offerings with its ‘offline’ retail experience. In-store, staff use iPads to showcase products and profile customers, while LED screens stream recent footage from the Burberry runway.

At the other end of the market, a great deal of high-street giant Zara’s success can be put down to its speedy supply chain. The Inditex Group brand adds new lines every fortnight – comparably faster than its competitors – encouraging shoppers to return. Robin Lewis, CEO of the Robin Report, told Retail Dive: “Consumers can’t wait to go to [a Zara] store to see the new lines… Zara’s visitation rate is 17 times a year vs 4 for traditional retailers because [customers] don’t want to miss the nuance of that. That is a form of experience.”

So, what is the store of the future? Join us at SXSW in March as we explore this topic and many more. See more details here.

Reported by Grace Howard

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