“Shop, do and learn” under one roof: that’s the formula for the modern department store, according to Paula Nickolds, managing director of British retailer John Lewis.
She was speaking at the opening of a new 230,000 sq ft unit in Westfield London, now Europe’s largest shopping centre. Innovations in the store – the company’s 50th location – include a Discovery Room where customers can learn how to light a room, create a smart home or hang a picture.
Also new is the Style Studio, a 700 sq ft space for both male and female customers to meet personal stylists. A new app enables customers to keep in touch with stylists, alerted by text or email about products or collections. Stylists were trained by former Vogue UK fashion director Lucinda Chambers.
Some of the innovations were trialled last year in John Lewis’s Oxford store.
“The shop demonstrates our latest thinking on how department stores can be a place in which you can shop, do and learn in a way you haven’t been able to before,” explained Nickolds. “We are bringing… a new level of personalised, curated shopping which until now has been the preserve of boutique shops.”
All 500 staff (called “partners” at John Lewis) were trained in theatrical skills by National Theatre actors. Peter Cross, customer experience director, said: “Actors are outstanding communicators and that’s an important element in offering personal service.”
Sheila Chawla from the National Theatre explained: “Communication is made up of not just what you say but how you say it. Body language, voice and expression are all as important as our words.”
See also Next-Level Dept. Store Strategies.
With excessive plastic waste under the spotlight, sustainable and plant-based alternatives are currently in development. Plastics derived from sugarcane are among the innovations. We highlight the latest applications for these biopolymers.
For more on the latest plastic developments, new solutions and bio-based alternatives for cross-industry applications, look out for our upcoming Evolving Plastics report, publishing in April.
A big trend for streamlined, multipurpose skincare packed with benefits is driving a wave of exciting new start-ups and product launches. The latest comes from luxe biochemistry brand Orveda, whose latest 3-in-1 hybrid emulsion combines three treatments for intense hydration and skin recovery.
The Prebiotic Emulsion is a lightweight, but heavy-duty product that acts as a daily moisturiser, a primer, and a weekly intensive treatment. It aims to act as a skin-recovery booster, with a high 14.5% concentration of 12 actives that work to restore the glow of tired, dehydrated, over-processed and post-procedure skin.
The actives in the brand’s signature prebiotic formula – bio-fermented kombucha, marine enzymes and natural prebiotics – work in harmony with the skin’s microflora (bacteria). The product taps into a growing consumer and brand focus on the skin microbiome, and keeping it in balance for optimal healthy skin. For more on this, see Bacteria Beauty and Biotransforming Beauty.
The intensive weekly treatment is applied with an accompanying silicone mask, which is unique in its reusability (sheet masks are typically thrown away, with few touting biodegradability). This tackles the issue of landfill waste and sustainability in an age when the Asian masking trend is increasingly shaping product use and purchasing in global markets. For more on masking, see The Sheet-Mask Revolution.
Tool rental in Stockholm has had a consumer-friendly makeover courtesy of home improvement company Don För Person, reflecting retail’s shift towards service-led concepts.
Don För Person roughly translates as “tools for people”. Graphic tool images on the store’s façade make a utilitarian service feel more like a hipster experience. It’s targeted at consumers who value access to service over ownership, with most young city dwellers lacking the necessary storage space and know-how.
Don För Person’s in-store experts act as consultants, coaching DIY-ers with tips for completing their projects. A team of handymen and handywomen can be hired for at-home support, which customers can book by the hour. In-depth blogs on the company’s website offer additional guidance.
This follows the ‘do-it-with-me’ approach of brands offering concierge services rooted in personalisation and collaboration, explored in our Spotlight Teport Redefining DIY.
Owners Lisa Torsson and Vilhelm Valentin opened their first location in Stockholm’s trendy Södermalm neighbourhood in 2017 and will open a second location in upscale Östermalm later in 2018.
Equipment ranges from hammers and electric screwdrivers to carpet cleaners and step ladders. Items are priced by the day, ranging from 11 kronor ($1.34) for a spackle knife to 1,098 kronor ($134) for a professional-grade floor sander. Experts help select the ideal tool, with customers encouraged to bring in photos to assist in the process.
Read The Work/Life Revolution for insights on flexi-living.
As we explored in Electrified Streetscapes, the electric vehicle (EV) market is booming. Inspired designers are reconsidering the look, function and status of charging systems to respond to new sustainable sensibilities and cash in on this transport revolution. We highlight two new EV chargers reframed as beautiful portable devices.
Read Transformative Transport in High-Octane Hubs for new developments in ride-hailing and autonomous vehicle services. For more on how EV chargers are infiltrating the automotive industry, look out for our upcoming report on the Geneva Motor Show 2018, publishing on March 22.
Engineers at the University of Maryland in the US have developed a technique that significantly increases the strength of wood – making it even stronger than many titanium alloys. The resulting natural material could be used to replace steel in projects such as cars, aeroplanes and buildings.
The process involves removing the wood’s lignin – the organic polymer that makes wood rigid – and compressing the leftover material under a mild heat, causing the cellulose fibres to become tightly compact. As a result, the wood fibres form strong hydrogen bonds, which increases its strength while making it thinner and lighter than its original form.
The team believe this method could lead to the production of lightweight, high-performance structural materials made out of various species of wood. “Soft woods like pine or balsa, which grow fast and are more environmentally friendly, could replace slower-growing but denser woods like teak in furniture or buildings,” said research leader Liangbing Hu.
With increasing concerns over diminishing resources and ecological footprints, innovative new approaches to existing natural materials are more important than ever, especially for large-scale applications such as in the construction industry.
See CMF Industry View: Architecture & Spaces and Carbon-Negative Building Material Made of CO2 for more eco-conscious building materials. For more on engineered wood and other materials addressing the need for strength and durability, see Super Materials: New Innovations.
San Francisco-based transport company Uber has launched a new service called Uber Health to help healthcare organisations supply transport for their patients.
Introduced on March 1, the Uber Health dashboard allows healthcare professionals to schedule rides for their patients on demand or up to a month ahead of time. Multiple rides can be booked at the same time and are paid for by the healthcare facilities.
What's special about the platform is that patients don't need a smartphone to use the service, as they are informed about their trip through text messages. This is an important feature as many older patients do not own smartphones, and if they do, they are often not confident using apps. In the future, Uber plans to introduce the option to be notified via a call to a mobile phone or landline instead, for those who don't own a mobile or have visual impairments.
The company has partnered with over 100 healthcare organisations in the US and the programme is accessible 24 hours a day, wherever Uber is available in the country.
With global healthcare spending projected to reach $8.7tn by 2020 (Deloitte, 2018), it's no wonder Uber wants to be part of this industry. According to 2017 research, Uber has already disrupted medical transportation, with ambulance usage in US cities having decreased by 7% since the introduction of Uber. With Uber Health, this disruption is set to continue.
For more on the future of mobility and inclusive transport, see High-Octane Hubs.
New scientific skincare brand Augustinus Bader’s unique regenerative formula capitalises on expert stem-cell technology that signals the future of anti-ageing beauty. The compact product range comprises just two creams with multifunctional properties – shrewdly tapping into the growing streamlined beauty trend.
An expert in regenerative medicine and tissue engineering, German professor Augustinus Bader is known for using stem cells to medically treat burn victims. With the launch of his new eponymous brand, Bader is harnessing this healing technology (also known as Trigger Factor Complex 8) to offer consumers high-end skincare with expert anti-ageing benefits.
His unique formula triggers stem cells in the cream to repair and renew cells in the skin – reversing the signs of ageing. In an interview with UK-based beauty website Byrdie, Bader said: “This cream allows [the skin] to remodel differently. It’s like a toolbox allowing your cells to fix the problems.”
The product line consists of The Cream (for oily to normal skin) and The Rich Cream (for dry skin). Retailing at $265 each, the price point reflects the amino acid and vitamin-packed formulas’ ability to provide effective anti-ageing care and tackle a range of skin concerns –from pigmentation to fine lines – in one multifunctioning product.
For more on stem cells and the streamlined sell in the beauty category, see Future Beauty: New-Era Naturals, Future Beauty: Accelerated Anti-Ageing, 2018: Look Ahead – Beauty and Streamlined & Minimal: Fresh Beauty Directions.
The Tetra dishwasher uses half a gallon of water for one 10-minute cycle (compared to the usual six for the average machine), and is large enough to wash two full place settings including bowls, cups and plates.
To use the machine, water and detergent are added into a separate compartment, where it is heated using patented Ohmic Array Technology. Graphic electrodes and electronic controls 'excite' minerals in the water, causing it to heat up. The dirty water is collected in a lower compartment for draining. The Tetra can also be controlled by an accompanying smartphone app.
According to the brand, the lack of metal heating elements means the water in the machine is purer than in any conventional dishwasher – so the Tetra can therefore be used to sanitise baby products, clean fruit and even cook seafood.
This is the latest example of a space-saving kitchen gadget developed by appliance designers for consumers who lack the room for substantial equipment. For more on this, see our Kitchen of the Future Industry Trend.
Two telecommunications brands are exploring new ways of selling mobile tech – ranging from a focus on fun community-centred space to the provision of concierge services.
See also Tactics in Selling Tech.
Slovenia-based ski manufacturer Elan Skis has created the Smart Ski Concept, a system that evaluates skiing movements and helps improve technique – like a virtual skiing coach.
Sensor-enabled smart skis monitor the user's movements – including weight flex and balance distribution – and then communicate that data to a smartphone via Bluetooth. An accompanying app then analyses the user's ski dynamics and relays advice through an earpiece on how to improve. This transfer of information allows the smart skis to serve as a personal ski coach, letting the user evaluate their weaknesses and adjust their movements in real time.
Debuted at sporting goods trade fair ISPO 2018 in Munich in January, the Smart Ski Concept remains a prototype, and will continue to be developed and tested on Elan Skis products.
"As consumers are connected across every touchpoint of their daily lives, it's an advancement not only for Elan, but also for the ski industry to connect technology between the skier and their skis," said Melanja Šober, head of product management for Elan's winter division.
An increasing number of fitness devices are engaging users in conversation and delivering on-the-go recommendations. In addition, global revenue from smart audio hardware will more than triple over the next four years, rising to over $5.5bn by 2020 (Juniper Research, 2016).
To succeed in the fit-tech space, brands should develop workout-boosting hearables that deliver real-time voice feedback from a virtual coach, alongside accurate biometrics. For more, read CES 2017: Personal Electronics.
At the inaugural Esports Activate showcase in New York on March 6, panellists and presenters gathered to discuss the brands, technologies and tastemakers shaping the future of competitive video gaming. With global e-sports revenue expected to hit $905.6m in 2018 (Newzoo, 2017), the time is now for creative brands to move into this burgeoning market.
The social stigma surrounding female menstruation is evolving as progressive start-ups, brands and designers dare to confront social taboos. We examine the brands stepping in with body-positive marketing campaigns and sustainable solutions to capitalise on an enthusiastic market of women seeking new alternatives.
UK start-up Dame has created a reusable applicator tampon made from a self-cleaning antimicrobial material. Combining medical-grade materials that naturally sterilise the device, the applicator remains safe and hygienic after multiple uses. Featuring a smooth semi-gloss finish and shaped to suit the contours of the body, Dame is designed to be comfortable and easy to control.
Similarly, new UK femcare brand Callaly has created the Tampliner. Offering the functions of both a tampon and a panty liner, the Tampliner promises greater absorbency to give users better peace of mind. Co-founded by gynaecologist Dr Alex Hooi, Callaly is the culmination of years of working with, and listening to, the frustration of women who don’t feel adequately protected with existing product.
Also from the UK, graduate Kaye Toland developed Mcycle, a tampon delivery service concept that transforms tampons into compost. Mcycle proposes a system where organic tampons are delivered to subscribers by bicycle. After use, the tampon’s packaging can be used as a bin that is later collected and composted in non-food soil.
Read Breaking Taboos in Packaging Futures: Diversity and Beauty Inspired by Menstrual Cycles for examples of body-positive brands tackling the topic of female menstruation. Also see Tackling Taboos for more on the brave marketing campaigns winning over consumers.
Retail Week Live (March 7-8), an annual conference for retail executives staged in London, saw a fleet of European retail tech start-ups pitching to attract investor interest and industry exposure. We highlight our favourites.
Vivid shades of yellow are proving a popular colour choice for commercial interiors. Daringly applied to floors, walls and ceilings, the bold hue is transforming retail, work and public spaces into friendly and optimistic environments. We highlight the latest most inspiring examples.
As an unconventional choice for commercial interior spaces, variations of yellow in different tones, textures and finishes could be further explored for other eye-catching applications in architecture and interiors, or for different sectors such as packaging and product design.