BOTS AND BOOTHS – ONLINE SHOPS ARE A-CHANGING

New sexy pop-ups, new payment methods and interesting initiatives to back up –
all in this week’s [retail bytes]!

Beauty and the beast as tech makes its way into L’Oreal: Can your skincare be provided by a lovely bot with a French name and accent? L’Oreal thinks so and revealed a funding deal for 5 new cosmetic tech start-ups. Our hot favourite was NailBot, a neat nail app that prints unique art, emoji, pictures and your designs directly onto your fingernail from your phone in less than 5 seconds. Nail art is one of the fastest growing retail sectors so no wonder L’Oreal wants to get their hands on innovation before competitors do. The close runner-up in the funding battle was Veleza, which can link you to a beauty specialist in real time in case your pre-party beauty routine needs an express refresh. LipstickBot advice emergency?

Bots doing the payment fancy footwork: Diving head first into the bots’ eco-system, PayPal is launching a bot for peer-to-peer payments on Slack (the teamwork app of choice for millennials). Using shortcode PayPal and a Slack handle you can now send money for a Valentine’s Day gift to the redhead from accounts via the company’s own cloud-based work software. Ace. PayPal’s paybot is joining an army of 900 bots on Slack and may become the new platform for gifting to colleagues. Kudos for launching in time for Valentine’s!

How to cut Ikea queues? Amazon is in a race to figure out how to run staff-less retail. Their new (secret) concept store is laid out on two floors, with robots picking goods for customers on the top floor and customers picking their own products on the ground floor. The trick is the payment – you simply pick the product and scan it for more info then, to pay, you drop it into the basket, e voilà, you are ready to leave the store. Considering the torturous queues in Ikea, DIY stores should waste no time and implement it!

Pop-ups: Bluebella @ Boxpark (London): The idea of shopping and lugging around all your bags as trophies is not appealing to millennial shoppers. Boxpark in East London is hosting Bluebella Lingerie, where you can touch the product, try it on and then order from Bluebella.com for next-day home delivery. No-stock shops are the future in London and big cities everywhere, as removing the need for stockrooms helps considerably cut down the total size of the store needed. Customers win as smaller stores can fit on their local high street. In these times of Brexit uncertainty (and devastating increases in London’s business rates), small is simply beautiful so mini stores are the way forward. Pop in to Boxpark and see for yourself!

There’s a new e-payment leader in town: New kid on the block Amazon Pay has been quietly rolling out to UK online stores, in an attempt to kick PayPal off the hot seat as the online payment leader. Using Amazon Pay cuts the number of steps in the checkout process, a real blessing for mobile users. For now, the Amazon Pay data is kept separately from the Amazon Shopping division to avoid potentially unfair data-sharing but competitors should beware. We think Amazon Pay, and not Apple Pay, may turn out to be the killer payment app.

Booth it or lose it: Got a car? Jaguar and John Lewis have teamed up to provide a new delivery service, straight to your car booth. Simply order your parcel online and choose the ‘carbooth’ option from the delivery menu. Then a special code to unlock the booth will be sent to your courier as well as the car’s location, so your package can be delivered directly to where your car is parked. What could possibly go wrong?

Funding funding funding: Are you the next Dyson or Conran? Look no more. The British Design Council has teamed up with John Mathers, ex-CEO of the British Design Council, and superstar entrepreneur Damon Bonser to create a fund backing UK-based design talent – for now it’s called the British Design Fund. All you need to do to dazzle the potential investors is come up with eye-popping, ground-breaking, Earth-shattering innovative design. You can get in touch with us for advice on how to develop your funding requests. A free advice session at the Fashion Retail Academy will be offered for the five best submissions – deadline 15th March. Share the news with your talented colleagues or friends who struggle to get funding but run a design-led UK-based business. Got to be in it to win it! Just email eva@theretailpractice.com.