Shopping for shades is more interactive at Sunglass Hut, thanks to a new retail concept called SocialSun. By the end of this month, nine stores will be outfitted with SocialSun stations, where customers can snap photos of themselves trying on sunglasses and share them with friends and fellow shoppers.
About 15 percent of customers who walk into a store use the SocialSun station, and about 20 percent of those return and use it again.
“In the stores where it’s been up for the past six months, customers come back again to post and share more pictures,” said Sunglass Hut vice president of marketing Marcello Favagrossa. “It was clear it was going to make the shopping experience at Sunglass Hut more fun and engaging, and encourage customers to come back to the store more often.”
Columbus, Ohio-based Sunglass Hut started testing the concept in two area stores in October last year. After exit interviews showed customers enjoyed the idea, the retailer started rolling out the system to New York, Santa Monica, Miami and Beverly Hills last month.
At a 17-inch touch screen, customers can take as many as 12 photos of themselves. They can compare their appearance in various sunglass styles side by side, e-mail photos to friends, post them on Facebook or display images in the store on a giant screen.
A store manager uses an iPod Touch to view and approve each photo before it is displayed in the store, using an application created for the purpose. The systems and software are linked and managed from a central location. They were built and written by Micro Industries, an original equipment manufacturer in Columbus that has about 50 employees and specializes in the retail and medical industries. The computers use Intel processors and run the Windows XP Embedded operating system.
The uploaded photos show about half the users are men and half women. The majority appear to be adults in their 20s. Ninety percent send the photos to friends or post them on Facebook.
Sunglass Hut’s inventory turns over about four times a year. A typical store has 700 to 900 stockkeeping units. Brands include Ray-Ban, Oakley, Persol, Prada, Versace, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, DKNY and Ralph Lauren.
Sunglass Hut plans to do more research on SocialSun this summer. If the concept is well received, it could appear in as many as 300 more stores in 2010 and possibly internationally as well. The company operates about 1,600 stores in North America, some of which are kiosks and stores within department stores. Parent company Luxottica Group SpA, based in Milan, earned 379.7 million euros, or $558.5 million, on sales of 5.2 billion euros, or $7.65 billion, in 2008, although earnings declined last year and in the first quarter of this year.
The three-year plan, if implemented, would be a multimillion-dollar investment.
“We’re hoping we’re somehow contributing to making the retail environment a more fun, interactive and innovative place to be,” said Favagrossa.
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye