Having been away for the last two weeks at menswear trade show Pitti Uomo in Florence and advertising and innovation festival Cannes Lions in the south of France, I’ve returned to the UK to see etail giants have once again dominated the headlines.
Not content with taking on the grocery market with the acquisition of Whole Foods Market, Amazon is further upping its fashion ante with the introduction of a “try before you buy” service, alongside its own brand Amazon Find, which launched in April.
Disrupting the market has always been Amazon’s forte, and the latest two announcements – in less than a week – show that it has no plans of slowing down.
Although currently just in the grocery market, Amazon’s move into bricks-and-mortar with Whole Foods could eventually be a boon for its fashion offer, even if it is just in terms of delivery. Could Whole Foods become a pick-up destination for fashion deliveries? With hundreds of stores across the US, it takes the etailer to an entirely new offline audience. Amazon has always said it has a customer-first approach and, by moving into multiple channels, it is going wherever the customers may be.
Amazon is not the only retailer pushing the tech boundaries
The launch of its ”try before you buy” delivery service sends a bullish message out to fashion retailers. While it is currently only available in the US, you only have to look at Amazon Prime Day – where Prime members get exclusive discounts for 24 hours – to see that what starts in the US quickly heads to the UK.
However, Amazon is not the only retailer pushing the tech boundaries. This week, I attended Yoox Net-a-Porter Group’s (YNAP) launch of its new London tech hub in White City. A base for 500 employees, the hub will be a place to experiment and implement technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and mobile innovation to provide a more personalised experience for the YNAP customer.
Internally, YNAP has also launched a mobile transformation programme, giving every employee an iPhone that integrates with business systems. Speaking at the launch event, CEO Federico Marchetti highlighted the importance of employees and customers mirroring each other in the business’s mobile-first approach, as he expects most sales to come from mobile by 2020.
It is a really impressive space and as Marchetti said himself: “The launch of Yoox was a game changer. We are still here to change the game”.