CELEBS AND CYBER SECURITY MAKE POOR BEDFELLOWS Christmas is a high-risk period for cybercrime, but this year’s worst e-security nightmare was not in retail at all. “Despicable” was the word a Sony exec used in an email to describe Leonardo DiCaprio, whilst “minimally talented” was reserved for Angelina Jolie. Whether or not you agree, it was a major embarrassment for such a high profile entertainment brand when their internal emails were spread all over US mainstream media. The emails were leaked after Sony’s email network was hacked, also making the company’s PCs useless for several days. A cautionary tale to remember when writing a bitchy email to a colleague.
GET READY FOR MAYHEM (MONDAY) 36% of us leave Xmas shopping till 22nd December, so expectations of Mayhem Monday are high. However, according to Laithwaites UK MD, the main wine buying day is 15th December. Good to see as a nation we get our priorities right. Just use the Vivino app to make sure you are buying the right type of wine. The last day before Christmas is when we buy from local and indie shops, when the High Street rules at least for 48 hours.

HOPE BLOOMS FOR FLORIST STARTUP Small and local florists are likely to go the way of the dodo, as Urban Stems launches a ’disruptive’ new way of delivering flowers in Washington and New York. A fragrant bouquet is a great gift, but with the current network of tiny Mom-and-Pop stores, the likelihood of getting the right flowers to the right person with the right message can be a bit of a gamble. Now Urban Stems replaces them with end-to-end ownership, allowing much higher quality control. Will it wipe out the small, inefficient but much loved local stores?

A MAKEOVER TO REMEMBER Want to get a video of your makeup tutorial to refer to later, or at least the “before-and-after” photos? Makeup brand YSL Beauté is partnering with Google Glass to provide hi-tech makeup experiences in Selfridges, to help you get a stunning look for your Christmas party, and get a recording of your personalised session emailed to you later, with photos and links to products. Book now for a gift with a difference!
WATCH OUT FOR LUXURY TECH Why do we buy $4,000 Hermès handbags? Certainly not for their improved ability to carry things. Vertu, the luxury tech product company, has recognised this appetite for luxury, and is creating tech for this developing sector. Luxury Apple Watch edition coming right up! Who will win the battle for heart of the well-heeled tech enthusiast?

 AFTER POUND LAND COMES PENNY LAND Amazon’s third party software that prices down in response to competition accidentally adjusted the prices of a huge number of products to just 1p. Thousands of items sold for this ‘enticing’ price, but the merchants are now finding that Amazon has washed its hands of responsibility for the error. A Christmas gift for lawyers, as hapless retailers try to fight back.

FIND LOVE ON THE SLOPES Looking for a date whilst on your skiing trip? The Swiss, always famous for their hospitality, are now inviting visitors to Arosa to find their soulmates in a bar by downloading the iBeacon app Blinq. Once a matching person comes into the bar, you will know all about without taking your eyes off the screen showing the football. Genius.

FACEBOOK DITCHES BING Facebook has finally improved their archive search by dumping Bing (the somewhat useless Microsoft search tool) and plugging in their own search engine instead. Good for call centre people no doubt, but also turns your Facebook archive into useful, searchable storage rather than a dumb dump. Now, where was that great selfie from that new store opening?

TRUST IS GOOD (IN MODERATION) Drowning in the sea of images taken by the customers and shared around your hashtag and Facebook without the involvement of your brand? Much as we love customers to share, this needs management so that the brand message doesn’t get lost or worse, subverted. We like Photospire.co.uk, which gives brands a nifty tool to gather, edit, moderate and re-publish images that users have posted. Trust is good, but control is much better when it comes to moderation of users’ content.

TO SALE OR NOT TO SALE? That is the question as MySale.com, backed by Philip Green, found itself at the receiving end of collapsing sales in its motherland Australia. Shares are down but not out as the UK looks like a significantly better market, as shoppers stock up on winter fashion.

MOMA GOES HIGH COUTURE IN 3D Great fashion is always art, but all the more so if it is 3D printed. This 3D printed dress from Nervous Systems has been acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Check it out if you’re there for Christmas. It looks as though High Couture for 21st century has arrived.

FASHION GETS DATA SENSITIVE How do we feel about the sea of data about our intimate vital statistics floating around in cyberspace? The 3D dress that changes its look in response to the amount of data transferred around is a lovely project from the designers and data team at Behance – posing more questions than answers about data sensitivity and fashion – take a look.

SEASONS GREETINGS! Since this is the last edition of Retail Bytes before Christmas, I would like to thank you for supporting us this year, and wish you a wonderful holiday. I hope you are inspired by this selection of the finest festive cupcakes! Season Greetings to you all.