Innovation

zalando-shoes

Do you shop at Zalando? The retailer sells branded shoes and clothing to 15 European countries, and is the continent’s largest online fashion retailer. After a well-documented struggle last year, the online powerhouse is back on top: just last month, it reported its first full-year profit, leading to a sale of 17.9 million shares that are now trading 13 percent higher than their listing price. The share sale will increase liquidity in the stock, and boost chances for the Berlin-based retailer to join Germany’s MDAX index. But what’s next for Amazon Fashion’s European cousin?

It might be hard to believe now that Zalando sells 1500 brands to more than 13.5 million customers, but it was born as a start-up selling flip-flops. As the company grew bigger, comparisons have been consistently made with Asos. However, While both are Europe-based and sell other brands, the similarities probably end there – Zalando’s done everything bigger, including having twice as many customers, nearly twice as many brands and nearly three times as many products. But is bigger always necessarily better?

Zalando went public in October 2014 last year, joining other fashion retailers in making the move to the stock exchange in recent times (see: Boohoo, and soon, after merging with Yoox, Net-a-Porter). So what is it about Zalando that means it has come to turn a profit? Other than offering a huge range of products for a portion of online shoppers who want a one-stop shop for everything, the retailer also has an extremely highly rated shopping app in their roster (an unusual feat, even in today’s online-first retail world). Promising to make the experience of buying fashion even easier, the app includes neat features like street style photo inspiration, a barcode scanner to compare prices with items on high street, and an in-app parcel tracker.

To hear more from Zalando, be sure to attend our London Summit – on May 21, the retailer’s Head of Mobile Apps Christian Drehkopf will be in conversation with Jemima Kiss (The Guardian) and Daniel Murray (Grabble) to discuss how mobile strategy could be fashion’s big gamechanger.

Reported by Claire Healy

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Two major trends stood out at this year’s South by Southwest, Engagement and Relevance and here’s the lowdown on how they will impact brands in 2015.

1 – Engagement, the new storytelling

More than ever, fashion at SXSW is in search of meaning. Style and lifestyle no longer suffice. Brands arise that operate from the belief that fashion is more than representation. The increasingly dominant generation of millennials does not only consist of customers, but also brings forward designers and marketeers, and they are developing a new breed of brands.

The same language

These new brands are associated with concepts such as sustainability, self-expression and mindfulness. Entirely in accordance with the worldview of millennials this is a natural belief that goes without saying. This engagement doesn’t need to be emphasised all the time.

Hidden message

Look at the luxury brand Maiyet, Founder and creative director Kristy Caylor seemingly effortlessly combines a distinct style with traditional elements, sustainable sourcing and collaboration with craftsmanship from countries like India, Indonesia and Kenya. “Buying a two thousand dollar handbag is always about self indulgence.” she says. “We don’t have to wave a flag on sustainability. Millennials are getting it.”

Agile consumer

The previous generation, Generation X, thinks in extremes and sees no credible middle ground between charity or sustainability on the one hand and commerciality on the other. The millennial is much more agile and expects brands to be very commercial and intrinsically socially engaged at the same time.

Less for more

In the wider market this movement of awareness is also visible. In the middle and high fashion segments in the US, a slight decrease in the sales numbers is being reported (1% was mentioned), but people actually spent more (reportedly 5%). Established luxury brands play into this by creating more understated designs and marketing. They are forced to go back to their roots of craftsmanship and eye for detail, conveying their real value much better. Think back to the decision of Louis Vuitton to largely ban the famous monogram from their products.

From the heart

Even mainstream brands are slowly moving along, take high street favourite H&M’s 7 commitments (such as care for fashion conscious customers and selecting and rewarding responsible partners) begin to be credible and contribute to the already strong reasons to buying at H&M.

Fair share

To be clear, we’re not talking about an assumed identity. This conviction comes from within. As the next example, take Cuyana [http://www.cuyana.com/], a young brand from San Francisco. Founder Karla Gallardo explains that their motto is ‘Fewer, better items’ and that they recently started the ‘Lean closet movement’. Customers who choose ‘lean shipping’ at checkout receive a reusable bag that they can fill up with items that they don’t wear so much anymore. The items are sent to non-profit partners who make sure that the garments are delivered to people who really need them. The philosophy of Cuyana is about awareness and promotes, as they call it, intentional buying.

SXSW featured many brands with a similar mindset, and who certainly made it clear only authenticity survives. Check out The Real Real, Stelle Audio, Red Bubble and Repack.

2 Creating relevance: right place, right time, the right message

Consumers in 2015 aren’t either click or brick. They’re all over the place. They wake up with their smartphone (60% of Americans pick up their phone literally as the first thing they do every day) and they go to bed with it. From their laptop, they ‘like’ one of your posts on Facebook, to their afternoon of shopping in town before crashing on their couch in the evening with their tablet (30%). And when they’re in your bricks & mortar store they order your products using their phone (over 10%!). Because: why would you go stand in a long line at the checkout if you can order online immediately?

Channel chaos?

The word loyalty is hardly known by consumers these days. Confidence boosts the urge to discover and everything is just a click away. Google provides extreme transparency that even the luxury brands have to cope with. Customers want to buy quickly, easily and where and when it suits them.

Targeted content

How do you deal with that as a brand? How do you attract attention? A frequently heard solution at SXSW is personalisation: providing targeted content in the right place at the right time. Relevance, panelists say, is the only way to stand out for your busy customers.

Who, what, where

Big Data – knowing what your customers do, where they are, what they want – was a hot topic during SXSW this year. Big names such as ASOS, Topshop, Birchbox, Lincoln, etc. use the term. But it’s not entirely clear what brands are just flirting with the concept, and who is seriously doing good business with it.

Emotional connection

But knowing what customers do, where they are, what they want is just the start.

The brands that stand out, offer more than this, using inspirational content to reach customers on a personal level and provide an experience (check out the launch of Lincoln in China).

2015 will see the death of the segregated channels. A sale is a sale. Everyone in your organization has to contribute to it, no matter where and how that sale is made. In 2020, 80 percent of the world’s population will own a smartphone that is always online. New marketing will be commonplace: Big Data will have become BD, Internet of Things will be known as IOT. We’ll go from ‘bricks and mortar’ to ‘bricks and mobile’. Offline retail? That will cease to exist.

 Guestpost by Louise Roose and Pieter Jongerius, Fabrique

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When you go to Eva Chen’s Instagram, you receive the usual riot of colour-coordinated #shoesies, brunches and CTAs to buy carefully arranged products that you’d expect from your favourite fashion bloggers. Except Eva Chen’s actually an editor-in-chief – heading up Lucky magazine for two years this June, the stylish editor and prolific social media poster has taken the magazine into a new era. The key shift, for many, is the introduction of Lucky Shops – the e-commerce platform that now forms part of the Lucky Group alongside the magazine. When the announcement was made last Autumn to spin off from Conde Nast and join forces with BeachMint for a heavy focus on e-commerce, trendwatchers were worried. With other traditional media companies having tried and failed at e-commerce, where does the marriage of commerce and publishing stand in 2015?

 

While independent magazine publishing ostensibly booms, those traditionally at the top find it hard to compete in the global market. Just last week, Nylon Media Inc. announced that it was shutting down the U.S. print edition of its men’s magazine, Nylon Guys. According to statistics from MediaFinder, 190 new magazines launched in the US and Canada in 2014, but magazine closures were also on the up – 43 more magazines closed this year than last, bringing the total to 99.

 

One answer to the fashion magazine industry’s woes that’s been floated most often has been e-commerce. But not everyone has been as lucky as Eva Chen and her team’s social media-driven adventures in e-commerce – although, as it should be remembered, Lucky Shops is still in its early days. Condé Nast has been accused of reacting too slowly to the shifting landscape in their own industry, leaving them trailing behind. But their own e-commerce efforts will ramp up this year. Franck Zayan (formerly e-commerce director at Galeries Lafayette) is heading up a dedicated division at the media powerhouse, which is set to finally start selling products to its readers this year. Bridging commerce and content is something e-commerce companies have been doing for years – Net-a-Porter and ASOS, with their dedicated magazines, are of course primary examples – and it looks like the magazine industry’s biggest player is finally catching up.

 

Bolstered by the notion that consumers want their online commerce to be content-driven, the drive for e-commerce in publishing continues apace. Just this week, Condé Nast owned Glamour announced that it will begin some kind of e-commerce initiative this year – beginning first in the US and UK before branching out to all its international markets. It will be interesting to see whether consumers respond in the way that the editors at the top are hoping – which means, for Eva Chen and others, turning an Instagram like, or a turn of a magazine page, into an online purchase or two.

Written by: Claire Healy

applewatch

As most schoolchildren are told from a young age, A stands for Apple; April, on the other hand, surely stands for the Apple Watch. The industry’s most hotly-anticipated wearable has been preceded by months of speculation – could it sell as well as the iPad on its launch? Will it provide a natural fit for fashion editorials? Now, on the eve of its launch, keen industry-watchers are looking to Baselworld (the watch industry’s international trade fair) for possible rivals. There, a crop of new announcements are proving themselves worthy contenders to the smart watch throne – one which, as we should remind ourselves, Apple hasn’t ascended to quite yet.

 

Coming from the other side of the bridge where technology meets luxury fashion, TAG Heuer have announced their plans this week to release a smart watch by this Christmas. In a significant move against Apple’s projected domination, the first smart watch from the world-famous Swiss watch brand will run on Google’s Android operating system – on a processor, moreover, created by keen wearables power player Intel. You’ll have to wait to find out more, though. At the Baselworld conference, chief executive Jean-Claude Biver told the crowd, “We don’t want the competition to know what we are going to do.”

 

Never easily dismissed, the irrepressible musician-turned-technologist will.i.am also announced a new partnership at Baselworld. KERING-owned Gucci, which recently changed hands from the Gianninis to Alessandro Michele, will also bring its timepieces into a new era through a collaboration with willi.i.am’s range of wearables.

 

For those of you still convinced that Apple’s the only brand that will get you telling the time more smartly, there’s not long to wait: the official release date is slated for UK stores on 24 April, but you’ll be able to order from the 10th. But if Baselworld is anything to go by, the smartwatch marketplace is about to get very interesting.

Writer: Claire Healy

sephora

French beauty retailer Sephora is gunning to become a forerunner in digital beauty retailing with the launch of an innovation lab and four new digital initiatives.

Billed as an incubation hub for the ideation, development and testing of new digital initiatives, the lab – based in a San Francisco warehouse – will also host a monthly internal Think Tank team, charged with grooming the next generation of Sephora digital leaders, and predicting the shopping landscape five years from now. Additionally, it will house ‘Idea Central’ – a programme that sources and delivers ideas from employees, regardless of rank or role.

To coincide with the launch, Sephora has also prepared a number of key digital initiatives:

  • Devised in collaboration with New York-based, cross-platform beauty app Map My Beauty, Pocket Contour is a virtual make-up artist application for contouring. The app identifies face shapes and provides a personalised, step-by-step guide on how to create a contoured look. The tool can be accessed via Sephora’s website (on mobiles) or the app.
  • In April 2015, it will launch its first augmented reality (AR) experience via its existing Sephora-to-Go mobile app for iPhones. Users will be able to unlock digital content – including interviews with beauty experts, product videos and product pages on Sephora.com – by hovering over the faces of nine beauty brand founders, including US-based Laura Mercier, which are featured in windows and in-store display cases.
  • Bluetooth beacons are to be rolled out in Sephora stores across the US, delivering personalised alerts to the mobile devices of customers who have opted in to the service (see Sales-Boosting Beacons for more on how this works). When shoppers are either in or close to a branch, they can be notified when new demonstrations or activities are happening in-store, and receive birthday alerts or loyalty programme updates.
  • Lastly, frequent shoppers can sign up for Flash, which grants two-day shipping on all online products ordered within the US. The service is free for Rouge Beauty Insider members (the top tier of Sephora’s three-tier loyalty rewards programme), or $10 per year for all non-members

Guest post Stylus.com by Alison Gough, EditorKatie Baron, Head of Retail

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Decoded Fashion hits SXSW Interactive on March 13-17 – in the run-up, we’ll be posting content that gives you a sneak peek of what to expect: including panel sessions, special events and the return of our Mentorship Hub.

Hitting SXSW Interactive over the long weekend? The Decoded Fashion Mentorship Hub should be your first stop: there, you’ll find top execs and creatives from the fashion, retail and beauty world ready to share their expert knowledge and coach startup founders on growing their business. SXstyle, taking place at the JW Marriott Hotel, has plenty more to pique your interest. Get the lowdown on SXSW’s most stylish arm with our essential guide – from screenings to talks, here’s the best of the rest.

The Emperor’s New…Wearables?

This panel will thrash out the notion of devices that will disappear altogether in years to come. Speakers including Brandon Little (CCO, Fossil) and Sandra Lopez (Intel) will discuss how big industry players will make wearable electronics feel increasingly invisible.

(Friday March 13, 12.30pm)

Is there still room for Fashion Blogging?

This panel is inspired by last year’s New York Magazine article by influential fashion critic Robin Givhan, which asked whether the influence of the noughties’ fashion guerrillas is waning in a post-digital age. Presented by Caroline Waxler, founder of Harkness Hall, this talk will explore what’s next for bloggers – how can they stay relevant in a crowded blogosphere?

(Tuesday March 17, 11.00am)

T H E U N S E E N

Taking place at the Austin Convention Centre, this interactive talk and demo session showcase the work of Material Alchemist Lauren Bowker and her team of anatomists, engineers and chemists. Their world aims to collide couture luxury products and science in unforeseen ways – including a recent, color-changing AIR collection. Perfect for those who want to check out the vanguard of material design.

(Monday March 16, 12.30pm)

Full details of Decoded Fashion’s SXSW activities can be found here.

Reported by Claire Healy

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SXSW Interactive is almost here! In the run-up for the festival on March 13-17, it’s time to take a moment to sign up for our special events, featuring new hot startups as well as established brands. And most involve a cocktail or two.

Decoded Fashion hits SXSW this year with the goal to bring the tech networking experience back to face-to-face interaction. Our Mentorship Hub, supported by Simon and Swarovski, will bring together industry gamechangers and those just starting out in 10-minute mentorship meetings.

And if you meet 10 rising stars in the Fashion + Tech space, register to attend the event on Friday presenting the winners of Simon’s startup competition, followed by Decoded Fashion’s Networking Party. Our global #DFMeetup series lands in Austin to help you mingle with the biggest names in fashion & Tech.

Saturday is content day – with five sessions to pick from at the JW Marriott Hotel. We’ll start the day talking about disruption in brands with HFarm, one the largest startup incubators in Europe, John Lewis, a retailer innovating through R&D, hacks and startup collaboration and our own Liz Bacelar, creator of the world’s first fashion hackathon. Also, don’t miss the ‘Meet the New Retail Disruptors’ showcase at 2pm, discussing the most innovative tech in retail – what matters and what doesn’t.

After all that mingling you might be ready for a digital detox. On Sunday, March 15, the suited and booted guys over at menswear start-up Combatant Gentlemen will be around to show you their innovative design-to-delivery model firsthand – along with a complementary massage.

On Monday, March 16 at 2pm, Cortexica, an industry leader in image recognition and Visual Search Technology, will be on hand to demonstrate their algorithmic findSimilar™ technology – and explain why it’s set to change the future of shopping. To end the day on the more style-focussed end of the spectrum is globally feted jewellery designer Kendra Scott, will be showcasing her new jewellery collection on a living garden wall at 5pm.

Full details of Decoded Fashion’s SXSW activities can be found here.

Reported by Claire Healy

Image: SXSW 2014

NRF

Image source: https://nrf.com

Not ones to leave room for misinterpretation, NRF’s Annual Expo and Convention earned the nickname “Retail’s BIG show” some years ago – and yes, it’s sprawling enough to be quite difficult to summarise in the space of an article. A leading flagship event in the industry, the four-day event took place in New York just last week. For those of us who couldn’t make it, here’s our rundown of the top emerging retail trends set to disrupt the in-store/on-line shopping experience in a big way in 2015.

Interactive mirrors

Intel’s interactive MemoMi MemoryMirror was an undoubted star of NRF. A digital mirror designed for changing rooms, it captures and augments the experience of trying on clothing: including 360-degree views, comparisons of what you’ve tried on so far and virtual garment changes. The omni-channel MemoryMirror is already in place at Neiman Marcus, where it has prompted increased customer loyalty and boosted sales. On the flip side, more interaction means more valuable information can be converted: turning the anonymous customer into a fully connected one. But don’t worry – we don’t think the mirror can tell whether you’re the most beautiful of all just yet.

The digital wallet

Will collaborations between big tech companies and retailers convince us to ditch our metal and plastic in 2015? Digital wallets – that is, payment methods that use any connected device such as your smartphone – are designed for two reasons: to allow consumers to shop not only more quickly, but (arguably) more securely. In-store, contactless payment terminals make transactions speedier, whilst at home it can also facilitate online shopping as it stores payment details. In a panel discussion dedicated to the subject, speakers agreed that making the transaction easier will inevitably win over customers – as those speaking were Maria Thomas (of SmartThings) and Lisa Gavales (CEO of Things Remembered), however, their vested interest in proclaiming the dawn of the digital wallet was pretty evident.

Crowdsourced clothes

Are customers the new designers? In the age of crowdsourcing and crowdfunding, allowing customers input into the process of bringing a product to the point of sale could be the key to not only engaging customers, but also shaking up a manufacturing process that hasn’t caught up with the digital generation. One of NRF’s most popular talks was given by Jane Park, CEO of award winning website Julep: a beauty brand that uses crowdsourced feedback and technological innovation to produce and launch 300 new products each year. One case in point is the brand’s Plié Wand nail polish applicator, for which 6000 customers pledged $75,000 toward developing the product – and that’s within a mere 24 hours.

 Even faster delivery

The rise of click-and-collect has been one of the biggest success stories for retailers this season: take John Lewis, whose Click and Collect service overtook its home delivery and helped online sales grow 19% over the Christmas period. New delivery concepts were on the agenda at NRF, however – for example, VP of corporate strategy at Cole Haan Kyle Gallery spoke about the brand’s efforts in trying out new delivery innovations. Its partnership with Uber Rush – offering New Yorkers $10 same day delivery on online purchases in September – was immensely successful, with customers receiving their goods within the hour. Overall, NRF showed that the next step for faster delivery won’t be drones, but rather, somewhere in the middle. Wipro’s drone caught eyes at the Exhibition Hall, but its Wipro Sight System provides shelf space analysis in the warehouse space as opposed to delivering your new shoes to your front door.

Reported by: Claire Healy

4circle

“American Express is opening a new tech lab in Palo Alto to focus on big data, cloud computing and mobile infrastructure. The company expects to employ about 200 people at the lab, said Marc Gordon, executive vice president and CIO at American Express.”

Read Article

The Winners

Yesterday fresh from the battlefield of the weekend’s Fashion Hackathon five teams pitched for the chance to be crowned top hack. With just 24hrs to polish there products and prepare to present in front of William Kim, CEO of AllSaints, Caroline Rush, Chief Executive of the British Fashion Council, Designer Lulu Guinness and an audience of over 350 fashion, retail and technology professionals.

All teams impressed with ideas ranging from enhanced fitting room experiences to creating unique content at the point of sale, but who did the top spots go to…

First Place: LOOP

Second Place: SUFFRO

Third Place: BESPOKY

All teams will have the chance to have their technology implemented in store and online,  the winning team LOOP will be taking a trip to San Francisco to meet with top industry players from fashion and technology. Not bad eh?

Congratulations to all our finalists!

 

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