The first edition of the Retail & Brand Experience World Congress took place in Barcelona past May, from the 27th to the 29th. Besides the agenda, the networking is always one of my favorite moments during an event. Getting to know interesting people, talk about their projects, their inspiration, build relationships, and having contact with their creative ideas.
I will share some of my highlights, which for my own surprise, are less related to the technology itself, and more focused in people’s transformation and brand content. While I have missed more sustainable initiatives, especially in a field like retail that demands new solutions to combat waste, some discoveries have really paid off.
Sustainable Innovation in Fashion
During my tour around the fair’s stands, I met Maria José Antelo and Sheila Amargos, and we had a very inspiring conversation about the Business Model of their company, PiSlow, an ecommerce fashion renting company. PiSlow is founded on the vision of rethinking the trend of “fast fashion” and establishes itself in the counter-current of unbridled consumerism. They offer clothing rental subscription which includes damage insurance, free shipping and returns, and still gives the consumers the final option of buying those products they have fallen in love at special prices.
The rental business is already a big trend in so many other sectors like vehicles, houses, home appliances and is finally becoming a trend in the fashion industry as well. Here you can find other companies with the same business model. The cool aspect of it is that it encourages people to consume less while still trying different looks and styles. As well, on the other side of the chain, provides the companies and brands a way to do not waste the items that were not sold, at the end of each collection.
The model can be an absolute contradiction for fashion companies that are driven by high-consumption behavior and focused on just growing their sales revenue by selling as much as they can. Saying that one of the main challenges for fashion renting companies is to identify brand partners that want to give this step within their businesses and find value in this collaborative economy. I would like to make a parenthesis here to say that after the Brand Innovation Panel with Seth Ellison, the CEO of Levi’s Strauss Europe, I asked him about his thoughts around the possibility of partnering with a fashion renting business, and his answer was that “this model is still unknown for them, and maybe a potential risk”. According to his perception, people prefer to own their denim jacket, but personally I think we never know until we know. I think it’s worth the bet and maybe Maria José and Sheila could show him the performance of this type of “slow fashion” model.
Putting the rental business aside, Ellison shared with the audience the turnover of the company and how they transformed the business just by re-connecting with their target, engaging with their employees and adding sustainable practices as part of their core values. Actually, one of their sustainable projects is the Levi’s Authorized Vintage & Re/Done, which I discovered after the panel doing some research around the brand – the concept is pretty similar to the fashion rental model (by the way).
The food sector requires strong efforts from all the stakeholders involved in order to implement sustainable solutions towards the reduction of waste. I was expecting more conversations around this theme and thought that the food waste issue should have been better addressed. We talked about the future of food delivery with Glovo and how there is such a growing market to be explored by restaurants with the behavior of “consuming at home”. We talked about retailers being transversal and owning their farms to sell better quality food, like Casa Ametller. And after the panel with Carrefour France I have a personal disappointment since I was expecting to know more details from its General Manager, Pascal Clouzard, about their initiative with the expert in recycling TerraCycle and other large partners liker Pepsico, Coca-Cola, Danone, Procter & Gamble, Nestlé.
The project is called Loop and the basis of it is that the brands (some of them described above) offer some of their products in reusable packaging on a special eCommerce platform designed by TerraCycle and Carrefour. Unfortunately, the project was not mentioned during the panel, but because I think bringing back the ‘milk man’ is such a great idea, I decided to share here.
Replacing Paper with Digital Media Formats
The majority of what we see in the POS (Point of Sales) it is still made of paper but soon most of the tags, labels, displays, banners, signage will be (or should be) replaced by digital formats. The concept promises a more practical way of updating daily data such as prices, promotions, campaigns, product information requiring less people to check and validate the infos. As well, the new tech format adds a layer to the POS signage, which is the possibility given to brands to engage with shoppers at the moment they are purchasing. Through digital screens and displays, brands can bring details about their products – flavor, production process, benefits. For retailers, this is a more organized way of negotiating the in-store exhibition areas with the companies while reducing printing and waste of materials.
The electronic labels improve the image of products on display and optimize processes for price management and promotions. During the event, we got the chance to meet with ASTS – a company from Catalonia – Spain. As well, the new format offers mechanisms to reduce the shrinkage and protect the margin. The shopper experience here is enhanced proportionally to the Operational and Business Intelligence Processes.
Still talking about very cool tech solutions, this other one also catches my attention, the Holographic Displays. They are customizable and offer the brands the opportunity to create sensory experiences with the products, finally converting the dwell-time into sales. They are ideal for product launches, for reaffirming brand position, for reinforcing product attributes and we can use the mixed reality solutions for retail, events and brand activations. We had a great talk with RealFiction and their sales representative in Spain.
If you got excited with the new tech tools we just mentioned above, or if you think you need a hand with your brand content and your retail strategy, let us know. Accorsi Retail is here to be your partner and together implement the plans you have for your business. Our expertise goes beyond since we also support companies in aligning their brand concept across departments and get all the different teams involved to promote the transformation you want to see.