MOBILE PAYMENTS

by: Bennett Faber / Jana Melkumova-Reynolds

BIG NAME RETAILERS ARE INVESTING IN TECHNOLOGIES THAT ACCELERATE THEIR CHECKOUT PROCESS. WeAr INVESTIGATES THE TREND

2018 may go down in retail history as the dawning of the cashier-less store. January saw the opening of Amazon Go, the first brick-and-mortar supermarket owned by the e-tail giant, in the US city of Seattle. One of its key features is the absence of traditional checkouts: instead, the store is equipped with sensors that record the items being picked up and charge their price to the customer’s Amazon account, allowing shoppers to bypass the till as they leave the store. In March, Europe’s largest consumer electronics retailer MediaMarktSaturn launched Saturn Express, the cashier-less store powered by MishiPay’s ‘Scan Pay Leave’ technology, in Innsbruck, Austria. Here, too, customers scan their chosen product with their mobile device, and the payment process within the app instantly deactivates the anti-shoplifting system for the product in question.
Big fashion retailers are following suit. In March 2018, US department store chain Macy’s announced several new features within its mobile app. One of them will allow customers to scan and pay for items directly using their smartphone, thus allowing them to circumvent traditional cashier services. By 2019, the feature is expected to be available in Macy’s locations nationwide. Similarly, Nordstrom, which began experimenting with mobile checkouts in 2011, has armed its employees with mobile tools allowing them to access content and inventories instantly, as well as increasing their floor coverage by not tying them to the counter.
Digitizing the checkout process can be seen as a bid to entice shoppers back into stores. “If you want to know the single biggest pain point in our stores right now, it’s the checkout process,” Macy’s chairman and CEO Jeff Gennette told an investor conference in March. “It’s finding the register. Is there going to be somebody there? Is there a long line of customers and how long is it going to take me to get out?” Mobile payment systems reduce these frustrationsandenhancethecustomer’s in-store experience.
But automating payments isn’t just about getting rid of lines at the counter: it also has an added benefit of repurposing the role of sales associates. Freed from having to manually check out clients, sales staff can now be deployed to deliver more focused customer service, provide consumers with more in-depth product information and, ultimately, achieve higher conversion rates. In other words, to make the brick-and-mortar store what it’s meant to be: a place of meaningful human interaction.

Photo Credits: Macy's

CLIENTELING 2.0: DIGITIZING CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIPS

By: Bennett Faber

FACED WITH CHANGING SHOPPING HABITS AND INCREASED COMPETITION FROM ONLINE PLATFORMS, BRICK AND MORTAR RETAILERS ARE EQUIPPING SALES STAFF WITH NEW TECH TO OPTIMIZE THEIR CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIPS

Here are two retail facts: today’s consumers shop 24 hours a day, yet brick-and- mortar stores are only open during the daytime; many customers respond best to sales associates with whom they have a relationship. How can these two realities be reconciled – and how can the sales associate’s connection with a client extend beyond the shop floor? The answer is digital forms of ‘clienteling’, the technique used by retail workers to bond with their customers. New technologies enable shop assistants to make a sale even when the customer isn’t physically in front of them.

“Retail associates [can] now generate sales online as much as they do in-store,” says Oscar Sachs, Co-Founder and CEO of Salesfloor, a so ware-as-service (SaaS) platform that enables shoppers on desktop and mobile to connect with sales associates at their nearest store. Associates can create personalized versions of the retailer’s larger webpage, assemble lookbooks, recommend products and drive local marketing campaigns. Salesfloor also consolidates customer purchasing data and shopping preferences, equipping associates with information to ease follow-ups. And associates can track KPIs, such as e-mail open and click rate, through the Salesfloor app, allowing them to measure their own activities more effectively.

Over the past two years, Salesfloor has partnered with Saks Fith Avenue, Bloomingdales and Lord & Taylor. The company claims to have seen a 50% increase in online average sales, with a 40% reduction in returns rate.

Digitizing the clienteling process allows retailers to mobilize their core strength – their associates – to deliver omnichannel customer relationships. New York’s luxury fashion boutique Fivestory has expanded its sales team and invested in Oracle’s Netsuite so ware to monitor online customer communications with style advisors. Meanwhile, multibrands like The Webster and Hirshleifers have partnered with personal shopping app PS Dept, allowing potential shoppers to ping product questions to their sales associates.

Faced with greater choice than ever before, customers increasingly need help to make decisions. Research by Salesfloor found that 87 percent of shoppers were more likely to buy items recommended by associates, and 77 percent were more likely to purchase from an associate that had helped them before. As influencer marketing gains traction among brands, client-relationship platforms allow retail- ers to leverage their associates to build influencer-style relationships with shoppers in need of trusted voices.

Photo Credits: Image courtesy of SalesFloor

STEALING BEAUTY

by: Jana Melkumova-Reynolds

FASHION RETAILERS AND TRADE SHOWS ARE BEGINNING TO TAKE COSMETICS AND BODY CARE PRODUCTS SERIOUSLY. WeAr INVESTIGATES

In autumn 2017, major US fashion trade show Coterie introduced its ‘Beauty@ Coterie’ section for the first time, offering fragrance, makeup and skincare lines. A year down the line, the decision seems even more timely and prescient as key fashion retailers are branching out into apothecary and cosmetics.

Italian retailer LuisaViaRoma has just launched a new section dedicated to beauty with over 3,000 products spanning a variety of segments: from trendy products, such as Ouai Haircare, to premium makeup lines, such as Ellis Faas; from doctor- backed clinical skincare by the likes of Dr. Barbara Sturm to botanical beauty brands, such as Grown Alchemist. Meanwhile, German online fashion behemoth Zalando opened its first bricks-and-mortar store in Berlin in July and dedicated it entirely to beauty products. Apart from shopping, visitors will be able to have express manicures, skincare consultations and makeovers. And British online retailer ASOS launched its own cosmetics and skincare line at the end of last year.

What’s the attraction? For a start, beauty is a lower risk product category than fashion. Brand loyalty is higher in this segment: a customer who bought and liked a moisturizer from a brand is more likely to come back to the same label for an eye cream. There is less need for novelty: customers tend to restock on their favorite beauty items again and again – something unthinkable in fashion. Finally, selling cosmetics and apothecary items is a great way to engage clients in a dialogue:

today’s customers may be savvy and self-sufficient when it comes to clothes, but, according to numerous studies, most people prefer to seek advice from a sales assistant when it comes to shopping for beauty.

So, if you haven’t yet invested in beauty products (other than a couple of perfumes and the occasional organic hand cream) now is the time to do so. A beauty counter, if used cleverly, does not need to take up a lot of space and can give your customers multiple reasons to come into your store: offering advice, color matching and express makeovers – and free samples, of course – will create extra buzz in the shop and boost your customers’ mood; with a little skill from your associates and a clever product selection (both in fashion and in beauty), these assets can then be converted into sales.

Photo Credits: LuisaViaRoma

Menswear Labels to Watch

MAROSBARAN

Slovakian artist Maroš Baran studied Fine Arts in Bratislava and Utrecht, and then fashion and foot- wear design in Prague. After internships at Acne Studios in Stockholm, JW Anderson and Hussein Chalayan in London and A.F. Vandevorst in Antwerp, he moved to Paris and founded his crossover label MAROSBARAN. In his work, Baran merges fashion with performance, installation and video art: thus, his latest collection, ‘Aftermath S/S19’, was presented in a Parisian ceramic atelier where two performers were slowly gluing back together a broken porcelain vase to the sound of a rainstorm; this lasted almost four hours. The collection itself was inspired by super- hero aesthetics and technological futures, featur- ing an eclectic combination of combat, sportswear and tailoring styles. Baran has showcased his work in New York, Tokyo, Vienna, San Francisco, London, Dubai, Tuzla, Budapest, Prague, Brno and Bratislava, and is beginning to build up his international whole- sale portfolio.

FUMITO GANRYU

Fumito Ganryu’s story began at Rei Kawakubo’s Comme des Garçons where he worked as womens- wear pattern maker and designed a workwear-in- spired menswear line, ‘Ganryu’, for over a decade.

This year has seen him launch his own eponymous label with a catwalk show at Pitti Uomo. He refers to his work as “conceptual casualwear” and aims to create functional garments that are in harmony with both nature and the urban environment: pieces that follow the wearer throughout the day, easy to use and immediate to understand; design objects with a strong futuristic image. In his debut S/S19 collection, traditional items like hakama trousers, tied at the waist, are rebuilt into contemporary urban garments. The materials highlight the sleek constructions and functionality: waterproof neoprene, comfortable indigos and fabrics with a watery feel cocoon the wearer, protecting him from the elements. From next season onward, Ganryu will be showcasing his collections in Paris.

OISÍN HUNT

New York-based label Oisín Hunt has only been around for a year, but many will be familiar with the designer’s work from his previous label, Dog Eat Dog (D.EA.D), an alias he used from 2013 before rebranding his collections with his real name in 2017. Hunt received a BSc in Business and Management from the National University of Ireland. During his studies he worked with a prestigious tailor in Dublin and later started his own menswear line that experi- ments with altering classic silhouettes by shaping garments through fabrics and wiring. The S/S19 collection, entitled ‘Emptiness within Visual Mirror- ing’, features deconstructed patterns, geometrical shapes and a three-piece denim set and explores ideas of mirroring, suit shaping and the sexualiza- tion of male hips. An Irishman in New York, Hunt is proud of his heritage: his collections are produced in Ireland from premium Irish fabrics. The brand is currently showing at the Capsule tradeshow and is represented by the Carlus agency.

Photo Credits: MAROSBARAN, FUMITO GANRYU, OISIN HUNT

MENSWEAR TREND

TOTAL COLOR

by: Angela Cavalca

VIBRANT TON-SUR-TON OUTFITS AND TOTAL LOOKS COMPRISING ONE COLOR MARK A NEW ERA IN MENSWEAR’S QUEST TO EMBRACE BRIGHTER SHADES

While colorful sportswear-inspired garments have been a menswear staple for a few seasons now, tailoring and more mature segments of casual wear avoided vivid shades until recently. But not any more: the latest collections present a new, confident take on monochrome, choosing all-red, all-aquamarine and all-vermillion over the usual all-black and all-grey.
At Paul Smith’s catwalk show, sharp coats in radiant turquoise were styled with suits and tops in the same color and interspersed with outfits in other unapologeti- cally rich shades of blue, such as petroleum. Ermenegildo Zegna’s Alessandro Sartori interpreted the trend with a nonchalant vibe, combining a ribbed cotton corduroy suit with a ribbed jumper in sky blue in one outfit, and shades of ochre with orange accents in another. Haider Ackermann’s Berluti collection comprised a purple turtleneck worn with high-rise trousers in a darker shade of purple.
Shades of yellow, one of fashion’s trickiest colors, are enjoying a moment of popu- larity with a number of designers. Both Maison Margiela and MSGM demonstrate liberal use of the color in outfits with utilitarian details, such as large military flap pockets and straps. At Atsushi Nakashima, mustard is paired with burnt orange in a modern urban look teetering on the verge of tailoring and casual.
Once the domain of childrenswear, womenswear and sportswear, color is now clearly also on the agenda of men’s labels. This is great news for retailers: merchan- dising the menswear section has finally acquired some serious fun potential.
Photo Credits: Paul Smith, Berluti, Atsushi Nakashima, Ermenegildo Zegna