The focus of the National Retail Federation’s show in New York last week was the poor economy — for once, technology got sidelined.
But new ideas could bring in customers, said Fred Balboni, IBM Global Retail industry leader. “You have to do something that creates excitement around your experience as a retailer,” he said.
Cell phones were a widespread theme, while few executives mentioned RFID. At the Sonic Bar booth, Microsoft demonstrated its platform for tagging objects with two-dimensional bar codes. Microsoft Tag went live this month, and any user can set up, manage and monitor the creation of 2D barcodes on Microsoft’s site. Once the tag is printed and attached to something, such as a garment, shoppers can point their cell phones at a tag and call up a Web site with a video or information about how, for example, an item of clothing was made out of recycled materials using eco-friendly processes.
Avery Dennison has created a similar program and can print its labels and hangtags with its own 2-D bar codes. Such bar codes have already been widely used in Asia to promote brands such as Coke and Estée Lauder.
One of the most intriguing ideas was a kiosk that snaps a photo of a shopper and virtually applies makeup to the image. A major U.S. retailer plans to pilot the EZface Virtual Mirror Kiosk this quarter. CoverGirl and Garnier France already use a version of the technology online. The concept is well-suited for drugstores and the Internet, where products cannot be sampled.
EZface co-founder and vice president of marketing Ruth Gal came up with the idea late at night, when she was researching the latest color trends online while her children slept. “It was hard to see the colors,” she said. “I thought it would be great to have my virtual image and apply all the colors and decide what is the best color on me.” EZface is working with IBM to market and install the application.
IBM also demonstrated a new version of its visual 3-D technology that virtually brings together shoppers via cell phone, Internet and store. A shopper in the store can see anything for sale, such as a chair or dress, floating in 3-D space on a computer monitor. The shopper can send the item to a friend’s iPhone, so the friend sees the item in a product detail page on her iPhone and can chat about it or buy it.
IBM and Sky IT Group revealed that Theory is using its SkyPAD dashboard service to track and react more quickly to sales trends in stores, said Theory chief information officer Keitaro Shigemasa. For example, when leggings did well, the company was able to cut additional ones and sell more. The software also gives Theory more information about individual stores and better end-of-season reports.
Torex, which makes point-of-sale and Compass merchandising software, launched a customer loyalty product with an unusual feature: The software can be set up to recognize when a customer enters a store and can deliver a set of relevant promotions. Customers can be recognized by their mobile phone signals or a card with a loyalty chip in it. The customers could also use a kiosk to swipe their cards and download promotions.
Spencer Maynard, New Look vice president of allocation, said giving customers newness is key to doing well — especially in a down economy. “Fast fashion is now standard in almost all markets from clothing to electronics to food,” he said. The company has about nine million customers, and almost 40 percent of U.K. women shop there. New Look expects markdowns on trendy items and doesn’t try to keep them in stock for more than two or three weeks, he said. Fashion basics, on the other hand, have a longer shelf life and better full-price sellthroughs. “Because we didn’t have high levels of commitment [on fashion items], it frees up working capital, and we had a very successful Christmas,” he said.
For the most recent 12-week period, including after Christmas, total group sales were up 14.5 percent, market share was up 5 percent and margin up 1.7 percent, he said.
“They want to see it in a magazine, go to a shop, do it cheaply and brag to friends just how cheaply they did it,” he said. Any retailer who can do that is in a position to ride the difficult market conditions of the next few years, he added.
London’s newly opened @designmuseum will look back on the life and work of Azzedine Alaïa in a show that the designer helped to curate before he died of heart failure last month. The retrospective, which Alaïa had worked on with Mark Wilson, chief curator of the @groningermuseum, will look at the impact of his work worldwide. The show, “Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier,” will run from May 10 to October 7. Read more about the exhibit on WWD.com #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @zefashioninsider)
@Pharrell and his wife Helen Lasichanh were among the stars that came out to celebrate @rimowa’s first pop-up concept shop. The space, which is located on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, draws inspiration from airport luggage carousels and lounge areas – and features the company’s luggage and accessories. If the pop-up is successful it could pave the way for addition temporary shops throughout the world. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA)
@carineroitfeld celebrated @crfashionbook’s first calendar last night with a dinner party at Spring Place in Manhattan. Photographed by @stevenkleinstudio, the calendar takes on a fitness theme and features @joansmalls, @gigihadid, @danielle_herrington_ – pictured here – and more. “[Carine Roitfeld] wanted me to feel sexy and she wanted me to be myself and feel it out on my own and do what I felt was right,” said Herrington, aka Miss October. #wwdeye
@saintrecords and @virgilabloh last night at @americanexpress’ “A Night With Success Makers” event. “I always bring it back to community because without that I wouldn’t have the courage,” said Knowles when asked how she has gotten where she is now. Read more highlights from their conversation on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @lizdoupnik)
This Just In: Industry sources have told WWD that Anastasia Soare is rumored to be considering selling her beauty business, @anastasiabeverlyhills. According to those sources, Soare has tapped investment bank Imperial Capital to explore sale options for her eponymous beauty brand –– and with at least $340 million in net sales, this would be a big deal. Put in context of other recent transactions for makeup companies, Soare’s price tag could be in the billions if she were to sell the whole thing. #wwdnews #wwdbeauty (📷: @clint_spaulding)
@assouline’s latest book, “The Spirit of Bentley: Be Extraordinary” captures the adventurous attitudes and opulent lifestyles of @bentleymotors’ most creative owners and enthusiasts throughout the U.K. The 292-page hardcover has a section dedicated to showing its team of skilled artisans and photos of its most colorful owners, from George Bamford to designer @alicetemperley, pictured here by Aline Coquelle. #wwdeye
@google released its report on the most popular search terms this year. For fashion brands, the list was led by @gucci, the luxury brand that stunned the market last October when it pledged to stop using fur. Runner ups were @supremenewyork and @fashionnova, along with more established brands like @louisvuitton, @chanelofficial and @ysl. #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
In yet another fashion show shuffle, @elleryland is moving its show in sync with the Paris couture calendar — though the brand is still keeping one foot on the city’s ready-to-wear schedule. Their runway show in January will coincide with the launch of a new strategy: designing two main collections each year instead of four, which will then be released in four drops. “As we all know, the system needs to change. We need to show sooner to give time back to artisans and designers to do what they do best — create,” said founder Kym Ellery. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@maxmara’s classic 101801 coat was the cornerstone of its pre-fall 2018 collection. The design team expanded the traditional double-breasted, kimono-sleeved style into a trapeze coat, lean belted styles and a peacoat and presented them in monochromatic looks – like the camel one pictured here. #wwdfashion #prefall18 (📷: George Chinsee)