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Brief Published: 10 May 2021

Retail Connected 2021: Event Highlights

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Pangaia x Selfridges

New retail conference Retail Connected (April 26-30) focused on post-pandemic recovery and a changing consumer landscape with inclusivity, sustainability and FMCG brands borrowing DTC tactics for the headline topics. We distil the most noteworthy learnings from brands including Chinese e-commerce giant Tmall, UK eco-innovative fashion brand Pangaia and Canadian e-commerce platform Shopify.

Pangaia Talks Finessing Eco-Ethical Brand Messaging

Pangaia’s chief innovation officer Dr Amanda Parkes highlighted the need to communicate sustainability-centric messaging and product innovation to consumers, in both physical and digital experiences, citing two recent retail initiatives. Firstly, its recent residency at British department store Selfridges’ Corner Shop, via rather literal visual merchandising (VM) – a lab filled with vials and flasks of brightly coloured liquids and a showcase of materials such as seaweed featured in Pangaia product. For similar VM, see also British brand Haeckel’s East London store in New Sustainable Brand Spaces.

Secondly, she mentioned its self-exploratory virtual brandscape, created in partnership with London College of Fashion’s Fashion Innovation Agency and virtual immersive e-commerce specialists AnamXR, to showcase its sustainable Flwrdwn puffer jackets. See The Brief for more details.

As Parkes told Stylus’ director of Brand Engagement, Katie Baron, at the launch: “We’re doing this to create a visual but also metaphorical connection to the products [and their holistic discovery], because people have become extremely disconnected to the source of their garments. As the scientific adage goes, you don’t teach a lesson, you set up the conditions to elicit a meaningful experience. There has to be a degree of self-discovery.”

Parkes stated Pangaia is now inserting QR codes into its clothing explaining how the garment should be disposed of in future: “We do make clothes, but we want to participate in a larger model of resale and rental and upcycle. We need to push the circular economy forward, not just focus on our bottom line. For more, see Rebooting Re-Commerce: Revisiting Resale Rental.

Tmall On Leaning into Luxurified Live-Streaming

Speaking about the Covid-induced live-streaming boom (see Covid-19 & Beyond: Leveraging Live-Stream Commerce), Christina Fontana, head of fashion and luxury at Chinese e-commerce giant Tmall, said she believes there is an inaccurate tendency outside China to view live streaming as a value-centric medium unsuited to luxury.

Citing French luxury jewellery brand Cartier’s Singles’ Day live stream, a vastly popular two-hour broadcast during which it showcased 400 pieces of jewellery and watches, including a necklace priced at $28.3m, she stated, “Luxury live-streaming is about sharing brand heritage and craftsmanship.”

See our coverage of Singles’ Day 2020 for more.

Shopify Spotlights FMCG Adoption of DTC Tactics

Reflecting on the changing face of e-commerce during the pandemic and which Covid-induced trends would remain post-lockdown, Shopify president Harley Finkelstein discussed FMCG giants taking on a direct-to-consumer (DTC) mantle: “DTC is moving well beyond the traditional players. You have seen brands including Heinz, Lindt and Snickers going direct to consumer and acting in a very entrepreneurial way.”

For more on how FMCG giants including Arla Foods (Denmark) and Nestlé are adopting DTC tactics, see our upcoming report Lessons from DTC's Disruptors, publishing on May 13.

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A jewellery and watches livestream on Tmall
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Cartier's promotional image for its livestream
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