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Published: 21 Mar 2018

Retail’s Sharing Economy: Swedish Shop Rents DIY Tools

Don För Person

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.

For more on service-led concepts, see Brand Spaces: 2018/19 and Membership & Tiered Retailing. See also Improving DIY Retail: B&Q’s New Digital Strategy for next-gen DIY strategies.

Read The Work/Life Revolution for insights on flexi-living.

Published: 21 Mar 2018

New Chargers Cash In on Electric Vehicles

Clockwise L-R: Bentley x Philippe Starck, Yeop Baek

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.

  • Conceived by French designer Philippe Starck for Bentley, the Bentayga EV power dock is intended as a luxury accessory for the British automaker’s new hybrid electric SUV of the same name.

    Fashioned from cast aluminium and sustainable materials such as pressed eco-linen, the device emulates the high-end quality of a luxury car while responding to environmental concerns. By offering a design-led power dock, Bentley hopes to encourage its clients to buy electric.
  • Korean designer Yeop Baek has also explored the innovative potential of EV chargers with his Volt drone concept. Envisaging an app-enabled service where users can request and pay for EV charging, the quadcopter features a charging dock centred within four propellers, allowing it to move above ground and be controlled remotely.

    The Volt charging drone geo-locates the user via their mobile phone to travel to their exact location, enabling EV charging in remote areas. 

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.

Published: 20 Mar 2018

Uber Health: Rides for Patients

Uber Health

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.

Published: 19 Mar 2018

Compact Kitchen-Top Dishwasher


UK water-heating company Heatworks has collaborated with London studio Frog Design to develop a compact countertop dishwasher that operates without the need for plumbing or electric heating elements.

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.

See also LED Food-Storage System, Ultrasonic Tea-Making Machine and Self-Heating Ceramic Cup for further recent examples of innovation in the connected-kitchen realm.

Published: 19 Mar 2018

From Vegas to Shanghai: Modern Telecom Stores Entertain


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.

  • City Concierge: German wireless provider T-Mobile has opened a new concept store in Las Vegas. The 9,000 sq ft two-storey nightclub-themed space has a glittering façade and an interior full of T-Mobile’s signature magenta tones and bold graphics. Besides showcasing the latest tech gadgets, it features 25 complimentary mobile-charging stations and a concierge desk with trouble-shooting services. Consumers can also book tickets for the nearby T-Mobile Arena. Upstairs, visitors can test virtual reality headsets and grab a drink from a juice bar. It was designed by global design firm Fitch.
  • Hang-Out Space for Selfie Nerds: Chinese consumer electronic company Oppo has opened a flagship store in Shanghai perfect for its selfie-obsessed young customers. Oppo is a favourite with selfie lovers, having introduced the world’s first 120° wide-angle front camera for group portraits.

    Five giant charcoal-coloured pebble-shaped benches dominate the minimalistic space, encouraging consumers (mostly millennials and Gen Z) to linger and enjoy in-store events. They also double as photo-taking locations. Six light-emitting columns provide naturalistic light, while a mirrored ceiling adds special effects. Phones are displayed in a futuristic manner – propped upright, as if floating, in hidden slits on a wooden table. A giant, neon green mesh-wire whale hanging from the ceiling provides a whimsical touch and a great photo opportunity. The store was designed by Chinese designer Zhang Xing.

See also Tactics in Selling Tech.

Published: 19 Mar 2018

Elan Skis’ Virtual Skiing Coach

Elan Skis' Smart Ski Concept

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.

Published: 16 Mar 2018

The Future of Gaming: Esports Activate 2018

IEM San Jose 2014

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.

  • Community Cornerstones: Video games have a reputation as a solitary activity, but panellists emphasised the importance of in-person social events for fostering connections among gamers. "Real-life events take the e-sports world from high tech to high touch," said Sarah DaVanzo, vice-president of consumer and market insight at L'Oreal.

    Emily Sun, co-founder of Boston-based female gaming collective Smash Sisters, argued that women are especially drawn to in-person competitions. These events provide a place to bond over a shared interest, away from the frequently toxic anti-female environments that arise in digital gaming communities.

    Brands can use e-sports events to organically engage with the expanding community. Coca-Cola sponsored US-wide screenings of the 2018 world championships for fantasy game Smite, while German car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz brings a fleet of cars to competitions for gamers to test drive. Competitive gaming company OpTic Gaming has also ventured into e-sports tailgate parties. Whereas traditional tailgating parties at American football games bring team communities together to share beer and burgers, e-sports tailgating combines barbecues with game-specific activations, such as cosplay competitions.
Smash Sisters
  • Authentic Activations: "E-sports participants don't like logo slaps but they do like brands that authentically engage. They're jaded about traditional advertising, but they're passionate about good content," said Todd Harris, chief operating officer at game developer Hi-Rez Studios.

    While 80% of e-sports viewers use ad blockers, 85% appreciate when brands reach out through gaming and 58% are looking to try new brands (Newzoo, 2017). "Lifestyle brands generally integrate better into the e-sports space because e-sports are a lifestyle themselves," argued Guy Costantini, vice-president of global interactive marketing for gaming company Skydance Media. For instance, OpTic Gaming's president Ryan Musselman highlighted an activation for fast-food chain Chipotle that showed a team of pro gamers fuelling their performance with the brand's food.
Clancy Tech
Intel sponsors e-sports
  • Social-Savvy Spectators: E-sports fans are heavy users of social media, which they use to stream games and interact with fellow gamers. Fifty-seven per cent converse on Facebook, 42% on Twitter and 22% on Reddit, in addition to the chat sidebars that pop up in-game (Nielsen, 2017).

    These social habits inform game design. Costantini explained: "We're starting to design games to not just be played competitively, but also to be watched. The viewers want something similar to what sports viewers want – [gaming] can be a social experience for people."
  • Traditional Dynamics for New Audiences: With over 50 US universities offering e-sports scholarships and prize money pools growing across leagues and tournaments, professional gaming is quickly developing a culture akin to that of traditional athletes. Companies like OpTic have hired coaches to boost player ability and have developed a nutrition and exercise programme to ensure players are at the peak of their performance. According to Imari Oliver, chief executive of New York-based technology strategy company Bond & Play, "these people are professionals, playing 14 to 15 hours a day. They are doing something not everyone can do."

    Vitally, panellists said e-sports give legacy sports brands like the NBA and NFL access to an audience that's distinct from existing sports viewers, as well as being younger and more affluent, with the potential for long and lucrative relationships.

For more on gaming's growth factors, see State of Media: The Fan-First Revolution and our regular Pop Culture Round-Ups.

UC Irvine gaming
Published: 16 Mar 2018

Retail Week Live 2018: Top European Start-Ups

Go InStore

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. 

  • Paper Planes – Hyper-Personalisation Drives Engagement: British personalisation tech start-up Paper Planes digitises leaflet advertising and helps brands individualise abandoned basket follow-ups. Plug-and-play online cookie software monitors consumers’ online browsing behaviour and detects when they abandon an online cart. This triggers an automated creation of a personalised print leaflet that displays a visual reminder of the products in the basket, alongside goods from the individual’s ‘most browsed’ product categories. Printed the same day, consumers receive the physical ‘nudge’ within three working days. The company is currently working with British fashion brand JD Williams, which has experienced a 14% basket recovery uplift since introducing the feature. See also Personalised E-Tail.
  • Go-Instore – Live-Broadcast Advice: London software start-up Go Instore allows online browsers to connect with available in-store staff via live-stream video to discuss products in real time. Swedish footwear brand Axel Arigato has equipped its in-store staff with the software, alongside easy-to-use cinematography equipment including stabilisers to produce high-quality on-brand video content. British tech company Dyson uses the technology to live-stream product demos. Consumers can plug in and raise questions, with demo presenters answering in real time – changing the presentation flow accordingly. See our Hero case study in Reflexive Retail, part of our Liquid Retail Industry Trend.
Paper Planes
Paper Planes
  • Yosh.AI – 360° Fashion Personalisation: Polish artificial intelligence (AI) start-up Yosh.AI has created a plug-and-play ecosystem of AI personalisation tools specifically for fashion retailers. Using fashion-specific proprietary algorithms (created in conjunction with Google), it features a visual search engine, an image recognition solution that automates image tagging, and an AI chatbot. There’s also a predictive recommendation engine connected to outside-sourced user profiles, providing a much clearer picture on consumer behaviour. All tools can be purchased individually, or as a package. Yosh.AI currently works with Elle magazine on a personalised chatbot to monetise its knowledge. See also Concierge Commerce.
  • Iine Card – Closing the Inspiration & Action Gap: Polish visual recognition and commerce start-up Iine Card is helping content creators enable readers to buy the products shown in print magazines. Any magazine subscribing to the plug-and-play solution can recreate the magazine via an easy-to-use CMS system within a private-label app. Readers can then purchase all products shown in the magazine via an affiliated retailer network by simply hovering their smartphone camera over the pages. See also Solving Retail’s Search Conundrums.
Iine Card
Iine Card
Iine Card
Iine Card
  • Increasingly – Smart Cross-Selling: London AI cross-selling start-up Increasingly deploys its proprietary ‘affordability’ algorithm to suggest a bundle of products that complement goods consumers have already bought. For instance, when buying a Nikon camera, the software suggests purchasing a flash and a camera bag by taking consumers’ previous spending habits into account – only showing ‘affordable’ options. The API solution can be downloaded and integrated with the retailer’s system within 15 minutes, and sits above their inventory software. It boasts a 12% increase in average order value.
  • Zaptic – Gamified Workforce App: Manchester workforce tool start-up Zaptic has launched a mobile app specifically for front-line retail operation staff. Streamlining workload, users see all tasks in the form of ‘to-do’ challenges, showing what needs to be done, by whom and where – all on the user’s own smartphone or any other business device. Using the power of gamification, users can earn points (redeemable against brand-sponsored rewards) and achievement badges for completing activities, boosting productivity and engagement. Retailers have visibility of field activity and can track performance. See also Tech Flex: Retail’s Omni-Era Workforce.

See Retail Week Live 2018 for full event coverage. For more start-up innovations, see Decoded Fashion, London 2017: Start-Ups to Watch and RBTE 2017: Best Tech Innovators.

Published: 15 Mar 2018

SXSW: L’Oreal Showcases Custom Foundation

L'Oreal at South by Southwest

L’Oreal showcased a standout piece of beauty tech at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas (March 9-18). The cosmetics giant’s Innovation Lab developed a dispenser that can create 8,000 bespoke blends of foundation.

Le Teint Particulier (LTP) uses artificial intelligence to formulate foundation tailored specifically to the user. An analyser comes into contact with three points on the user’s face at a short distance, so light is prevented from disrupting the colour-matching process. The data is picked up by an algorithm, which maps out the levels of cyan, magenta and yellow that are present to identify the customer’s skin tone. Before the machine blends and dispenses the precise shade, users can select the desired coverage and finish.

LTP was originally developed for L’Oreal’s colour cosmetics brand Lancôme in 2016, debuting exclusively at luxury US department store chain Nordstrom. L’Oreal shared the technology at SXSW because LTP is still the most advanced custom-blend foundation machine in the world – offering more shades than a supply chain could produce.

Shrewd brands such as Fenty Beauty  and Huda Beauty have acknowledged the diversity of their consumer bases by launching foundation ranges of up to 40 shades, but L’Oreal’s device taps into a more valuable strategy – complexion colour matching. In 2017, Pinterest data revealed saves for complexion colour matching rose to a whopping 378% on the image-pinning platform, confirming the consumer desire for this bespoke offering.

For more on personalisation, tech and inclusivity in the beauty category, see Future Beauty: Perfecting Bespoke, E-Beauty: Digital Device Boom and Inclusive Beauty: 5 Key Lessons

Published: 14 Mar 2018

British Adults Concerned About Sharing Data

A third of British adults would feel more comfortable if an organisation explained how it intended to use their data

Brits are concerned about sharing their personal information online and are more comfortable sharing data with organisations they know and trust, according to new research from UK non-profit Open Data Institute (ODI). Key highlights include:

  • Familiarity Breeds Trust: Knowledge of an organisation increases people's likelihood to share their personal data. Sixty-four per cent of respondents would share their personal information with a brand or organisation they know, while only 36% would offer such details to one they didn't. However, this behaviour changes with age. One in five (20%) 18- to 24-year-olds would feel comfortable sharing their date of birth with an organisation they hadn't heard of, while for 45- to 54-year-olds, the figure is just 8%.
  • Health Comes First: The most popular 'data trade-off' was for medical research, with 47% saying they would share health-related information if it helped develop new medicines and treatments. In fact, more consumers trust health organisations with their data (64%) than they do their friends and family (57%).
  • Information is Power: A third of respondents (33%) said they would feel more comfortable if an organisation explained exactly how it intended to use or share their data. The findings also reveal a lack of data literacy among consumers and highlight the role that brands might play in addressing this, as 18% would welcome clear, step-by-step instructions on how to share their personal data safely.

For more on how brands can attain trust in the era of big data and artificial intelligence, see Tech for Trust: DLD 2018.

Published: 13 Mar 2018

Pop.Up Next: Hybrid Flying Concept Car

Pop.Up Next concept car

German car manufacturer Audi, European aerospace company Airbus and Italian engineering company Italdesign presented a new flying car concept called Pop.Up Next at the Geneva Motor Show 2018 (March 8-18). It's a hybrid between a car and a quadcopter, and is fully electric and autonomous.

Unlike other flying cars, Pop.Up Next consists of two parts: a two-seat car pod and a drone-like quadcopter module that attaches on top to transform it into a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) air vehicle.

The companies envision that when passengers travelling in the car get stuck in traffic, they can use an accompanying app to hail the quadcopter component, which will pick up the vehicle and fly it to its destination. These flying parts will recharge on top of buildings until they're summoned by a user.

Pop.Up Next is the evolution of Pop.Up, a concept Airbus and Italdesign presented in Geneva in 2017 without Audi. The new version is much lighter than its predecessor and has a redesigned interior. According to its creators, it aims to free commuters from the need to drive and offers a solution to growing traffic problems in city centres.

"Creativity is needed where new mobility concepts for cities and people's diverse needs are concerned," said Bernd Martens, Audi board member and Italdesign president. "Pop.Up Next is an ambitious vision that could permanently change our urban life in the future." 

For more on the future of mobility, see Radical Transport. Don't miss our Geneva Motor Show 2018 coverage, publishing on March 22.

Published: 13 Mar 2018

Preview: Youth Marketing Strategies 2018

Youth Marketing Strategy 2018

As discussed in our report Pop Culture Round-Up: Winter 2018, the values, desires and attitudes of Gen Z have recently been amplified by two very different experiences. One was the reaction to the tragedy of the Parkland high-school shooting in the US; the other was the success of a new generation of young, multicultural and LGBTQ athletes at the Winter Olympics.

The power of this Gen Z cultural moment comes as no surprise to anyone aware of this demographic's savviness, individuality and diverse outlook. But it underscores how important they're becoming as a consumer force. However, that's not to say they can be easily defined.

This year's Youth Marketing Strategies (YMS) conference (London, March 21-22) will gather social media experts, marketers, start-ups and young consumers to explore Gen Z trends and attitudes, and help brands better understand this complex generation.

YMS's parent company, youth insights business Voxburner, will be launching its latest Youth Trends Report at the event, "busting any misconceptions you may have on the attitudes, values and behaviours of this generation". Attendees will also hear from the likes of social media marketing firm Social Chain, Chinese digital agency Qumin, and marketing experts from liqueur brand Jägermeister and ice-cream giant Häagen-Dazs.

Stylus will also be participating. Christian Ward, head of Media & Marketing, will be chairing a panel with Sony, Three, BBC Radio, US entertainment company Refinery29 and UK production company Mad Cow Films on how to create truthful and innovative digital content.

If you'd like to attend YMS, we're offering a 20% discount. Use the code STYLUS20 when buying tickets here.

For more on marketing to Gen Z, see Pop Culture Close-Up: The Outrage Economy, 7 Platforms to Watch in 2018, and our Pop Culture Infographic, The Five Es of Gen Z.

Published: 12 Mar 2018

Guardian Changing Media Summit 2018

Guardian Changing Media Summit 2018

The stark realities of the crisis in media and advertising were faced head-on at this year's Guardian Changing Media Summit (London BFI, March 7). From the gender pay gap, to better representation of women and minorities and the ad world's battle with Silicon Valley, the BFI echoed with loud calls for change.

The #MeToo Revolution

There was anger from a number of panellists at what's been lost as a result of women feeling forced to leave the industry because of sexism and harassment. British media writer Jane Martinson pushed Martin Sorrell, chief of UK advertising giant WPP, on the need for change in his own business. "Women in our industry are more effective than men," Sorrell commented – prompting Martinson to ask: "Why don't you promote more women then?"

British advertising consultant Cindy Gallop saw this gap between words and deeds as a key problem. Gallop emphasised that the biggest issue facing the ad industry today is sexual harassment. "It keeps out of leadership and power the leaders who would make equality, diversity and inclusion happen," she said. She called for action through demonstration: "Don't do stunts about diversity, or create content about diversity – be diverse."

Trust Issues

In the "fake news" era, the question of trust is crucial. Sam Baker, founder of UK female-focused platform The Pool, commented that "the only value you have is the audience's trust". Farrah Storr, editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan UK, agreed, pointing to the value of print in establishing that image of trustworthiness. "Advertisers are understanding the role that print plays in building trust," she said.

There was concern over the way social media forces people into "echo chambers", where they only hear opinions that they agree with. However, Matt Kelly, editor of pro-EU newspaper The New European, vehemently disagreed. "The media has never been more plural; the echo chamber has been completely blown apart," he said. "The problem is the fact-checking. We're suckers for a story, and journos have become lazy in grabbing onto tags [like fake news]. We need to be much better in establishing facts."

Kelly sees this as an opportunity: "Brands will gravitate to being trustworthy," he commented. Nick Robinson, presenter of BBC Today, agreed: "Brands will re-establish themselves," he said. "People will realise that they need to go to brands they can trust, because you don't have time to assess for yourself the truth of stories."

Emily Maitlis chairing a session on the impact of #metoo

Brands Take Back Control

This idea of brands reasserting themselves as arbiters of truth and authenticity was important for many speakers, who believed that brands have for too long been doing whatever the tech giants demanded of them.

Sacha Berlik, managing director, EMEA of global programmatic agency The Trade Desk, said: "Advertisers can vote with their money. They can make a decision [about] if they want to fund unmonitored social media content, or fund quality journalism." He believes that "we need to be educating the advertising world" on the responsibilities they should be taking on to ensure trustworthy journalism survives.

Gallop came at the same problem from a different angle. "We have a responsibility to redesign the future of technology," she said. "The founders of the big tech companies hate advertising. When you hate advertising, you will never leverage your resources and talent to innovate completely new forms of powerful new advertising on your platforms."

Gallop views this as a massive opportunity for brands and marketers to take back control. "The future is not ad units – it's ad products," she said. "Things of utility and value that surprise and delight consumers in the way they're delivered. We have the opportunity to create those. Look at those platforms and decide how you'd like to use them."

As such, she advised brands: "Blue-sky it. Don't look at what exists now – project out five years down the line; go sci-fi and magical."

For further analysis of all these issues, see State of Media: The Fan-First Revolution, A Fashion A'Woke'ening, Pop Culture Close-Up: The Outrage Economy and Tackling Taboos.

Published: 12 Mar 2018

Lidl Launches Digital Wine Sommelier


German supermarket chain Lidl has launched a new Facebook chat tool that can assist customers with choosing the right wine to pair with their meal.

To access the bot, dubbed Margot, consumers head to the Lidl Facebook page and click 'send message'. They then select from food-pairing advice, a wine finder, or an educational wine quiz. For the first two options, the user types in what they are looking for, for example a wine to be paired with a particular dish or a variety from a specific region. The chatbot then picks up on key words such as foods, grape varieties, countries, colours and even emoji, subsequently suggesting wines from Lidl's wine selection.

Alex Murray, digital director at Lidl UK, said: "Margot will ensure choosing the right wine is never a daunting process, and we hope this service – along with the existing in-store and online information we already provide – encourages customers to discover the perfect wine from our curated range."

For more on how supermarkets are using technology to create an interactive and seamless experience, see Future Supermarket Strategies, The Mobile-First Supermarket and EuroShop Follow-Up: The Tech-Powered Supermarket.

Published: 9 Mar 2018

Connected Space to Hire: Samsung Launches IoT-Enabled Pop-Up

Samsung x Barrows

Samsung has launched an Internet of Things-powered pop-up store concept with data collection and analytics capabilities, available for retailers to hire.

Called Connected Spaces, it’s a collaboration with global shopper conversion specialist Barrows, which handles pop-up ideation, location scouting, logistics and fulfilment for renters.

Available in three sizes, the space comes outfitted with Samsung’s own retail tech innovations. These allow retailers to shed light on data darkness and gain real-time insight into shoppers’ needs by tracking consumer behaviours on a granular level. This can help them to make data-driven decisions and create consumer-centric experiences in the future.

Data is collected via sensors, cameras and connected devices such as digital interactive kiosks and mobile scanners. An analytics dashboard, linked to Samsung’s proprietary real-time behavioural sensing technology Nexshop, gives retailers an overview of metrics such as overall use of store, footfall, average customer dwell time and demographics (age and gender). Results can be filtered by store zone and time of day.

The flexibility is impressive. Staff can adjust the in-store experience in real time. Layout, product placements, staff scheduling and inventory management can all be adjusted promptly after analysing the in-store customer journey and sales figures.

While 47% of commerce leaders are planning to invest in in-store analytics technology (Forrester, 2017), most smaller retailers don’t have the resources to access such expertise. This short-term solution provides an attractive insight into the potential of data.

See also ShopWithMe: Responsive Pop-Up Store Space and Smart Stores.