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Published: 26 Jun 2017

Sustainable Cities: Bird Street – The Tech-Boosted High St.

Bird Street

A new partnership between UK business management consultants New West End Company and European/US pop-up specialists Appear Here is upping the transient retailing ante with the launch of Bird Street in London. The joint venture will see the conversion of a relatively quiet street nestled just behind the shopping mecca of Oxford Street into a technologically enhanced, sustainability-focused ‘intelligent’ shopping street.

Launching at the end of June 2017, it’s billed as a “sustainable retail and outdoor dining destination for the latest in technology, cutting-edge fashion [including wearable tech] and lifestyle”, and aims to present a vision of future retailing in the here and now.

Key ‘street-embedded’ technologies highlighting the sustainable mission already include British ‘clean tech’ experts Pavegen’s electricity-generating paving (which also provides key footfall data), and air-purifying paint by Italian manufacturer Airlite.

While all spaces have already been short-term leased in preparation for the launch (exactly which brands are involved will remain secret until its unveiling), the team are still actively looking for “interesting and innovative fashion brands” to join from late summer onwards. The project, which has been part funded by Transport for London, is currently scheduled to remain in place until end of 2017.

With Oxford Street attracting almost 200 million visitors per year, Bird Street provides a prime opportunity for brands looking to advertise their progressive credentials.

For more on brand-led sustainability, see Retail: The Eco-Ethical Upsell and Eco-Ethical, Sustainable. Also look out for our upcoming report Retail: Reshaping Sustainability, publishing in July.

For more on smart cities, see Engineered Intelligence.

Published: 23 Jun 2017

Chinese Retail Embraces Facial-Recognition Tech

Alibaba founder Jack Ma demonstrates facial recognition technology

Highlighting Chinese consumers’ desire for convenience and relatively relaxed approach to privacy, use of facial-recognition tech in China is booming – as noted by The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which named it one of its 10 breakthrough technologies for 2017.

  • Payments: Chinese e-tail giant Alibaba is working with Beijing-based start-up Face++ to enable people to transfer money through its payment app Alipay, using their face as identification. Since February 2017, it has also been experimenting with in-store facial-recognition payment tech in partnership with Chinese retailer Bailian Group (exact details still to be confirmed).
  • Predictive Ordering: KFC and Chinese search engine Baidu are trialling a service in Beijing where visitors’ faces are used to predict their orders, based on estimated age and mood. Customers can choose the machine’s suggestion (provided at the service counter), or pick again.
  • Access Only Designated Areas: Baidu is also using identity-confirming facial-recognition tech for visitors to the tourist destination of Wuzhen, eastern China. Photographs are taken at the entrance, with the facial recognition then allowing access to different areas depending on the price/type of ticket bought – a concept potentially transferrable to brands with layered or VIP areas (see also Membership & Tiered Retailing, particularly Runbase Berlin).

In other markets, however, consumers still find the technology unnerving. When asked about being identified as a high-value shopper in store via facial recognition, 67% of US consumers and 75% of UK consumers said they found it creepy (RichRelevance, 2016).

See also Cashless Transactions: Pay With Your Face and Retail Tech: Tools & Trends, 17/18

Published: 20 Jun 2017

Asos & Ikea Brand Incubators Tap Socially Conscious Talent

Creative collective Gal-dem, part of Asos Supports Talent

Responding to a cultural climate where it’s increasingly important for businesses to take a stance on social issues (see Brands Take a Stand), two major retailers have launched global talent incubators to bolster their ethical credentials.

  • Asos Supports Talent: UK fashion e-tailer Asos launched Asos Supports Talent in 2016 to fund and mentor emerging artists and entrepreneurs, nurturing otherwise unachievable projects. Notably, according to Rachel Bremer, head of communications at Asos, artists engaged in raising (often contentious) issues generate the most interest. Examples include Chicago-based Peruvian photographer Elizabeth De La Piedra, who documented the life of a trans woman of colour in California in 2016.  

    One of 2017’s freshly unveiled initiatives is Gal-dem – a magazine/collective of 70 UK-based women of colour. It used the funding to create an audio-visual poetry exhibition exploring what ‘home’ means to 10 women of colour in Britain. Allowing the artists to remain in control of their projects is key to establishing legitimacy with Asos’s audience, said Bremer: “Young people have little trust in government or other institutions, but they still have trust in brands.” Not yet commercialised, Asos measures the success of projects based on social impressions and commentary.
  • Ikea Bootcamp: Launched in June 2017, Ikea Bootcamp gives 10 start-ups focused on “creating affordable products with a positive impact on society” €20,000 ($22,315) plus three months’ access to Ikea’s prototype shop, test lab and experts. The areas of innovation it’s seeking to support include food, disruptive technologies, customer experience, sustainability and manufacturing.

See also Feminism-Fuelled Retail and Topshop & Asos: Tech Accelerators.  

Published: 19 Jun 2017

Zalando Tests Geo-Aided Deliveries


As part of its wider mission to achieve ‘radical agility’ as a business (as first described in our coverage of Wired Retail 2015), German e-tailer Zalando has begun testing geolocation-tech-assisted deliveries in Belgium.

The concept, created in collaboration with Belgian delivery innovator Parcify, targets consumers that don’t want to have their purchases delivered to either their homes or their workplaces. In addition to giving shoppers an unparalleled level of flexibility, it also counters one of the most common frustrations with online shopping: missed deliveries.

The new service, available every day from 7am to midnight, will give cycle couriers direct visibility on where a customer is, thanks to a smartphone-enabled GPS tracking device. All consumers will need to do is download the Parcify app and enter their location along with GPS and Zalando references. Push notifications will be sent when the courier is close to arriving.

The beta tests, which are free for consumers, are being carried out until the end of June 2017 in the Belgian cities of Brussels, Ghent and Antwerp. They currently allow customers to receive parcels in any location, including coffee shops – no doubt music to the ears of an increasingly nomadic workforce (see also Commuter Commerce).

For more on delivery innovations, see Convenience Retail: Curbside Delivery and Retail: Delivery Innovations Update (Spring 2016).

For more on the booming value of brand initiatives based on flexibility, look out for Reflexive Retail: Live & On-Demand – publishing on September 27 as part of our upcoming Liquid Retail Industry Trend. 

Published: 16 Jun 2017

Immersive Nike X Tom Sachs Promo Makes Fans Earn Sneakers


Countering the prevailing notion that good brand experiences are always seamless, convenient and friendly, Nike’s latest footwear launch promo boasts a distinctly challenging edge.   

Called NikeCraft Mars Yard 2.0 (a homage to Nasa’s Mars explorations and the extraordinary kit that went with them), the new trainer reunites Nike and American artist Tom Sachs, reprising the duo’s original 2012 launch of the shoe. Pushing to make it as covetable as it was initially, anyone wanting to buy it must literally work (out) for it.

Interested parties sign up for Tom Sachs’ Space Camp – a bootcamp-style brand experience currently on Governors Island, NY – the crux of which is a workout series including a deadlift course, a knot-tying challenge, push/chin ups, ab wheel rollouts and a balance-beam walk, culminating in jumping onto the roof of a pick-up truck. The toughness of the tasks all but ensures failure – a conscious decision to reveal participants’ coping mechanisms and thus the inherent link between physical and mental strength. Emphasising the hardcore endurance aspect of the experience, the space is littered with surly-looking Nike trainers.

The concept was apparently inspired by the paces Sachs puts his own studio team through tri-weekly to build mental endurance and agility.

Course finishers get the opportunity to buy the trainers for $200. Later, there will also be a chance to buy them online by undertaking “five tests of digital dexterity” – details to be confirmed.

For more on retail with a deferential edge, see Renegade Retail – part of our Currency of Dissent Macro Trend. See also Nike’s Immersive Workout Experience.

Published: 14 Jun 2017

Biophilia-Boosted Store Designs

Apple San Francisco

Humanising the store experience with plant life may seem simplistic, but in an increasingly urbanised world – 54.5% of the global population were living in cities in 2016, a figure projected to rise to 60% by 2030 (UN, 2016) – it’s a practice that’s being used to progressively compelling effect. Offering not only a softening influence but also a sense of transition, we spotlight four brands recently deploying it with success.  

Asics – Telegraphing Holistic Wellbeing: To communicate its wider ethos of merging sport, wellbeing and science, in May 2017, Japanese athletics brand Asics collaborated with UK-based living walls specialists and landscapers Scotscape. The company installed bespoke suspended ceiling planters and living walls in the brand’s global headquarters (Kobe, Japan) and in its Brussels and Amsterdam stores. The concept centred around a semi-hydroponic planter system with automated irrigation, which floated serenely above the store, creating a living canopy. See also The Supportive Sell in our Business of Wellbeing Macro Trend.

Seat – Nature Creates a Sense of Transition: Spanish carmaker Seat’s debut store in Intu Lakeside shopping centre in the UK takes cues from Seat’s native Barcelona – including trees, bird sounds and lighting inspired by dappled sunlight – to create a sense of transition from the frenetic mall environment. Mike Roberts, chief creative officer at British agency Green Room Retail, which designed the store, described the commercial rationale: “Feeling relaxed increases 56.1% in natural surroundings, automatically equating to more dwell time, and a 1% increase in positive dwell time equates to 1.3% increase in spend.”

Asics HQ
Asics Amsterdam
Seat Intu Lakeside

Story – Bioorganic Flagged as Major Retail Theme: As of June 2017, rotating New York retail concept Story – which creates a new theme every six weeks – introduced its latest guise, Fresh, which focuses on a bioorganic offering. Developed in partnership with US e-delivery service, the 2,000 sq ft store features an assortment of fresh vegetables (provided by Jet) and innovative eco-friendly products such as Click & Grow – an indoor self-watering home garden. Further emphasising the theme, an abundance of plants and artificial grass flooring are arranged throughout the store, which will also host events such as cooking workshops, skincare courses and discussion panels concerned with promoting organic approaches to urban living.

Apple – Big Business’s Back Garden: In May 2016, Apple used the launch of its San Francisco flagship to reveal its slowly evolving store blueprint. The subtly humanised, less corporate revision of its clinical-looking standard store formats feature interiors of stainless steel and glass with wood, trees and plenty of natural light. Echoed externally, the design’s key feature is The Plaza – a 24/7 outdoor ‘back yard’ area including a 50-ft living wall that serves as a backdrop for live weekly music performances and talks. It was designed by British architects Foster & Partners.

For more on how hospitality and home appliance-orientated brands are leveraging nature, see Wild Wanderers in Travel for the Agile Elite and Self-Sustaining Spaces, part of our Kitchen of the Future Industry Trend.

Also check out Nature Embracers for more on the blossoming consumer appetite for horticultural pursuits as an antidote to city-induced stress.

Story 'Fresh'
Click & Grow
Apple San Francisco
Apple San Francisco
Apple San Francisco
Published: 12 Jun 2017

Retailers Invest in Branded Education to Source Talent

YNAP x Bocconi

Smart brands are filling their own skills gaps by turning ‘edu-enabler’ – establishing higher education courses to meet their specific needs, and giving students a less costly, more vocational and perk-filled path to success than traditional programmes.

Here, we review a rising wave of ‘branded universities’ nurturing retail’s future workforce.

  • Zalando – Cultivating Sector-Specific Talent: German fashion e-tailer Zalando has collaborated with ISM (International School of Management) – one of the best private business schools in the country – on an E-commerce Logistics bachelor’s programme. During the three-year course, students benefit from alternating theoretical seminars at the school, and practical three-month work periods within Zalando – a ‘yo-yo’ format that aims to encourage the application of academic knowledge in the work environment.

    Courses cover logistics and transport management, sourcing and supply-chain administration, finance control and economics, as well as foreign languages. There is also a compulsory semester abroad. Zalando pays the tuition fee of €27,438 ($30,888) as well as travel costs, and also offers perks such as discounts on products (40%) and canteen lunches (50%). The first course starts in October 2017, with Zalando aiming to hire talented graduates in entry-level roles.
Zalando x ISM
Zalando x ISM
Zalando x ISM
  • Dyson – Nurturing Next-Gen Tech Engineers: British electronics brand Dyson has partnered with research-focused Warwick University in Coventry, UK on a four-year bachelor’s degree in engineering.

    The Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology will be located at the company’s Wiltshire headquarters, and was devised to help the technology firm double its engineering workforce to 6,000 by 2020 – filling a predicted skills shortage. Students will not pay any fees; instead, they’ll be given a competitive salary (increasing each year), benefit from a staff bonus and discount scheme, and gain hands-on experience by working alongside engineers on upcoming products in Dyson’s research and development department.

    Academic training is provided by the University of Warwick on-site. Dyson will retain those graduates who continue to meet post-grad grade levels as well as key performance objectives on the job. The first 25 students will start in September 2017.
Dyson University
Dyson University
  • Yoox Net-A-Porter – Luxury Academia Feeds Digital Skills Gap: Combating Italy’s shortfall in digital e-commerce talent, Italian luxury fashion group Yoox Net-A-Porter (YNAP) has joined forces with two of the country’s most prestigious business schools: SDA Bocconi, which focuses on research and post-experience education, and Bologna Business School.

    In January 2017, it announced a partnership with SDA Bocconi on a new Digital Strategy, Marketing and E-commerce course, which is set to form part of the 2017 edition of the Master in Fashion, Experience and Design Management (MAFED) programme. Students will learn both the strategic aspect of managing a fashion business, as well as the fundamentals of digital marketing, smart data, e-commerce and customer experience.

    YNAP managers give lectures and present case studies. Establishing the reality of the job, the luxury retailer will task a group of students with a consultancy project, with the results being presented directly to the company. Several MAFED students will be invited to enrol in the YNAP internship programme after graduating.

    Its collaboration with Bologna Business School has forged the European Centre of Managerial Education – dedicated to cultivating professional web analysts, web-marketing specialists, big-data specialists, e-commerce managers and online store managers. The course will also provide training and lectures from SDA Bocconi, plus guest steerage from digital innovation heavyweights including Boston Consulting Group, Google, GroupM (the world’s largest media investment group), IBM and advertising/PR giant WPP.

For more on this topic – specifically how brands are catering to consumers’ increasing desire for professional optimisation – see The Luxury Academia Playbook in Re-Engineering Exclusivity, Apple San Fran: Glocal Edutainment, The Future of Learning, Impatient Upskillers and Topshop Turns Educator.

YNAP x Bocconi
YNAP x Bologna Business School
Published: 9 Jun 2017

Olivela: Philanthropic Luxury E-Comm


Wholeheartedly embracing the rising consumer desire for brand initiatives with an ethical grounding is new luxury-focused multi-brand fashion e-commerce site, Olivela.

Launched on June 6, the business sells approximately 200 new and “just past season” items from high-profile international brands including Givenchy, Stella McCartney and Valentino. Its core USP is activism: it donates a portion of each sale to a non-profit organisation.

Organisations already lined up to benefit include American author and philanthropist Jessica Seinfeld’s Good+ Foundation, which provides basic items for impoverished US families; Pakistani human-rights activist Malala Yousafzai’s Malala Fund, which seeks to secure educational rights for girls; and the VH1 Save the Music Foundation – a US initiative devoted to bringing music programmes into American schools.

Notably, at the core of Olivela’s engagement strategy is an emphasis on transparency, with consumers able to access a personal dashboard that tracks exactly what the donation from their purchase constitutes in charitable terms. For instance, a pair of $835 Aquazzura sandals will provide 41 days of children’s essentials through the Good+ Foundation. The dashboard tool, echoing those used by sports brands such as US label Under Armour (as detailed in The Supportive Sell), is key to establishing a sense of trust and personal involvement.

For more on transparency in retail, see Everlane’s Transparency Tours, Positive Provenance and Revealing the Journey.

For more on how ethical enterprises are fuelling a wave of ‘conscious consumption’, see Doing Good, Social Responsibility Trends, Retail: The Eco-Ethical Upsell and Activist Attitudes

Published: 7 Jun 2017

Dept. Stores Unveil Ultimate Wellness Venues

Harrods Wellness Clinic

Two high-profile department stores have launched brand new wellness destinations designed to mainline the booming consumer appetite for all things wellbeing.  

Saks, The Wellery: Saks has created an expansive, long-term wellness pop-up in its Fifth Avenue flagship in New York – a 16,000 sq ft space occupying the entire second floor. Signposting the varying aspects of wellness, it’s divided into 22 separate sections straddling athleisure, fitness and beauty. It will offer new programmes such as ConBody – a workout plan improbably based on the founder's own experience of reconditioning his body while in prison – and ‘alternative' services including reiki and massage, in the Saks Studio.

Wellness Clinic, Harrods: Shifting up a gear from its existing Urban Retreat spa (a more conventional space focused on ‘maintenance’ services such as blow-drying and nail treatments), Harrods’ London store has unveiled a state-of-the-art wellbeing clinic grounded in the notion of transformation. Partnering with high-profile global guest practitioners, the fourth-floor, 10,500 sq ft space includes 14 luxury treatment rooms, two personal training studios and a cryotherapy chamber, which uses extremely low temperatures to treat skin tissue damage. Additionally, a skin-analysis room helps potential cosmetic surgery patients assess possible procedures.

Other services include bespoke nutrition planning, sleep-pattern tracking, DNA-based skincare testing, chiropractic, acupuncture and posture therapies, plus intravenous vitamin infusions administered by UK vitamin drip specialist The Elixir Clinic. There’s also a retail space.

For more on the value of tapping into the desire to self-optimise, see also Re-Engineering Exclusivity, Medi-Leisure: Modernising the Pharmacy and The Supportive Sell in our Macro Trend, The Business of Wellbeing.

Published: 6 Jun 2017

Topshop’s VR Water Slide Taps Trend for In-Store Immersion

Topshop splash

UK fast-fashion giant Topshop unleashed a summer-centric virtual reality (VR) initiative at its London flagship last week. The move tapped into the trend for more immersive and sensorially engaging in-store experiences – a direct legacy of the rising experiential economy (see Active Flagships).

Topshop Splash was created with British digital agency Fat Unicorn and UK architects Your Studio. It followed a 2014 project with British technologists Inition, which transported visitors to the front row of its Unique catwalk show.

This time around, the store windows became a pool scene featuring a water slide.

Visitors sat on an inflatable at the slide entrance, donning an Oculus Rift headset to experience a twisting and turning CGI journey through London’s streets. Other sensory elements, such as the holiday-evoking scent of sun cream, deepened the immersion – and the connection to Topshop’s summer collections.

Ostensibly a soft-sell exercise – the VR visuals didn’t display product, nor any mode of linking back to e-commerce – Topshop capitalised on the brand buzz in store with additional waterslide props, micro pop-ups, an ice-cream stall and summer-themed hair and nail bars.

Translating that excitement to social media, for one Saturday only, it released a bespoke Snapchat lens featuring an aquatic-themed world, prompting its digital fans to migrate in-store – only those using the slide could access it. See Social Media to Store for more on connecting the behemoth of social media to in-store experiences – teens’ two favourite brand spaces.

For the definitive guide to retail’s VR-fuelled future, see Retail’s VR Future: Communal, Sensorial Digital, publishing on June 15. 

Published: 2 Jun 2017

Improving DIY Retail: B&Q’s New Digital Strategy

B&Q is hoping to make its digital services, such as its kitchen design tool B&Q Spaces, more immersive and inspirational

In a bid to beef up its digital engagement, British DIY retail chain B&Q is focusing on browser-based geo-location, virtual reality experiences and in-aisle payments. It follows disappointing trials of in-store kiosks – which shoppers tended to use only when aided by staff – and a consumer-facing mobile app focused on in-store connections, underused because most B&Q shoppers visit the store infrequently.

Context-Aware Mobile Deals with Simpler Questions

While 81% of people use their phone in-store, B&Q discovered they’re more likely to use the mobile site than the app. It’s introducing geo-location technology to the site to help people find products via a store map sensitive to the shopper’s location. The aim is to free up staff, allowing them to assist on bigger, more expertise-necessitating projects.

Kirsten Taylor, B&Q’s head of digital experience said: “Customers ask a lot of questions in store, most often about locating products. We’re aiming to remove the simple questions by using these devices.”

The retailer has also rolled out an ‘assisted selling’ tool for staff, allowing access to in-depth product information. Next up is a new point-of-sale system enabling customers to pay in-aisle for products on a store tablet.

Hyper-Reality Store Inspiration

Echoing the ‘hyper reality’ of the tech-fuelled concepts described in Lowe’s Haptic-VR DIY Skills Clinic and US Homeware Brands Embrace AR/VR, B&Q is also developing more robust inspiration-based store sections to enhance more emotional, big-ticket purchases such as new kitchens or bathrooms.

For more on the future of DIY retailing, see Redefining DIY: Part 1 & Part 2.

Published: 1 Jun 2017

24 Sèvres: LVMH Embraces Frenemy-Inflected E-Tailing


Operating loosely on the ‘frenemy’ associations described in Renegade Retail – where competitor brands buddy up for mutual benefit – luxury brand powerhouse LVMH is launching a multi-brand e-commerce platform called 24 Sèvres. The platform hopes to satisfy the appetites of increasingly brand-disloyal consumers, since it includes brands that sit outside the LVMH portfolio.

24Sè will go live in mid-June, with LVMH’s new chief digital officer, Ian Rogers – formerly of Apple – at the helm.

End of Luxury Segregation

The new site is in fact a platform for the LVMH-owned department store Le Bon Marché. Nevertheless, it’s the first time the brand has allowed its undeniably segregated brands (Dior and Louis Vuitton, to name a few) to share retail space, let alone allow non-proprietary labels to the table. Of the 150 brands in total, approximately 30 will be LVMH-owned.

With its name taking inspiration from the store’s Paris address, 24 Sèvres will initially focus on womenswear. At the launch, there will be exclusives pieces from 68 of the labels on offer.

Image-Led Engagement Tools

In a bid to differentiate itself from the myriad of content-led competitors such as, Net-A-Porter, and, 24 Sèvres will set itself apart by using cutting-edge moving-image initiatives. From fashion film to visual merchandising tools – such as instantaneous styling-consultation videos – the platform is taking a bold step towards a more visual mode of consumption.

For more on the power of ‘live commerce’, see the Relationship-Led, Humanised Tech section in our coverage of Decoded Fashion London’s Summit, 2017.

See also Digitising Luxury

Published: 30 May 2017

Concept Boutiques & New-Gen Dept Stores, Russia

Au Pont Rouge

Embracing an influx of travellers, especially from China (760,000 visited in 2016, up 44% since 2015 – Euromonitor, 2017), shrewd Russian retailers are investing in more conceptually exciting store designs.

While championing both local and international talent is key, representing Russia as a hotbed of fresh talent attuned to a new, modern attitude is high on the agenda. We spotlight some of the most significant examples.

  • Indie Department Store Champions New Talent: Opened late 2016, 4,000 sq m department store Trend Island Moscow acts as a creative hub melding local Moscovite culture and Russian zeitgeist with international design. Located within Moscow shopping centre Avia Park, it houses 30 local and international brands straddling fashion, cosmetics and homeware and revolves around three key pillars: fashion, gastronomy and entertainment.

    Operating with an innovative and relatively low-risk business model to attract fresh design talent (and Moscow’s creative clientele), fashion designers don’t pay rent for concession spaces, and Trend Island doesn’t buy any products. Instead, the department store simply takes a commission on sales. Furthering its commitment to young blood, the space also houses a café and a ‘lectorium’ hosting talks and exhibitions. Design-wise, the store resembles a typical Russian cityscape, with sidewalks, street signs, benches and green trees adorning the space.
  • Platform for Art & Fashion Conceived to Shift The Status Quo: Premium Moscow department store Tsvetnoy Central Market also seeks to represent the modern Russian spirit with the launch of its independent talent platform ArtBasement. Conceived to pioneer emerging contemporary artists and fashion designers, it holds an in-house art gallery, cinema and event space, and hosts exhibitions, film screenings and art performances/projects.

    Carrying that art-led perspective into the store’s visual merchandising, Tsvetnoy Central Market has also initiated a bi-annual collaboration with artists to overhaul all in-store visual communications and merchandising, echoing Dover Street Market’s famous transformational Tachiagari format. Mixing price points to emphasise attitude over cost – a practice that goes against the grain of Russia’s usual price-focused segmentation (the higher the price, the greater the status) – all products are showcased in bespoke, mixed-brand environments.

See also Lifestyle Labs: Rethinking Categorisation in Rise of the Exploratorium.

Trend Island Moscow
Trend Island Moscow
Trend Island Moscow
Tsvetnoy Central Market
Tsvetnoy Central Market
Tsvetnoy Central Market
Tsvetnoy Central Market
Dover Street Market
  • Eclectic Wonderland: Established in 1907, St. Petersburg’s Au Pont Rouge the world’s oldest department store – reopened just over a year ago with a bold new store design by US architect Rafael de Cardenas and British interior designer Christopher Jenner. A stereotypically lavish ambience rules the first floor of international fashion boutiques, designed by Jenner – who is renowned for his capacity to amplify heritage (see Monetising Heritage).

    The entire second floor houses a Japanese, neo-minimalist-style white space and flagship concession of hugely popular eco-ethical beauty chain Cosmotheca. It has curated rare cosmetic, beauty and fragrance brands united by ethical attributes such as environmentally friendly production or high-level corporate social responsibility under the zones ‘niche cosmetics’, ‘beauty’ and ‘personal shopping’. It’s now so successful that it comes with a fully automated robotic customer service system, developed by Hong Kong design studio Cheungvogl Design. Shoppers add to a virtual basket by scanning items with the store’s mobile app. Upon purchase, the order is forwarded to the point of sale. See also Rapid Custom Retail.

    The third and fourth floors, designed by Cardenas, boast a more futuristic, eclectic design comprised of coloured glass, metal and mirrors and a flexible layout to accommodate seasonal pop-ups and special events. Described as a ‘Wonderland’, it’s dedicated to showcasing young local designers and independent shops (both local and international), targeting international shoppers hungry for new talent.
Au Pont Rouge
Wonderland Au Pont Rouge
Wonderland Au Pont Rouge
  • South Korea Spotlight: Homing in on the rising Asian interest in Russia, as well as growing Russian interest in the global Korean beauty/ fashion boom, in November 2016, Chinese department store Lotte introduced a new concept shop-floor called ‘K Avenue’. Located on the third floor of Moscow’s Lotte Plaza shopping mall, it solely presents premium fashion designers and beauty brands from South Korea.

See also Next-Level Department Store Strategies.

Published: 25 May 2017

Decoded Fashion, London 2017: Start-Ups to Watch


A hotbed of innovation merging fashion, retail and technology, Decoded Fashion’s London Summit welcomed a vast number of start-ups, all stating their cause. We spotlight our top four. 

  • BrandHeroes: Making Micro-Influencers Work – Local Heroes Drive Engagement: Channelling the growing smarts of using micro-influencers instead of social media superstars (see Marketing with Micro-Influencers and Tiered Luxe & Micro-Influencers in Re-Engineering Exclusivity), Danish agency BrandHeroes specialises in matching brands with small-scale, local influencers.

    Pulling data from Instagram, BrandHeroes acts as mediator – identifying influencers that match brand-desired criteria on age, audience and locality to become brand ambassadors. Relevance is measured in terms of local followers, average engagement, credibility (BrandHeroes’ staff act as the arbiters of taste) and quality of follower relationships (the extent to which they interact with individual posts).

    Ambassadors create content matching set brand guidelines; brands monitor activities via a bespoke dashboard. Influencer-generated content can also be exported by the brand and used on any of their marketing channels. Influencers aren’t paid – instead, they’re rewarded with products and the promise of an elevated profile.

    The agency is currently working with 14,000 influencers in 140 cities and brands including Red Bull, Danish fashion retailer Bestseller and car manufacturer Mini
  • To The Tens: Shoppable Social Community: Akin to our previously highlighted social commerce apps Villoid and Project September, LA-based social commerce app To The Tens enables fashion aficionados to take photos of, share and shop fashion looks – receiving a commission in the form of points for any products they hyperlink.

    Like Instagram, users follow other users (including brands and influencers) and have a personalised feed. They shop straight from pictures by simply tapping an item, and check out in-app. To make their images shoppable and receive their commission – which can either be cashed as real money or put towards a purchase like a credit note – users add hyperlinks to products within their images by connecting to the relevant brand’s inventory (assuming that brand is affiliated with the app). Retaining key levels of control, brands can also review, accept and verify posts – linked items only appear below users’ posts after a successful review. Brands themselves can also upload hyperlinked ad campaigns.

    Equipped with a dashboard, brands monitor what content users are generating, resulting in a library filled with marketing-ready imagery. The app is free to all; To The Tens takes 16% commission on all sales. See also Monetising Social Media, 2016.
  • BuyAPowa: Word-Of-Mouth 2.0: British referral platform BuyAPowa is a ‘plug & play’ solution that retailers can use to reward customers who refer them to others by sharing unique links. The solution embeds seamlessly into existing retail systems, with brands choosing from discounts (as offered by beauty e-tailer FeelUnique) or ‘added value’ concepts such as goodie bags or access to events (as preferred by beauty boutique SpaceNK).

    Like predictive text for social media, BuyAPowa’s solution automatically recognises whatever device or social platform and adjusts accordingly. Once the system establishes that the link has gone to a new customer, recipients are redirected to a BuyAPowa-powered branded referral area within the brand’s website.

    Brands are equipped with a dashboard to monitor and identify key advocates and analyse referral motivation – delivering insights into the types of rewards corresponding with the greatest number of referrals. According to BuyAPowa, the conversion rate of a referred friend is 7.7% higher than the average online conversion rate of 0.5%. 
  • Pictofit: Mobile Virtual Fitting Room: Austrian augmented reality start-up Pictofit’s smart fitting-room app enables customers to virtually trial clothes via their mobiles. It transforms imagery within the app’s ecosystem (look books, advertising images and web-shop imagery from partner retailers, such as Zara) into overlays that can be tried on a bespoke avatar of the user by swiping right. Users upload a picture of themselves or choose from similar-looking avatars. See also Gap x Google Tango Dressing Room and A/W 17/18 Catwalk Comms
Published: 24 May 2017

Coke Uses Smartphone Data to Personalise Supermarket Signage

Coca Cola

FMCG brands have long been deciphering how best to connect with consumers as their shopping behaviour changes. Working with Google, Coca-Cola has begun using browsing-history data on consumers’ smartphones to serve them real-time, personalised ads on digital supermarket signage.

The screens, owned by Coke, are placed at the end of the soft drinks aisle and can communicate with a shopper’s smartphone. They can access a phone’s IP address – which suggests a consumer’s location – as well as browsing data from Google’s DoubleClick ad-serving software. This provides the consumer’s approximate age and gender, and current shopping preoccupations.

The data determines the most relevant ad to show, subsequently displaying it on the digital screens as the consumer approaches. For instance, if a shopper is interested in health and fitness, the screens might show an ad for sparkling water or diet tonic instead of sugary soft drinks.

Coca-Cola has already reported that a 250-store US pilot with grocery chain Albertsons delivered a one-month return on investment (the outlay involved in the supermarket purchasing the screens to facilitate the programme). It’s seen an increase in sales of both Coca-Cola and other soft drinks, although specific figures haven’t yet been disclosed.

Notably, part of the concept’s apparent early success is likely to lie in its relatively non-invasive semi-subliminal nature, with the data not pulled from app information – only browsing history.