RETAIL TECH INNOVATION: FROM GUCCI TO EMOJIS

From Kate Spade to Gucci, this week’s [retail bytes] explore which innovative brands and products are winning in the digital arena.

Innovation starts with an emoji URL: Love emoji-lingo? You can register a domain that’s accessible via typing a two pints and a fag emoji to help mobile-first customers find your online craft beer shop. And GoDaddy has just released a search engine where you can type the emoji address in and be directed to the right place. Watch this space for the burst of creativity as emojis, the new lingua franca of the Internet, take over webshop addressing.

Your watch is at your orders: For some, not emoji-typing but a human voice is the best way to get those pesky wearable computers to do what you want them to do. The Alexa Voice Activation service from Amazon is used on this new smartwatch, which listens to your spoken wishes. My kids do that already on Siri, while their parents’ generation still feels a bit daft speaking to a black plastic box. However, voice UX is the future and the AVS service will be landing in UK in early 2017, bringing the voice service to wearables of your choice.

Indie kebabs on the go: Hungry and on the road? If you fancy a bite from a bigger chain like Domino’s, they will have an app that lets you order by simply pressing the Buy button. Alas, many smaller food indies can’t splash £25-50k on such an app. To give them a helping hand, Google has developed a ‘place the order’ button that will appear on Google Maps on the page of your favourite local kebab joint. Levelling out the playing field against big food brands is a step in the right direction – as we all know in the food business, “small is beautiful”.

Gucci does it better: In the luxury market, mobile is making inroads both in the hands of store associates and consumers. Gucci, one of the first brands to use an employee app back in 2012, has every member of staff on the shop floor ready to serve the customer, help choose items and take payments in person. Customers seem to prefer that to schlepping to the cash till at the other end of the store, and the brand has just reported a 1.5% margin increase in the quarter when nearly all other luxury brands are taking a beating.

The Gucci shoppable app is also a total delight, developed under the watchful eye of Creative Director Alessandro Michele and improved month-on-month with new features, weekly updates, streams of live fashion shows and a special look book. Alessandro’s strategy shows what we always knew was the case with any retail tech – start early, iterate and improve to foster a solid advantage in customer omni-channel service. Kudos.

Taggable and shoppable fashion? We’re in: Mobile-first fashionistas will rejoice at Instagram bringing a simple way to get from the app to the webshop of the retailer you like. Many expected Instagram to move into a fully enabled shopping platform, but that does not seem to be on the cards. Instagram execs don’t want to get their hands dirty with retail or live off commissions. For now, the fashion brands will be able to test ‘taggable’ (sorry, it actually IS a word) and ‘buyable’ product photos. The new feature is piloted with Kate Spade, and will be made available to all brands in time for Valentine’s Day. Let’s play tag!

Xmas pressies tip of the week: What do you get for a kid who has everything? In our top Xmas present idea of the week we nominate Bionic Bird. Watch the video here to see this bird-like drone that simply blends with nature and doesn’t frighten other birds and animals. Funded by an ultra-successful Indiegogo, the Bird is now shipping for a very affordable price. Get it here: it’s drone-poetry in motion.