Industry giants gather at Hong Kong retail conference

What will retail become in the future? Retail industry leaders such as H&M and Guess will gather on January 23rd to discuss this in Hong Kong, at this year’s edition of the Retail Cutting Edge conference. The conference will revolve around the four themes retail for the next decade, blockchain in retail, global change pain points and AR and VR. Within these themes they will explore for instance how blockchain can be used to prove product authenticity, how the demand for sustainability changes the way brands interact with customers and how AR and VR can make the transition from gimmicky to mainstream in the retail space. Read more at https://live.insideretail.hk/.
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A new take on long lasting fashion

Imagine a shirt that gets passed on from mother to daughter to granddaughter over the course of 20 years. During this process, the garment changes print and colour and ultimately gets back to the brand for reusing in new ways the last decades of its life, first as a jacket lining, then as an accessory.
This thought experiment is part of the Circular Design Speed project conducted this year by Swedish clothing brand Filippa K, research body Mistra Future Fashion and University Of The Arts London (UAL).
“If you can make a garment last through the process of reinvention in reasonable, commercially available and viable ways, you replace the purchase of a new product. The lifecycle assessment of the service shirt against a standard polyester blouse showed significant climate change savings.”, project lead, prof. Becky Earley, Co-Director, CCD, says to FashNerd.
I think this kind of thinking is exactly the industry needs right now. What if we could reimagine the whole idea of what fashion is supposed to be? What if we could rethink the whole set of attitudes surrounding it, keeping the idea of fashion as something living and constantly changing, while still managing to apply this to considerably fewer items? Applying the concept of change to the item itself instead of constantly changing the item?
It’s an exciting idea.
Personally I’m very excited to see in what ways digital technologies could help enable this change. AI is already being used by some as a tool in the design process, maybe it could be of assistance in this context as well, reimagining the next phase in the item’s life cycle? Not to mention AR, with its ability to let us enhance reality.

 

As retailers reaches for high-tech solutions – shoppers say naah

There’s apparently a gap between what customers want from retailers, and what retailers plan to give them. At least according to a research report made by Swedish payment solution company Klarna, and based on research from 50 retail decision makers and 2 000 shoppers. The report shows that the Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality solutions retailers want to invest in, would actually be rejected by 4 in 5 shoppers.
But does that mean retailers are completely wrong about investing in shopping related tech? Not necessarily.
We have to take into account the fact that a lot of these technologies are still in very early stages, as I have adressed here and here in the past couple of days. They are new to most consumers and not always that easy and smooth to use either. Tech like VR for instance, requires certain equipment that is still quite expensive. Of course a lot of consumers are going to reject anything that just seems tricky to use.
However, things change fast.
Expensive tech tends to get cheaper, hard to use solutions tend to get more user friendly over time.
So what do the consumers actually want then, according to this research? Well, most of them think online shopping is more convenient, but agree that brick and mortar stores offer a human touch that can’t be recreated online. About one fifth of them are positive to both VR and AR solutions such as smart mirrors/changing rooms and using VR headsets.
But on top of the shoppers list is simply to find the right fit. A task that is probably harder than ever for consumers with different brands having different sizing systems.
There’s a window of opportunity here: But it needs to be in a way that shoppers find accessible.

 

Swedish online store Chiquelle launches AR try-on app

An AR app for digital try-ons with the ultimate goal to lower return rates – that’s the plan for Swedish online store Chiquelle. Just in time for buyer fest Black Friday, the company will launch an app where the customers can try on clothes digitally, using an avatar.
High return rates are a big problem in the fashion industry today. Customers usually get free returns in order to make their purchase as smooth as possible. But it’s expensive. For the companies, and most of all – for the environment.
Attempting to solve this problem is therefore a great initiative, and something that all of fashion must give some serious thought. So what about the app then? Well, you just choose body type, size on upper and lower body and skin colour, and then take a selfie to complete the avatar. After that, you get to choose two items from the beta version mini collection and try it on in the environment you’re in.
According to Swedish magazine DI Digital who tested the beta version, there’s still a lot of work to do before the app works properly. But if the glitches can be fixed, I celebrate the idea of virtual try-on and look forward to it as a function in the future.

Consumers: give us AR tools for online shopping!

Are consumers warming up to the idea of virtually enhancing their online shopping? So it seems, according to a new report from e-commerce agency PushOn, The Current Daily reports.
According to the study, 45 percent of consumers would spend more money online if they had access to technology to help them visualize what they’re buying, while more than half (52 %) think that retailers should invest in technology for creating a seamless link between in-store and online shopping.
40 percent of the surveyed shoppers, would also specifically like to use some kind of Augmented Reality solution to try out what they’re buying beforehand.
Zara, Ikea, Google and Apple have all begun to invest in these technologies, and it seems it was right on time.

AR sneak peak with Adidas new ”virtual unboxing” experience

The unboxing subculture just got another special feature. Shortly before the release of their new ”Deerupt” shoe last week, Adidas Originals launched a virtual unboxing experience using AR. By clicking a link, customers would see a virtual box open up and reveal the shoe. Users could then check out the shoe from every angle, using a cursor of fingertip to move it around.
Harry Bee, chief creative officer of Annex88, the agency who worked with Adidas Originals on the AR program, told Glossy magazine that the idea was to democratize the experience that only a lucky few usually gets experience.

Zara goes AR in their window displays

Starting in April, clothing chain Zara will introduce AR in their window displays. The move is said to be a way of attracting millennials who tend to prefer online alternatives such as Amazon to physical stores, according to Reuters.
So how will this AR installation work exactly? Well, when holding a mobile phone to a sensor in the window (or inside the store), customers will be able to see models wearing different looks, and also click to buy what they want.
The AR displays will be introduced in 120 Zara stores all over the world, from April 18.