Weekly Industry Brief: 8.29.2016

Our last summer Friday  is upon us…SOS!  Good news is that it’s basically holiday now. Yay!

Below are highlights from the industry over the last week. Sources can be found in the hyperlinked text after the headlines.

Brand/Retailer:

  • Nordstrom to start selling J.Crew. Link
  • Tesco enters supermarket ‘time wars’ with same day and click-and-collect. Link
  • Marc Jacobs collaborates with MTV. Link
  • ASOS the most searched fashion retailer on Google in UK. Link
  • Project X points to an Amazon drive-up grocery store in Seattle. Link
  • Sephora’s Magnificent Mile store has a new, high-tech look. Link
  • Aeropostale loses bid to rein in Sycamore. Link
  • Gap and Abercrombie are trapped in retail’s nightmarish discount cycle. Link
  • Urban Outfitters bares all at its HQ. Link
  • How Le Labo took the fragrance industry by storm after starting with nothing. Link
  • Square expands lending and payment services. Link
  • Apple’s retail stores are undergoing major makeover. Link
  • Amazon tests 30-hour work week. Link
  • Startups in Target’s Techstar accelerator race to the finish line. Link

Marketing/Social:

  • London is getting the first Youtube store. Link
  • Apple weighs iPhone video editing app in renewed push on social. Link
  • Snapchat bringing live scores to high school football games. Link
  • Why text message marketing works on millennials. Link
  • Major brands are betting big on podcasts and it seems to be paying off. Link
  • How Revolve is using “style codes” to hack Instagram and Snapchat. Link
  • Warby Parker made a video game to cure your workday boredom. Link

Startup/Emerging Tech:

  • Best Buy set to be virtual reality’s first mainstream test. Link
  • Introducing the first voice-activated hotel room. Link
  • Here’s how shoppable video will finally work. Link
  • Garmin releases its first luxury smartwatch the Fenix Chronos. Link
  • GOAT raises $5M to help sneakerheads buy and sell covetable kicks. Link
  • Helix Sleep raises $7.4M to sell made-to-order mattresses online. Link
  • Five ways beacons are transforming the enterprise. Link

International:

  • Alibaba reportedly in talks to acquire ShopClues. Link
  • UK retail sales defy gloomy Brexit expectations. Link
  • Lower retail prices threaten profits of middleman Li & Fung. Link
  • Myntra claims $1B in sales. Link
  • What’s stopping luxury goods groups in China from moving from bricks to clicks? Link
  • Can foreign tech companies win in China? Link
  • China’s yuan hits its weakest level in over a month. Link
  • EU will rule Apple owes more than $1B in back taxes resulting from Ireland arrangement. Link

Weekly Industry Brief: 5.9.2016

I’m back! I’ve been traveling (China and Hong Kong! So, lots of headlines about China…) and super busy but I’m so glad to be back and catching up on industry news. I’ve been gone for a bit so here is a recap of news over the last few weeks.  Sources can be found in the hyperlinked text after the headline.

Brand/Retailer

  • Net-a-porter and Tiffany’s ecommerce exclusive. Link
  • Gilt Groupe’s founder launches new shopping app. Link
  • Why the future of ecommerce depends on better roads. Link
  • What Nordstrom’s festival tour means for retail. Link
  • Amazon challenges Netflix by opening Prime to monthly subscribers. Link
  • Amazon updates wedding registry, adds new features. Link
  • Target’s Marimekko collection opens to muted response. Link
  • Nordstrom’s new bottom-line focus results in job cuts. Link
  • Amazon shuttering Myhabit.com. Link
  • Amazon teams up with luxury merchants to sell $7,000 ball gowns. Link
  • Gap to open design studio in Brooklyn industrial complex. Link
  • Amazon reports better than expected profits in first quarter. Link
  • Amazon pledges same-day delivery to all urban areas. Link
  • Coach announces that its cutting 300 jobs. Link
  • Gap bets on basics for growth. Link
  • Aeropostale seeks bankruptcy protection, closing all Canadian stores. Link
  • Walmart is looking for new retail tech from startups. Link
  • Macy’s woos millennials with ramped-up wedding business. Link
  • The greening of Adidas. Link
  • ASOS and Wayra launch fashion tech accelerator. Link

Marketing/Social Media

  • How Snapchat killed the homepage. Link
  • Starbucks launches controversial rewards program. Link
  • Promoted tweets with hashtags have higher CPAs, lower CTRs. Link
  • Amazon has begun labeling some of its products as Prime-exclusive. Link
  • Why Land’s End is introducing an Amazon Prime-like subscription. Link
  • A commitment to unretouched images landed model Iskra Lawrence the career of her dreams. Link

Start Ups

  • Zalora, Rocket Internet’s unprofitable Asian fashion portal is selling off business units. Link
  • Amazon eyed up Everland, Le Tote and more for acquisition in a wider fashion push. Link
  • Pepsi launches emoji pop up store at Story. Link
  • This new tool wants to make the off-price clothing business easier. Link
  • Farfetch raises $110M towards global omni-channel domination. Link

International

  • China’s cult of the ordinary commands big influence. Link
  • Alibaba to buy controlling stake in Lazada for about $1B. Link
  • Abercrombie & Fitch expands Middle East presence. Link
  • Chinese economic growth last quarter will be slowest in years. Link
  • Foreign products get more expensive for Chinese shoppers. Link
  • China regulator to launch campaign to clean up ecommerce online ads. Link
  • Levi’s applies to add retail operations in India. Link
  • Flipkart eyes on becoming India’s largest furniture retailer by year end. Link
  • Myntra launches Mizuno in India. Link
  • Apple asks India to waive local sourcing requirement. Link
  • Alibaba sales surge as Chinese consumers defy economic gloom. Link
  • Gucci departs IACC following Alibaba membership. Link

Emerging Tech/Mobile

  • Shoppers flock to apps shaking up retail. Link
  • Shopping app Spring launches one of the first bots on Facebook Messenger. Link
  • Inside the making of Taco Bell’s artificially intelligent, drunk-tolerant TacoBot. Link
  • Dunkin’ Donuts to launch delivery in Boston via app. Link
  • TopShop looking for the next big thing in wearable tech. Link
  • Bots, Messenger and the future of customer service. Link
  • Toms drives home the impact of its donations through VR. Link

WEEKLY INDUSTRY BRIEF: 6.1.2015

Happy Monday and Happy June! Below is a recap of industry highlights over the last week.  Sources can be found in the hyper-linked text after the headline.

Brand/Retailer:

  • Amazon expands same-day delivery to new markets, drops price to free for orders over $35. Link
  • Leaked site reveals more info on “Shipping Pass,” Walmart’s answer to Amazon Prime. Link
  • Kors and Tiffany hit by strong dollar. Link
  • Yelp and Shoptiques link for ecommerce. Link
  • Crew is alienating its most important customers. Link
  • Gap teams up with Spring on digital pop-up shop. Link
  • Apple is working with Postmates to offer same-day delivery. Link
  • At Amazon, a rush to make speedy delivery free. Link
  • Levi’s and Google partner on “smart fabric.” Link
  • Abercrombie posts wider loss as currency hampers turnaround. Link
  • Hot Topic bid to purchase Geeknet. Link
  • Amazon is planning to add its own line of food. Link

Marketing/Social:

  • Snapchat invests in Spring to capitalize on social commerce growth. Link
  • Vox Media acquires ReCode. Link
  • New hotel concept promises socially-focused customizable spaces for global nomads. Link
  • Google says ‘buy’ button coming to online advertising service. Link
  • Bethany Mota redefines being a celebrity. Link
  • Millenials follow Uber with new fashion trading model. Link
  • Twitter opens up more user data to marketers. Link
  • Target links up with Shazam for ad scans that link to shopping. Link
  • Facebook’s instant articles speed up mobile content. Link
  • Why Instagram works better for fashion brands. Link

Start-ups:

  • Amazon puts the call out to NYC startups. Link
  • For London’s fashion start-ups, it’s being social that counts. Link
  • Snapchat CEO: we have a plan for an IPO. Link
  • George Simmer starts an Uber for Tailors. Link

International:

  • How Target’s demise in Canada could be a gain for Lowe’s. Link
  • Michael Kors to open state of the art distribution center in Europe. Link
  • Alibaba expands logistics network to power next-day grocery deliveries in more Chinese cities. Link
  • JD.com sets its sights on connected devices. Link
  • Yahoo Japan shares climb on ecommerce alliance with Alibaba. Link
  • Walmart app adds shopping options in China. Link

Mobile/Emerging Tech:

  • New Nordstrom app lets customers text with sales reps. Link
  • Barney’s launches iphone app. Link
  • What marketers should know about Google’s mobile upgrades. Link
  • Android Pay now lets you buy things with your fingerprint. Link
  • Google Play store now lets developers A/B test their app listing pages, customize their catalog. Link
  • Swatch reaffirms plans to build smartwatch with payments features. Link
  • Target wants to offer Apple Pay but focus is on chip and pin. Link
  • Piper Jaffray names virtual reality the next mega tech theme. Link
  • Google’s other mobile payments service: hands-free at McDonald’s. Link
  • Apple buys German augmented reality company Metaio. Link
  • Facebook’s Oculus snaps up advanced virtual reality startup. Link

Misc.:

  • Mary Meeker’s internet report: user growth slowing but disruption full speed ahead. Link
  • Retailers turn to innovation labs for evolution. Link
  • Apple’s Jony Ive named chief designer, gives up day-to-day role. Link
  • Jawbone sues Fitbit citing theft of trade secrets. Link

Weekly Industry Brief: 5.18.2015

Happy Monday! Below is a recap of industry news from the last week. Sources can be found in the hyperlinked text after the headline.

Brand/Retailer:

  • Balmain is next H&M collaboration. Link
  • Exchange rates took a toll on Gap’s Q1 results. Link
  • H&M readies new beauty line. Link
  • Nordstrom outlet stores fuel growth. Link
  • Opening Ceremony signs footwear license with Aldo product services. Link
  • Net-a-porter takes on Neiman, Nordstrom and Sakes with new app. Link
  • WalMart to test an unlimited three-day shipping service that’s half the price of Amazon Prime. Link
  • Macy’s embraces a “digical” world. Link
  • Verizon to buy AOL for $4.4B. Link
  • Amazon is working with indie merchants to expand Prime inventory. Link
  • JetBlue upgrades Amazon Prime members. Link
  • Why Nordstrom is the Amazon of department stores. Link
  • Macy’s adding a touch of luxury to its platinum stores. Link
  • Old Navy thrives after a style-conscious rebirth. Link

Marketing/Social:

  • Apple may include social network for stars in its new streaming music service. Link
  • Twitter seeks path to more video bingers. Link
  • With Facebook’s instant articles, publishers may find 70 cents is better than a dollar. Link
  • Pinterest survey finds service influences purchasing decisions. Link
  • Facebook tests search engine to share links. Link
  • Taylor Swift nabs Twitter’s first celebrity custom emoji. Link
  • Lonely Planet will launch its first U.S. magazine as interest in international travel grows. Link

Start-ups:

  • Meet MikMak, the shopping app aiming to be QVC for millennials. Link
  • Decorist raises $4.5M to bring customers affordable design advice and room makeovers. Link
  • Tango offers shopping on its messaging service. Link
  • Former Lucky editor gets into tech scene with shopping app. Link
  • Carl Ichan takes $100M stake in Lyft. Link

International:

  • Apple bullish on Apple Pay in China amid talks with Alibaba. Link
  • Walmart taps Alipay to bring mobile payments to 25 China stores. Link
  • Sephora picks JD.com for China online store. Link
  • India’s largest online fashion portal Myntra goes mobile-only. Link
  • Zalora is using a pop-up shop to grow in Hong Kong. Link
  • No end in sight for Alibaba’s counterfeit problem. Link
  • Ikea to test new, smaller retail concept at new store in Ontario. Link
  • Kijiji, a flop in the U.S., rules online classifieds in Canada. Link
  • UK online fashion retailer Farfetch snaps up London’s Browns. Link

Mobile/Emerging Tech:

  • Apple buys GPS firm Coherent Navigation. Link
  • Marriott launches Concierge App, letting guests text in any request, anytime. Link
  • North Face uses virtual reality in stores. Link
  • Swatch to sell low-price watch with mobile payment functions. Link
  • Mobile shopping app Wish raised $500M at $3B valuation. Link
  • Google reportedly will add buy buttons to its mobile search results. Link
  • Amazon Echo finally lets you shop with just your voice (sort of). Link
  • Smartwatches are expected to fuel ads on wearables. Link
  • Google’s self-driving cars hit the road this summer. Link

Weekly Industry Brief: 5.4.2015

Happy Monday! I was running a race in Big Sur last week, so apologies for the silence. Below is a recap of industry news over the last couple of weeks.  Sources can be found in the hyper-linked text after the headline.

Retailer + Brand News:

  • Nordstrom tests curbside pickups for online orders. Link
  • Amazon tests package delivery to cars. Link
  • PayPal tops eBay’s marketplace in sales for the first time. Link
  • Adidas to use marine plastic waste in products from 2016. Link
  • LVMH launches new visually dynamic site design. Link
  • Kenzo revamps website. Link
  • Goodbye 50% off: deep discounts are ending. Link
  • Uber is quietly testing a massive merchant delivery program. Link
    • Uber reportedly planning merchant-delivery service with Tiffany, Louis Vuitton and other brands. Link
  • 8 ways buying luxury will change. Link
  • Amazon web services is a $5B business and it’s growing 50% a year. Link
  • Warby Parker valued at $1.2B. Link
  • Amazon expands business-sales marketplace after three years. Link
  • Amazon shares soar to all-time high on cloud surprise. Link
  • Google’s revenue hurt by rising dollar. Link
  • Lowe’s lets consumers run wild with 3D printing. Link
  • Retail’s new reality: invisible shopping centers and virtual assistants. Link
  • Yoox and Net-a-porter merger may move more luxury online. Link
  • Porter launches men’s athletic wear. Link
  • Concept shop Story to tell Dress Barn’s tale. Link
  • Why Nike and Under Armour are spending wildly to watch your every step. Link
  • Nordstrom invests in turning flagships into destinations. Link

Social Media + Marketing:

  • Facebook’s newsfeed tweak could add another ding to mobile site traffic. Link
  • Facebook Messenger accounts for 10% of global mobile VoIP. Link
  • Eva Chen exits Lucky. Link
  • Buzzfeed doesn’t care where you watch its videos. Link
  • Pinterest opens up to brands with new ways to plan posts and buy ads. Link
  • Facebook is courting small businesses again. Link
  • Refinery 29 raises $50M. Link
  • Facebook adds video calling to Messenger mobile app. Link
  • The rise of emoji on Instagram is causing language repercussions. Link
  • The new boys’ club: Retailer Instagram accounts targeting men. Link
  • Hulu wants brands to make commercials with Hulu to run on Hulu. Link
  • The latest fashion, trending on Google. Link
  • Linkedin follows Twitter, shocks social media investors. Link
  • Meerkat for iOS now lets you publish livestreams to Facebook and links to your phone contacts. Link

Start-ups:

  • First look at Uber’s co-founder’s shopping concierge “Operator”. Link
  • Beacon marketer Swirl raises $18M in funding. Link
  • Online fashion mall Lyst raises a fashionable $40M. Link
  • Loop commerce raises $16M to make gifts more personal. Link
  • Chipotle signs deal with food delivery start-up Postmates. Link
  • Rocket Internet cuts stakes in lending sites. Link

International:

  • [APAC]
    • WalMart to expand China store network by nearly a third after growth stalls. Link
    • China’s middle class propels Apple’s iPhone sales. Link
    • Japanese clothing store sports robot greeter. Link
    • Rakuten takes stake in Chinese online discount provider Fanli. Link
  • [EU]
    • Amazon hikes free delivery minimum spend to £20. Link
  • [CA]
    • Target returns, auctions off leases on most Canadian properties. Link

Mobile, Tablet, + Wearables:

  • Apple Pay to hit Best Buy stores in 2015. Link
  • Anonymous sharing app Secret shuts down. Link
  • An example of how shopping could work on the Apple Watch. Link
  • The Apple Watch can now tell you all about your local Apple Store. Link
  • Apple is testing analytics for the app store. Link
  • Android phones can now launch some apps on voice command. Link
  • Luxottica working on new version of Google Glass. Link
  • McDonald’s beacon strategy pushes in-store conversion rate to 20%. Link
  • Adidas-Spotify mobile app partnership helps music listen to runners. Link
  • Pinterest now wants developers to build apps based on all its data. Link

Other:

  • Amazon launches travel service in three major cities. Link

Making Instagram Shoppable

On every retailer’s to-do list this year is to monetizeInstagram.  The concept is a no-brainer as the visual social network gains more interaction than Twitter and Facebook.  Executing a sale from the platform, however, isn’t as easy as a quick like, specifically because there is no outbound linking from a photo.  Retailers have been struggling to figure out ways to monetize this content.  We’ve see tactics like using the product SKU as the location of the photo, using the entire product name for easier online search later, shortened URLs used in copy for easy memory, and the ever-present shop-able Instagram galleries on websites.

None of these are perfect, of course, as Instagram is after all a social platform not an ecommerce platform. But some retailers have put new solutions in place just in time for this holiday season, partnering with start-ups in an attempt to figure it out. With the insights they’ll gain this season, if not the sales, these retailers will have a solid start on their social commerce strategy.  Here are some examples:

Nordstrom:

Nordstrom Like2Buy Instagram Shopping

Innovator Nordstrom partnered with  Curalate to launch their Like2Buy service. The service is basically a shoppable web gallery (outside of Instagram) that the users have to click through from the Nordstrom profile page. The stronger selling point is the curated gallery aspect, in which you can shop only the selection of  photos you’ve liked previously.  Target and Charlotte Russe have also signed on as early launch partners.

Fox & Fawn:

Beverly Hames, an owner of Fox & Fawn, a vintage boutique in Brooklyn, says that sales arising from pictures she posts free on the store’s Instagram feed, now account for 20 to 40 percent of daily revenue.

Even boutiques and small businesses are leveraging shop-able Instagram solutions.  Vintage Brooklyn outpost Fox & Fawn utilizes vendor Soldsie to let users leave comments with a hashtag to reserve goods from a photo. Users then have to call to pay but with a more established retailer’s ecommerce site, the users could checkout online.

RewardStyle:

 

The uber popular affiliate blogger network launched LikeToKnowIt, a service that utilizes email bounce backs as the mode of shopping from a blogger’s outfit post on Instagram. Vogue was the first magazine to make its feed shoppable using this service.  They also just announced a partnership with BCBG for fashion week that will enable a shoppable runway.

 

Check out highlights from around the web:

Nordstrom Wants You to Shop on Instagram (Business Week)

Buy What You Like: You Can Now Shop Straight from Instagram (Forbes)

You Can Now Shop the Runway Just Minutes After a Show With These Chic New Apps (Glamour)

On Instagram, a Bazaar Where You Least Expect It (New York Times)

3 Startups Making Instagram Shoppable (Fashionista)

Nordstrom is smart.

They may buy Trunk Club.

It was reported this week that Nordstrom may be in talks to purchase Trunk Club, the Chicago-based men’s style start-up.  The service handpicks high-end clothing for its customers after a “getting to know you” session with a stylist.

Nordstrom is known for investing in fashion and tech start-ups.  In 2013, Nordstrom invested in gift-giving service Wantful which has since ceased operations after funding was suddenly pulled.   Nordstrom also invested in Bonobos (which recently secured $55M in new funding) and fully acquired flash sales site HauteLook.

Nordstrom seems to be committed to investing in cool, fashion x tech start-ups.  Note their apparent benefits of partnering with Forerunner Ventures, the San Francisco VC firm that invests in everything you wish you did (re: BirchBox, Serena & Lily, Warby Parker).  In addition to their well-known Bonobos relationship, Nordstrom was the first retailer to bring Wanelo into the physical store experience.

It behooves all parties involved: major retailer gets buzz and access to innovation, start-up gets support from established retailer and investment fund benefits financially from this cyclical success.

Smart.