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 http://www.alluresystems.com reduces cost of visual production for e-commerce. Here you'll find compilation of information related  to photo for eretailers, brands and ecommerce catalogues.
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Can Technology Solve the Fit Problem in Fashion E-Commerce?

According to studies, between twenty to forty percent of all clothing purchased online is returned, often due to issues with fit, costing fashion e-tailers millions. A host of tech start-ups are aiming to solve the problem. But is a technical solution the most effective approach?
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Super article about the Technology attempts to solve the fit prb: key info: Fit guidance solutions can also be costly and frictionful to implement and operate. Metail partners with companies like Dafiti in Brazil and Warehouse in the UK to photograph clothing and render outfits in a realistic way on its virtual mannequins. But this process currently costs retail partners £9 (about $15) per garment (the company is working on reducing this number to £3 per garment).
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Super article about the Technology attempts to solve the fit prb: key info: Fit guidance solutions can also be costly and frictionful to implement and operate. Metail partners with companies like Dafiti in Brazil and Warehouse in the UK to photograph clothing and render outfits in a realistic way on its virtual mannequins. But this process currently costs retail partners £9 (about $15) per garment (the company is working on reducing this number to £3 per garment).
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Instagram Introduces Shoppable Product Tags

The social media app has introduced shoppable tags that allow brands to tag the products in their photos, the way users can tag their friends.
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MENLO PARK, United States — For a week in May, some of Instagram's designers, engineers and product managers met not at the company's Menlo Park, California, headquarters but at a rented house, stocked with grocery store snacks. There, away from computers and armed with pencil and paper, they explored a question important for the photo-sharing app's future: how do we get our users to shop? In particular, they wanted to figure out how to introduce shopping tools without making them so obvious that they would transform the app into a splashy catalog. Together they came up with 150 ideas. After an extensive process of elimination, the team settled on the design being unveiled this week: letting brands tag products in their photos, the way users tag their friends. Tap on the tagging descriptions to get more information, tap again to buy on the retailer's site. It's the first test from Facebook Inc.'s Instagram to kick off a broader strategy for helping people pick out and buy things, according to James Quarles, Instagram's vice president of monetisation. The team will gather data from users' behaviour to figure out what to do next. Maybe they'll add a way to comparison shop, a way to search for products elsewhere on the app or even a Pinterest-like feature to save posts that inspire, he said. "We are so well-positioned in this space," Quarles said. "Instagram is super visual, we have a well-defined graph of your interests based on what you're following, and the serendipity of discovery happens every day through the ad products and who you follow." People have long been shopping on Instagram without a formal way to buy things. A crop of influencers on the photo app push fashions into popularity. Company researchers have noticed that users take screenshots of products they love, or direct-message them to themselves. But, like the design team's caution suggests, making shopping an actual app feature is a risky proposition. The main problem: shopping hasn't worked well in social media. Facebook's history is peppered with discontinued e-commerce products, like birthday gifts for friends and "Facebook credits," which was a virtual currency for social games. The company recently introduced a Marketplace product that allows people to buy and sell to each other, but its launch was quickly marred when users started posting ads for drugs, sex and exotic animals. Twitter tested a "buy button" for more than a year, but the project faded and the head of e-commerce departed. Pinterest made a bigger investment in shopping, allowing direct buying on its site from thousands of retailers, but it's still unclear how popular the tool is with consumers. Quarles said Instagram aims to learn from all these experiences—especially from its parent company, Facebook, which has shared its notes. Instagram already lets retailers promote products in ads, but the shopping update would apply to regular posts, making it a more natural experience for users. The app's e-commerce ambitions are large—including international expansion and a video version of the product—but they're starting small. It's testing its new feature with just 20 brands, including Kate Spade and Warby Parker, and not taking any cut of the proceeds. For J. Crew, which is one of the test brands, Instagram's product fills a gap in mobile shopping. For one, it's image-based, which makes it much more amenable to inspiring people to buy products than Facebook, according to Jenna Lyons, J. Crew's president and creative director. It has the opportunity to take a customer from the point they're interested in a product to actually making a purchase. It's happening in the real world already, she said. "It's been a little frustrating to us in the past to not be able to have people purchase on Instagram," Lyons said. "Not only has it become a place for people to get influenced by their friends, but they're walking into our stores with their phones and saying, 'do you have this?'" She is hoping the test will show that Instagram's method is subtle enough to not turn people away, but powerful enough to drive people to J. Crew's site. "I really hope it works," Lyons said. By Sarah Frier; editor: Andrew Pollack.
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Israeli fashion startup Zeekit raises $9 million Series A

Israeli fashion startup Zeekit raises $9 million Series A | Photo for eCommerce by Allure Systems | Scoop.it
What can 3D mapping technology for the Israeli Air Force do for fashion? This Israeli startup could change the way we shop for clothes
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Sept 16 2016 -  Fashion tech startup Zeekit announced today the close of their Series A funding round, bringing in $9 million in new capital. According to reports, the funding was led by a number of angel investors along with influential brands in the American film, media, and lifestyle industry. Zeekit took advantage of New York’s Fashion Week to announce their launch and the funding, with participation from fashion brand Rebecca Minkoff. The company has also been making moves for partnerships with media brands in the fashion industry, releasing that they will be collaborating with StyleWatch magazine to allow readers to “try on” 180 different items from the Fall Trend Report issue. Co-founded in 2013 by Yael Vizel, Alon Kristal, and Nir Appleboim, Zeekit’s B2C service allows users to essentially try on items of clothing before they buy. Their app uses image processing technology to put layered images of the clothing item over the user’s body, taking into account factors like their body dimensions, figure, and the kind of fabric it is made out of.
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Decoding Amazon's Fashion Ambitions

Getting consumers to buy luxury products on Amazon.com is just one small piece of a much wider strategy to disrupt the fashion industry like never before.
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1. At Amazon we like things to work in five to seven years. We’re willing to plant seeds, let them grow.
2. The shift in power from companies that control distribution to companies that excel at aggregating customers: "“No longer do distributors compete based upon exclusive supplier relationships, with consumers/users an afterthought. Instead, suppliers can be aggregated at scale leaving consumers/users as a first order priority. By extension, this means that the most important factor determining success is the user experience: the best distributors/aggregators/market-makers win by providing the best experience, which earns them the most consumers/users, which attracts the most suppliers, which enhances the user experience in a virtuous cycle.” Showrooming has devastated the consumer technology market, where stores like Best Buy and Circuit City struggled to match Amazon on price and convenience. When Amazon introduced Prime, for example, which offers free 2-day shipping and returns on millions of products, customers happily transferred their business to the site, thus driving the company’s “virtuous cycle.
3. A recent study by Boomerang Commerce found that Amazon changed the prices of its products 9.2 times on average, compared to Macy’s and Kohl's adjusting prices 2.1 times and 1.5 times, respectively.
4. Fashion ‘Cool’ vs Technology ‘Cool’: Coolness in the fashion industry is based on experiences, feelings, emotions and aesthetics. Coolness for Amazon, and the technology industry more broadly, is based on building, learning and scaling quickly.
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Vente en ligne : la performance des mannequins virtuels en question

Vente en ligne : la performance des mannequins virtuels en question | Photo for eCommerce by Allure Systems | Scoop.it
Alors que pour les internautes, l'impossibilité d'essayer des vêtements demeure un frein majeur à l'achat en ligne, les grandes enseignes rivalisent de technologies pour pallier ce problème, notamment en proposant un mannequin, standard ou personnalisé. D'après Aurélie Merle, professeur à Grenoble Ecole de Management, qui a mené une étude sur le sujet en collaboration avec des chercheurs canadiens, ces mannequins virtuels façonnés à notre image ne sont pas aussi efficaces qu'il n'y paraît ! La perception et l'estime qu'ont les e-shoppeuses de leur propre corps seraient un frein à cette performance. Résultats d'une étude à contre-courant.
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Amazon is developing a 3D modeling system to solve online clothes shopping’s biggest problem

Amazon is developing a 3D modeling system to solve online clothes shopping’s biggest problem | Photo for eCommerce by Allure Systems | Scoop.it
Issues with the fit of clothing are among the top reasons customers return clothes and footwear bought online, and it's a costly problem for retailers. A 2015 report by IHL, a retail research firm, estimated that retailers worldwide lose billions each year from returns due to wrong sizing. As Amazon grows into the largest clothing retailer in the US, the number of return
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Amazon quietly acquired it last year, and appears to be continuing to develop its system, though filing for a patent doesn’t guarantee that a product will be developed or used. We’ve reached out to Amazon for comment and will update this story with any new information. Both the original patent and Amazon’s continuation say the system could also be used to create models of “jeans, pants, shirts, bras, hats and headwear, handbags” and other items. To measure every product Amazon sells, or even just a large portion of them, would require a huge amount of effort, but is something Amazon is arguably well-equipped to tackle. In 2015, for instance, it opened a 46,000 square-foot photography studio in London to shoot some 500,000 images of clothing a year, as part of its focus on increasing fashion sales.
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Vision Quest: 3 Technologies Shaping the Future of Fashion

LONDON, United Kingdom — From industrial looms to e-commerce, new technologies have remade the fashion world again and again. But oftentimes, new tech-driven innovations take too long to gain acceptance in this famously insular industry rooted in — and yet resistant to — change. Fashion entrepreneurs who see the future before others have in the past faced ridicule, as was the case with some of the earliest pioneers of e-commerce, now the source of nearly all luxury market growth. And yet, as the pace of change intensifies and global epicentres of technology innovation, like Silicon Valley, take on a veneer of cool, fashion has become more open to innovation — at least on the surface. And herein lies the industry’s Achilles heel when it comes to technology. Too often, this cyclical, fast-moving sector, dominated by a trend-driven mindset, engages with new technologies on only a superficial level — as if they were new fads — before moving onto ‘the next big thing.’ From a certain vantage point, buzzy new technologies can appear to take off quickly. But for close observers who look beyond the buzz, their potential impact on consumer markets can often be grasped many years before, presenting companies that anticipate change with a tremendous advantage over competitors. Indeed, which senior fashion executive wouldn’t have liked to know over a decade ago, when Facebook was first founded by Mark Zuckerberg, the incredible impact social media would have on the industry? This year, as we look into the future, three emerging technologies have the potential to reshape the way the industry does business, though their full effects may not be felt for cycles to come. MESSAGING’S PLATFORM REVOLUTION Messaging is set to blow past social media as the dominant online media activity, according to recent data presented by Michael J. Wolf, founder and CEO of technology and strategy consulting firm Activate. Already, about 2.5 billion people use messaging apps (a number that’s set to hit 3.6 billion by 2018). WhatsApp alone has a user base of over 800 million, while Facebook’s Messenger and Tencent’s WeChat have attracted over 800 million and one billion users per month, respectively. Everlane's website, with Facebook's Messenger app integration | Source: Courtesy Facebook's Messenger integration | Source: Courtesy But messaging technologies aren’t just expanding in scale. Much more than tools for free, instant exchanges with friends and colleagues, messaging apps are building platform layers to support new first- and third-party services, transforming them into hubs for everything from consuming content and playing games, to interacting and transacting with brands. Indeed, much of what users currently do on the web or with separate native apps — from buying a dress, to calling Uber, to personal banking — may soon be done in messaging apps, facilitated by sophisticated software-driven bots, which can complement interactions with human customer service agents. According to David Marcus, Facebook’s head of Messenger, luxury brands are well placed to capitalise as their customers have a “strong affinity” with their favourite brands, making them more open to interact with them on messaging apps “where the brand is basically at the same level as all of your friends and your family, people that are nearest to you that you connect with every day.” This kind of intimacy is incredibly powerful, enabling personal communication threads between brands and consumers that can be leveraged for “anything and everything you want,” said Marcus, pointing to a range of possibilities from personalised content distribution, to instant, seamless customer service exchanges. “It becomes this space that will exist for your lifetime as a relationship between the customer and the business, so the business always has context as to all of the previous interactions,” added Marcus. Facebook’s Business for Messenger, which enables these kinds of exchanges, launched in the US last year and is set to roll out in Europe later this year. But to best leverage the possibilities these platforms permit and deliver innovative new services for top clients, luxury companies must find ways to better integrate their marketing, VIP services and digital teams, which are often siloed across the organisation. 3D-PRINTED CUSTOM GOODS From sunglasses to bag handles, many fashion accessories and their constituent parts are made using traditional industrial moulds. These rigid, hollowed blocks are filled with a range of liquefied materials — like plastic, glass and metal — which harden, adopting the shape of the mould. Once created, moulds can be used to cost-effectively manufacture large runs of identical products. But because traditional moulds often cost thousands of dollars to make, they are less useful for limited-run or individualised products. A 3D-printed look by Noa Raviv, created using a Stratasys printer | Source: Stratasys A 3D-printed look by Noa Raviv | Source: Stratasys On the other hand, using computer-controlled ‘additive’ manufacturing techniques, like 3D printing, producers can ‘print’ objects in layers, from the ground up, based on digital designs. Because there is no upfront investment in traditional moulds, using these techniques, the per item cost of producing one of something is the same as the per item cost of producing 10,000, radically lowering barriers to entry for start-ups that manufacture in small quantities and making customised products much more cost-effective to produce. And while at high volumes, these tools are not as cheap as traditional mass production techniques, like injection moulding, they are becoming better and cheaper over time. Indeed, fuelled by the expiration of patents on key techniques and lower prices for raw materials, the cost of 3D printing consumer products is falling significantly, and will result in a 50 percent drop in the cost of the average 3D-printed object between 2013 and 2018, according to Christian Hartung, CEO of VOJD Studios, a Berlin-based fashion jewellery label that harnesses 3D printing and has worked with Prabal Gurung, Akris and A.F. Vandevorst for Spring/Summer 2016. Sportswear giants have been amongst the first to leverage 3D printing to create customised consumer products at scale. Nike, for example, has been experimenting with 3D-printed football boots, custom-made to individual feet, while Adidas, Reebok and New Balance have all unveiled their own 3D-printed models. But recent advances in finishing techniques mean 3D printing can now be used to create objects with the kind of smooth, polished surfaces more suitable to luxury fashion goods. To become a practical means of manufacturing individualised, store-ready luxury products, however, the next generation of 3D printers must be able to better mix materials and finishes (currently, these types of machines are very rare and expensive). “At the moment, this is happening, but at the research level,” says Amanda Parkes, chief of technology and research at hybrid fashion incubator Manufacture New York. VIRTUAL REALITY MARKETING Virtual Reality has long been the preserve of science fiction. Now, VR — a multi-media experience that immerses users in virtual environments — is finally coming to the consumer market. To be clear, VR is still far from mass adoption. Last year, Samsung, HTC and Google launched their first consumer virtual reality experiences. But market research firm CSS Insight estimates that only 2.5 million VR headsets and augmented reality glasses were sold by the end of 2015. Yet Mark Zuckerberg — founder of Facebook, which acquired virtual reality startup Oculus Rift in March 2014 for $2 billion — aims to sell 50 to 100 million of the company’s head-mounted virtual reality displays in the next decade. Some believe this could radically transform the way people consume content, giving birth to new virtual reality marketing experiences. Buzzy new technologies can appear to take off quickly. But for close observers who look beyond the buzz, their potential impact on consumer markets can often be grasped many years before, presenting companies that anticipate change with a tremendous advantages over competitors. Even today, 13.3 percent of consumers make a transaction or sign up to communications from a brand while viewing VR content, compared to 5 percent for non-VR experiences, according to Abi Mandelbaum, chief executive officer of virtual reality tour platform YouVisit. Meanwhile, Matteo Caraccia, managing director of Big Sky Studios, which is producing a VR marketing campaign for UK department store Selfridges, sees an opportunity in what he dubs “v-commerce,” allowing consumers to shop from home, using a VR headset to “actually see the item they’re buying; you can walk around the item, lift it up.” For fashion brands, which depend on selling not only products but also a dream, VR holds particular promise and a number of companies have been experimenting with the technology. The North Face and 7 For All Mankind have both created VR-enabled films, while Dior and Tommy Hilfiger have installed headsets in stores, which transport headset-wearing shoppers in pre-recorded catwalk shows. “In stores, you have to bring the customer newness and not just show clothes on the rack and wait until they buy,” says Daniel Grieder, chief executive officer of Tommy Hilfiger. “This is something customers will talk about.” But for the moment, most of these initiatives trade heavily on the sheer novelty of the technology to generate positive PR, rather than the power of the content. “Reality hits when people get bored of the platform itself and the quality of the content becomes the compelling thing,” says Adam Powers, chief experience officer at advertising agency BBH. “There’s an awful lot of crap out there.” Editor’s Note: This article was revised on 24 February, 2016. An earlier version of this article misstated that Facebook's Business for Messenger will roll out later this year. This is incorrect. Business for Messenger launched in the US last year and is set to roll out in Europe later this year. This article appears in BoF's special print edition, The New World Order. To order copies for delivery anywhere in the world or to locate a stockist, visit shop.businessoffashion.com.

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Amazon célèbre l'individualité vestimentaire

Amazon célèbre l'individualité vestimentaire | Photo for eCommerce by Allure Systems | Scoop.it
Actualité médias : Amazon Fashion vise à encourager les internautes à se sentir bien dans leurs corps et leurs choix vestimentaires avec une nouvelle campagne intitulée #SaySomethingNice (Dites quelque chose de gentil), sur les réseaux sociaux. (#707425)
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Alors que le harcèlement et les moqueries sont désormais la norme sur les réseaux sociaux, le site de ventes en ligne encourage ses clients à être moins catégoriques envers les choix vestimentaires et à célébrer l'individualité. Cette campagne comprend une série de films dans lesquels des femmes d'influence de la mode, telles que Susie Bubble, Hana Tajima, Freddie Harrel, Camille Charrière et Clémentine Desseaux, prennent la parole. Elles expliquent notamment avoir reçu de nombreux commentaires négatifs en ligne ou avoir été témoin de dénigrement de l'apparence d'autres personnes sur les réseaux. Pour propager la bonne parole, les blogueuses utiliseront le hashtag #SaySomethingNice histoire d'inverser la tendance et dispenser des compliments sur les réseaux sociaux. De nombreux internautes ont pris l'habitude, ces dernières années, de partager leurs tenues du jour (Outfit Of The Day) via le hashtag #OOTD. Mais Siobhan Mallen, directrice de contenu pour Amazon Fashion Europe, explique : « Malheureusement, critiquer et ridiculiser les personnes du fait de ce qu'elles portent devient aussi de plus en plus habituel, 55 % des femmes pensent avoir déjà été mal jugée sur les réseaux sociaux à propos de leurs choix vestimentaires ». Elle poursuit : « Notre campagne #SaySomethingNice vise à encourager tout le monde à contester ce comportement pour défendre le droit de tout un chacun à porter ce qui le rend heureux sans avoir peur du ridicule ou des commentaires négatifs. » Les clips de la campagne #SaySomethingNice sont déjà visibles sur les comptes YouTube, Facebook et Instagram de Amazon Fashion Europe. Un exemple de vidéo ici : https://youtu.be/ERl05YpPIRo.
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Picture this: web design is no longer 95% typography

Picture this: web design is no longer 95% typography | Photo for eCommerce by Allure Systems | Scoop.it
A decade and a half ago Jakob Nielsen announced to the world that people don’t actually read websites in a linear way. Instead, they prefer to skim read, scanning the page to find what they’re looking for.
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Researchers: What Is the Value of Imagery in Marketing?

Researchers: What Is the Value of Imagery in Marketing? | Photo for eCommerce by Allure Systems | Scoop.it
A group of scholars show why what you see isn’t always what you get.
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It seems like common sense: If you’re selling a product online, the more photographs of the product that you show to shoppers, the more likely they are to buy it. After all, a picture is said to be worth a thousand words, so wouldn’t seven pictures be worth a lot more?

Not necessarily. It turns out that when shoppers look at multiple images of two competing products, differences blur, and the items start to look alike. That’s because seeing multiple pictures of the same products actually changes how consumers see things, altering their visual processing style, according to new research by Stanford Graduate School of Business Professor Baba Shiv and two colleagues. You might say we sometimes see a forest and other times we see the trees, depending on our visual processing style at the moment.

The research was inspired by a visit one of Shiv’s co-researchers made to Zappos, a popular online shopping site. Jayson Jia of the University of Hong Kong noticed that “the more I looked at shoes from different angles, the more they seemed alike.”

Why is this?

There are two visual processing styles — a big-picture style called gestalt processing and a detail-oriented style called component processing.

Broadly speaking, there are two visual processing styles — a detail-oriented style called component processing and a big-picture style called gestalt processing. If someone looks at a painting and focuses on a single detail such as the buttons on a coat, that is component visual processing. If someone looks at a painting and sees the overall scene, that is gestalt visual processing.

This gestalt view is important because one cannot recognize objects without perceiving the whole. For example, one can see that two faces are similar (or different) without having noticed the color of the eyes or the shape of the nose, while the inverse is not true.

Similarly, when consumers look at a product such as a pair of sunglasses, they are likely to base their decision on the overall style and appearance of the glasses — gestalt processing. But component processing, which focuses on details, is more common when buyers purchase products such as a smartphone.

This has important implications for marketing. The researchers found that while companies often offer multiple views of their products for online shoppers, doing so can actually make it harder for consumers to distinguish between the products. That’s because showing shoppers more pictures of products can change their visual processing style and make it harder to distinguish one product from another.

To understand this better, the researchers tried to re-create the online shopping experience by presenting pictures to participants.

In the study, one group was shown a single photo of each product — in this case, two brands of shoes — and another group was shown multiple different photographs of each product. The basic setup is similar to shopping online where you can either see a single “main picture” of each product, or click on the “additional views” option to view more pictures of each product, taken from different angles or in different colors.

Seeing multiple views did not make one product seem more attractive than the other. It made them both less attractive.
Baba Shiv

Interestingly, the members of the group who saw the most different views of the products found them to be less distinctive and less attractive than the people who saw only a few photos or saw the same photos repeated multiple times.

The researchers called this effect “product agnosia,” a term based on the Greek word for “not knowing” or “without knowledge.” In other words, seeing the new information led people to forget differences they otherwise would have retained. That’s because they focused on a single detail, as in the laces, rather than the gestalt, or overall product. By contrast, the group members who saw fewer pictures were more likely to recall which product they liked better; product agnosia did not occur.

“When we see one picture, we usually focus on the big-picture aspects like style and the overall look of the product,” the researchers explained. “For the many products that are distinguished by big-picture elements such as style or design or brand, a change in visual processing style to a component level moves our focus away from the aspects that distinguished those products in the first place.”

Online shopping | Associated Press/Tony Avelar

What’s a marketer to do with this information? One option, the researchers discovered, is to encourage shoppers to delay their purchases for a bit. Placing an item like these shoes in a virtual shopping cart and returning to the website later makes a significant difference, they found.

Test participants who delayed purchases tended to remember the differences between the products even though they had been exposed to multiple views of them. That’s because recalling a product from memory triggers gestalt-style processing, which in turn reverses product agnosia. In other words, products that depend on consumers viewing the overall style such as shoes or sunglasses benefit from viewers seeing the big picture instead of focusing on a single detail.

However, not every type of product falls victim to product agnosia. This seems particularly true for products in which consumers seek many specific details. At first glance, touch-screen smartphones, for example, don’t appear very different from each other because they have relatively similar overall designs.

But shoppers are looking beyond the obvious and therefore examine images of smartphones through component processing. They pay attention to details such as button location, camera placement, and whether the operating system appears to be Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android.

As a result, it didn’t matter how many views of the phones they saw. They were able to distinguish one phone from the other and choose which one they would like to buy. In this case, product agnosia simply disappeared.

Overall, this research shows that the intuition of “showing more is better” may not be true. Shiv says the marketer’s instinct to highlight differences by offering more visual impressions can backfire. “When product agnosia occurs, looking at more can lead to seeing less if it changes how we look at things,” he says.

If buying decisions are affected so heavily by visual processing, isn’t it critical for marketers to know which products are subject to product agnosia? “Savvy marketers,” says Shiv, “already know how two products are differentiated.” But they need to carefully evaluate their methods of displaying products. “Talk to real shoppers; understand what they bought and how they made their purchase decisions,” he says. “And then adjust your selling strategy.”

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La nouvelle égérie de LVMH n'existe pas

La nouvelle égérie de LVMH n'existe pas | Photo for eCommerce by Allure Systems | Scoop.it
En remplaçant ses traditionnelles mannequins maigrichonnes par l’héroïne d’un jeu vidéo iconique, la campagne Series 4 de Louis Vuitton surprend.
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10 Must Know Image Optimization Tips – Shopify

10 Must Know Image Optimization Tips – Shopify | Photo for eCommerce by Allure Systems | Scoop.it
10 PRO image optimization tips for ecommerce online sellers. Optimize your product images and photography to maximize traffic and sales.

If you run an online store, image optimization is an art that you want to master. From attracting shoppers perusing Google images to reducing site load time - image optimization can be an important part of building a successful ecommerce business. 

Have you ever stayed up at night wondering:

Why is it that when I do a Google image search, my product photos never show up?Do I need to add "Alt Tags" to my images?What's the difference between a JPEG, GIF and PNG - should I use one over another?

In this post I'm going to answer those questions and more. Prepare yourself for a deep dive into 10 "must-know" image optimization tips:

Bonus Guide: Get "How to Capture High Quality Product Photos With Your SmartPhone" - a free, step-by-step guide that shows you exactly which tools and apps you'll need. Get the guide.

1. Name Your Images Descriptively and in Plain English

It's really easy to blast through hundreds of product shots and keep the default file name your camera gives them. But before you keep that habit, let's discuss why that's not a good idea.

When it comes to SEO, it's important to use acceptable keywords to help your webpage rank on search engines. Creating descriptive, keyword-rich file names is absolutely crucial for image optimization. Search engines not only crawl the text on your webpage, but they also search for keywords within your image file names.

Let's use this image as an example:

You could use the generic name that your camera gave to the image such as DCMIMAGE10.jpg. However, it would be much better to name the file: 2012-Ford-Mustang-LX-Red.jpg

Also think about how your customers search for products on your website. What naming patterns do they use when they search? In the example above, car shoppers may search using the terms:

2012 Red Ford Mustang LXFord Mustang LX Red 2012Red Ford Mustang LX 2012

A good habit to get into is to look at your website analytics, and see what phrasing patterns your customers use to perform searches. Determine the most common naming patterns they use, and apply that formula to your image naming process.

If you are not going to get that detailed, just be sure to use good keywords when naming your images (and try to be descriptive!).

Check out this Q&A from seomoz.org to understand the importance of naming files for the images on your website. It can definitely increase your on-page SEO, and help your website and images rank highly.

2. Optimize Your Alt Tags Intelligently

Alt tags are a text alternative to images when a browser can't properly render them. Even when the image is rendered, if you hover over it with your mouse pointer, you can see the alt tag text created for that image (depending on your browser settings).

The alt attribute also adds SEO value to your website. Adding appropriate alt tags to the images on your website can help your website achieve better rankings in the search engines by associating keywords with images. As a matter of fact, using alt tags is probably the best way for your ecommerce products to show up in Google image and web search.

Let's take a look at the source code of an alt tag:

The #1 priority when it comes to image optimization is to fill out each alt tag for every product image on your site.

Here are some simple rules when it comes to alt tags:Describe your images in plain English, just like you do for image file names.If you sell products that have model number or serial numbers, use them in your alt tag.Do not keyword stuff your alt tags (for example: alt="ford mustang muscle car buy now cheap best price on sale").Don't use alt tags for decorative images. Search engines may penalize you for over-optimization.

Finally, always do a sanity check of your website from time to time. View the source of your webpages and check to see if your alt tags are filled out.

3. Strategize Your Image Dimensions and Product Angles

One common trend these days is to show multiple angles of your product. Going back to the Ford Mustang example, you wouldn't want to show just one shot of the car - especially if you're trying to sell it. It would be in your best interest to show shots of:

The interior.The rear, especially that air spoiler.Close ups of the wheel rims.Underneath the hood... it is a Mustang after all.

And the best way to capitalize on these extra photos is to fill out your alt tags. And the way you would do that is by creating unique alt tags for each product shot:

2012-Ford-Mustang-LX-Red-Leather-Interior-Trim.jpg -> using the alt tag of: alt = " 2012 Ford Mustang LX Red Leather Interior Trim "2012-Ford-Mustang-LX-Red-Rear-View-Air-Spoiler.jpg -> using the alt tag of: alt = " 2012 Ford Mustang LX Red Rear View Air Spoiler "

The key here is to add descriptions to your base alt tag so that potential searchers land on your website. If you do the extra work, Google will reward you with hungry searchers.

A Word of Caution About Providing Larger Images

Now you might want to provide larger views for your visitors, which is a great user experience enhancement - just be careful.

Whatever you do, don't place the largest image on your webpage and simply shrink the dimensions via the source code. This will increase your page load time because of the larger file size associated with the large image.

Instead, make it a smaller image and provide the option to view a larger image in a pop-up or to be displayed on a separate webpage.

4. Reduce the File Sizes of Your Images

Consider this:

Most consumers wait about 3 seconds for a website to load on a desktop or laptop....and about 5 seconds on their mobile device.Amazon found that if their pages slow down by 1 second, they lose $1.6 billion a year.Google uses page load time as a factor in their ranking algorithm.

If you have images that slowly "drool" down the screen and take over 15 seconds to load - well, you can count that prospective customer goodbye!

So What Do You Do?

When a customer goes to your site, it can take a while depending on how large your files are. Specifically with images, the larger the file size the longer it takes a webpage to load. *Shopify merchants should note that we automatically compress images, so this shouldn't be an issue for you.

If you can decrease the size of the image files on your webpage and increase pageload speed, less people who visit your site will click away.

One way you can reduce image file size is by using the "Save for Web" command in Adobe Photoshop. When using this command, you want to adjust the image to the lowest file size acceptable while keeping an eye out for image quality.

What If You Don't Have Photoshop?

If you don't have Adobe Photoshop there are numerous online tools you can use for image editing. Adobe even has an online image editing application at photoshop.com. This online tool doesn't have all of the capabilities of the desktop version of Adobe Photoshop, but it covers all the basics of image editing and doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

Other impressive online image editing tools are:

PicMonkey - has been described by experts as a "staggeringly great photo editing tool".Pixlr - is super user-friendly, and also comes with a 100% free app for your smartphone, so you can edit on the go.FotoFlexer- is another fairly advance online image editor. FotoFlexer even allows you to work with layers!

Finally, there is always GIMP. GIMP is an open-source, free image editing software application that can be run on Windows, Mac or Linux. It can do everything Photoshop can do, but tends to be a bit clunkier. But for a free image editing application - you can't beat it.

How Large Should My Image Files Be?

A good rule of thumb for ecommerce images is to try to keep your image file size below 70kb. That can be difficult sometimes, especially for larger images, but I'll get into that in a minute...

5. Know Which Image File Type to Use for the Right Situations

There are three common file types that are used to post images. These are JPEG, GIF, and PNG.

Let's look at the 3 file types and how they affect the same image:

JPEG (or .jpg) images are a somewhat of an old file type and has become the de facto standard image of the Internet. JPEG images are able to be compressed considerably, which results in quality images with small file sizes. In the image above, the JPEG format provides nice quality and low file size.

GIFs (.gif) are lower quality images than JPEGs and are used for more simple images such as icons and decorative images. GIFs also support animation as I'm sure all you Redditors know. Regarding image optimization, it's great to use GIFs for the plain and simple images on a webpage (that are just a few colors), but for complex images and photos, GIFs are not always as attractive - this is especially true for bigger and more photoesque image.

The MacBook GIF above is a case where we can get away with using GIF. This is because the photo is small enough where GIF works well. 

PNG images are becoming more popular as an alternative to GIFs. PNGs support many more colors than GIFs, and they don't degrade over time with re-saves like JPEGs. Even though the PNG file type is starting to be used more, the file sizes can still be much larger than what you would find with JPEG images.

Notice how the PNG-24 image is over three times larger in file size than the PNG-8 version. This is why you need to be very careful with PNGs.

Here's an extreme example, where the image file size has been held constant at 24 kb for all three files formats:

As you can see, JPEG is the clear winner here. GIFs and PNGs must degrade in quality in order to stay at a low file size.

Here are some tips to remember when choosing file formats:

For most ecommerce situations - JPEGs will be your best bet. They provide the best quality and the smallest file size.Never use GIFs for large product images. The file size will be very large and there is nogood  way to reduce it. Use GIFs for thumbnails and decorative images.PNGs can be a good alternative to both JPEGs and GIFS. If you are only able to get product photos in PNG format, try using PNG-8 over PNG-24. PNGs excel at simple decorative images because of their extremely small file size.

Most image editing software can save images to any of the file types discussed above. 

6. Know How To Handle Your Thumbnails

Many ecommerce sites will use thumbnail images. They provide a great way to quickly scan category pages without taking up too much real estate.

Thumbnails are great, but be careful - they can be a silent killer to your page loading times. They are usually presented in a critical step during the shopping process, and if they are holding up your category pages from loading - well, you could just lose another customer. Note that Shopify merchants don't have to worry about thumbnail optimization as we take care of that for you.

Make your thumbnail file sizes as small as possible. It may be worth letting quality slide in favor of a lower file sizes. Remember, the cumulative effect of your thumbnails will have a huge effect on your page loading time.Vary your alt tag text as to not duplicate text that you would use for the bigger versions of the same image. As a matter fact, make your alt text wildly different. The last thing you want is the thumbnail being indexed instead of the large image. A case could be made to leave out the alt text entirely.7. Use Image Site Maps

If your site uses JavaScript galleries, image pop-ups or other "flashy" ways to improve the overall shopping experience - Google image site maps will help you get your images noticed by Google.

Web crawlers can't crawl images that are not called out in the webpage source code. So in order to let them know about these images, you must list their location in an image site map.

Google has many guidelines for image publishing to help your website rank high on the search engine that you can view here. In addition, you can use the extension for images on Google Sitemaps to give Google more information about the images on your website, and doing this can help Google find more images than what would be conventionally found through their search engine.

Although using Sitemaps doesn't guarantee that your images will get indexed by Google, you can absolutely increase the optimization of your website, and especially the images by using Sitemaps.Google Webmaster Tools has many suggestions for correctly formatting your Sitemap and the images for your Sitemap.

On Google Sitemaps it is important for you to add specific tags for all of the images. You can also create a separate Sitemap to list images. What is important is to add all the necessary information, while using specific tags, to any Sitemaps you have or will create. Follow these guidelines that Google suggests when creating a Sitemap with image information.

8. Beware of Your Decorative Images

Websites often have an assortment of decorative images such as background images, buttons, and borders. Anything non-product related can likely be considered a decorative image.

Although decorative images can add a lot of aesthetic appeal to a webpage, they can often result in a large combined file size and slow load times. Therefore you might want to consider taking a closer look at your decorative images so that they don't impair your website's ability to convert visitors into customers.

First, you want to check the file sizes of all the decorative images on your web pages, and use a template that minimizes file sizes for all or most of the pages on your website.

Here are some tips to cutting down the file sizes of your decorative images:

For images that make up borders or simple patterns, make them PNG-8 or GIFs. You can create good looking images that are only a few hundred bytes big!If possible, use CSS to create colored areas instead of using images. Use CSS styling as much as possible to replace any decorative images.Take a close look at that large wallpaper-style background image. Those can be huge files. Shrink them down as much as possible without ruining the image quality.

One trick you can use to eat away at the background image size is to cut out the middle of the background image, and make it a flat color or transparent. This can decrease the file size substantially.

9. Use Caution When Using Content Delivery Networks

Shopify merchants don't really have to worry about this since we're a hosted solution, but others need to pay attention. Content delivery networks (CDNs) are fast becoming the go-to place to host your images and other media files. They can increase your page load times and help solve bandwidth issues.

The one drawback is when it comes to backlinks. As you may know, backlinks are critical for SEO and the more backlinks you have, the better your site does in the search engines.

By placing your images on a content delivery network, you are most likely removing the image from your domain and placing it on the domain of the content delivery network. So when someone links to your images, they are actually linking to the content delivery network website.

Therefore, the best rule of thumb is:

Just because something is "trendy," don't follow the trend like sheep. Determine if it is really the best move for your business first.If your website is doing tons of business every month, then a CDN is most likely a good idea since it can help solve bandwidth issues.If your site only gets in the "thousands" of visitors a day, chances are your current hosting situation can handle the load you are currently doing.

There are ways around the SEO issues associated with CDNs, but be sure to have a professional help you strategize your move first.

10. Test Your Images!

The entire point of optimizing your images is to help increase your bottom line. We've talked about reducing file sizes and getting the search engines to index them - but what about testing images to see what converts into more business?

Test the Number of Product Images Per Page: Since loading time is an issue for some non-hosted ecommerce sites, you may find that reducing the number of images on a page will increase click-through rates and sales. But it's also possible that providing a lot of images per page (such as different views) will improve the user experience and lead to more sales. The only way to find this out is to test.Test What Angles Your Customers Prefer: You may find that by providing the views your customers want to see, it will increase overall loyalty. A great way to figure this out is to survey your customers about what they like the most when viewing product shots. Surveying your customers in general is always a great habit to get into.Test How Many Product Listings You Should Have on Category Pages: 10, 20, 100 products? Test the number of products you list on category pages to see what works best for your customers and their shopping experience.
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A New App Wants to Disrupt the Modeling World: Should Agencies Be Worried?

A New App Wants to Disrupt the Modeling World: Should Agencies Be Worried? | Photo for eCommerce by Allure Systems | Scoop.it
One app aims to be the Uber of modeling agencies.
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The modeling industry has evolved significantly over the past few decades—the days of Polaroids kept in a file have been replaced by the dominance of Instagram—but one thing that has remained relatively unchanged is the agency template. Since the twenties, models have signed with agencies who discover them in airports (à la Kate Moss), at Russian fruit stands (Natalia Vodianova), and in fast-food restaurants (Gisele Bündchen), going on to not only manage their careers and book them for jobs, but also investing significant amounts of time and money in “developing” them. While the emergence of social media and Internet culture has shaken things up in the past few years, with new faces being discovered online through both targeted searches and random scrolls, one company hopes to take things a step further, connecting the Web and the fashion community like never before. A new app called Swipecast has already been dubbed “the Uber of Modeling” for its aim to revolutionize the way in which models are booked: Instead of going through an agency, now photographers, casting directors, and brands can connect with models directly, viewing their stats, digitals, and day rates with the click of a button, and cutting out the middle man—and their fifteen percent—entirely. The brainchild of Peter Fitzpatrick, president of agency Silent Models NY, Swipecast provides a booking alternative that Fitzpatrick believes will ultimately democratize the process. “This was really meant as a way to solve problems and give everyone access,” says Fitzpatrick, noting that agencies can have their own biases, such as favoring established photographers over newer talents: “There are a lot of really great photographers who could be the first assistant to a Steven Klein or Steven Meisel, and this could help them have access to great models as they test and build their own books.” Though agencies often work with young photographers in order to beef up the portfolios of their newer models, access to a pool of emerging talent is mutually beneficial. Much the way that Uber provides riders with the ability to leave feedback on their drivers, each image-maker is verified and models are able to leave reviews in order to weed out unsavory experiences, taking out some of the guesswork involved with a new name. swipecast app EXPAND Photo: Courtesy of Swipecast The benefits for models are equally compelling, particularly from a financial standpoint. Currently, models are billed by their agencies for things like comp card printing and housing in model apartments: By taking some of these processes online, it could potentially eliminate those fees. Depending on the agency, it can take anywhere from weeks to months for models to be paid or reimbursed for expenses. Fitzpatrick believes Swipecast can help alleviate the burden. “[Swipecast] kind of resolves that working capital problem for these models,” says Fitzpatrick. “You’re able to book a couple of jobs for $750 and get paid almost instantly, book the job on Wednesday, and the money’s in your account on Friday. You can now pay your rent, go buy a great pair of heels.” And for models who don’t reside in a city frequented by scouts or filled with agencies, Swipecast provides a window into the industry–and the ability to be spotted from halfway across the country. But as with any new technology, the real test of Swipecast will be whether or not fashion’s elite will actually use it. Though the industry has wholeheartedly embraced social tools like Instagram and Snapchat, it remains to be seen whether use of a business platform like Swipecast will be as widespread. So far early signs are looking good: Models like newcomers Rachel Finninger and Henriett Barabás are early adopters, and photographer Ellen von Unwerth has already started singing the the app’s praises. “Since we do a lot of our own casting, we are looking forward to using it,” Von Unwerth said prelaunch. With plans to expand the app and integrate video and more social features, Fitzpatrick is optimistic that this is something modeling is ready for. Considering that many models already serve as their own publicity machines on social media, one imagines that the rise of online booking tools could potentially be seen as a further threat to the agency template, but rather than viewing his creation as competition, Fitzpatrick sees Swipecast as just another tool in the agency arsenal: “My hope is that the modeling agencies can see Swipecast as a really great innovation that helps simplify their lives and allows them to focus on the most important things, like development or steering a girl’s career.”
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France Fines 35 Modelling Agencies in Decade of Price Fixing

PARIS, France — France's anti-competition regulatory body has fined 35 modelling agencies over a decade-long practice of fixing prices, saying the tables established each year were illegal. Thursday's decision came in the midst of Fashion Week, a particularly intense time for both modelling agencies and the men and women who work for them. The agencies were fined a total of 2.4 million euros ($2.7 million). A total of 37 companies were implicated in the case but two have since discontinued operations. According to the decision, the agencies used the models' salaries as a base and built in a markup of 30 percent in the prices passed on uniformly to clients.

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How designer Rebecca Minkoff uses technology to create a better shopping experience

How designer Rebecca Minkoff uses technology to create a better shopping experience | Photo for eCommerce by Allure Systems | Scoop.it
Minkoff is a tech savvy designer who used virtual reality to show off her clothes at last week's New York Fashion Week....GOOGL
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Minkoff went beyond livestreaming and virtual reality. She also partnered with Zeekit, a mobile app that enables users to preview Minkoff's newest looks on their own bodies. Using Zeekit, a shopper can upload a photo of herself, and then the app overlays whichever clothing items the user selects from the fall show.The app uses augmented reality to give shoppers an idea of how their favorite fashions will look on their own bodies instead of on a runway model.
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Google et Zalando alliés dans la génération de styles personnalisés

Google et Zalando alliés dans la génération de styles personnalisés | Photo for eCommerce by Allure Systems | Scoop.it

Et si le big data permettait de générer des designs répondant aux attentes des différents consommateurs ? C’est l’idée derrière Muze, projet mettant en commun les données mode de Zalando et l’intelligence artificielle du géant Google, et présenté à l’occasion du Bread&Butter. Le concept débute par l’analyse à la loupe des recherches menées par les consommateurs de Zalando afin de définir quels produits pourraient leur plaire. Mais il se démarque ensuite en proposant non pas des produits existants correspondants, mais en générant un produit unique. Au-delà du sexe et de l’âge du consommateur, le dispositif présenté sur tablette se base par ailleurs sur l’humeur du client, son style de musique favori et un style artistique lui correspondant. Une étape consiste même à dessiner soi-même une silhouette sur un mannequin virtuel. Si Zalando souligne qu’il ne s’agit pour l’heure que d’une expérimentation, le procédé pourrait bien ouvrir une nouvelle voie. Notamment en cas de démocratisation de l’impression de vêtements en 3D. Mais surtout face à la montée en puissance de la demande de pièces personnalisées accessibles, que sociologues comme créateurs prédisent comme une conséquence logique de l’hégémonie d’enseignes aux créations standardisées.

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Augmented Reality "3D Virtual Fitting Rooms" -- The Good & The Bad

Have you seen the coverage of these “3D Virtual Fitting Rooms”? Thanks to the power of the Microsoft Kinect several of these hacks products have entered the market over the past few months, and they’re getting a bit of media attention (wait, here’s another one that just launched yet is claiming to be the “first”). Because of these articles, I’ve been asked by a few people for my thoughts on these 3D Virtual Fitting Rooms, hence the post below. Hopefully this post will initiate a bit of dialogue among us, and whether you agree or disagree with me, I’d love for you to weigh in below. So, without further ado, let me give you a run down of our thinking on 3D Virtual Fitting Rooms:

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Very good summary good why VR for virtual fit in is not doable today:

THE GOOD:
1.  Depth Sensing Cameras – The cameras these executions are using are cutting edge and offer (developers) some huge opportunities to create compelling motion/gesture based user interfaces, and overall more sophisticated augmented reality user experiences. A depth sensing camera’s functionality is simply leaps and bounds more advanced than the average person’s webcam… it’s not even close. To borrow a Larry Miller quote: “It’s the difference between shooting a bullet and throwing it.” 

2. Powerful Hardware Systems – When we’re looking at In-Store 3D Virtual Fitting Rooms, developers are able to control the hardware that’s powering the experience. That means they can create significantly more powerful applications since they don’t need to build software for the hardware the average user has at home (like we do). This is definitely a benefit. Foot Traffic – These types of systems are pretty novel, and initially people will be interested in playing around with them. So if you’re one of the first stores to utilize the tech, you’ll probably generate a bit of extra foot traffic, and a bit of buzz. 

THE BAD:
1. At Home Hardware & Penetration – All of these 3D Virtual Fitting Rooms claim to work in people’s homes. And technically, that’s possible. They can be made to work in a home, but I’m going to get right to the point: do you have a depth sensing camera at home? Probably not. In short, that means you can’t use the 3D Virtual Fitting Room. The fact is PCs and connected TVs are a few years away from having depth sensing cameras integrated natively, so realistically your only opportunity to have a depth sensing camera at home is to own a Microsoft Kinect. So, let’s assume you have a Microsoft Kinect at home — after all, as of March there were already 10 million units sold. First off, as we discuss consumer reach, is should be noted that that number pales in comparison to the PC numbers Intel noted recently: over 1 million computers are sold daily and there are 1.5 billion in use. Second, Microsoft hasn’t announced details around commercial licenses for the Kinect. And that’s important. Will a retailer have to pay 50 grand to create Xbox applications? Will Microsoft take 30% of sales and kill any margins? Will they even allow a third party shopping application on X-Box Live or will they “reject” them when submitted? These are all questions that today we don’t know the answers to. So, if only a minority of people even have potentially compatible hardware, and those that do have no ability to access the software… how can people realistically use a retailer’s 3D Virtual Fitting Room at home? 
2. Content Is King, And There Is No Content – This one will be quick: Manufacturers/Retailers don’t have 3D assets of their clothing items, and as of today 3D assets for augmented reality are cost prohibitive to produce. And without clothes, it’s not a very compelling “fitting room” is it? “Fit” Just Can’t Be Done – Even if retailers could create perfect looking 3D assets in a cost effective manner, these alleged “3D Virtual Fitting Rooms” can’t accurately portray fit (i.e. where a garment would actually bunch, hang, or bulge on a person’s very unique body), or provide shopper’s with the tactile feedback that’s such a key component of the “promise of fit”. 
3. What’s The Value-Ad For The In-Store Shopper? – Question: What exactly does the spate of 3D Virtual Fitting Rooms add to the current in-store shopping experience? It’s new… and different, sure. But does it truly help the shopper shop? Once they get past some initial “wow factor”, will it continue to add to the shopping experience? I mean, the actual dress is three feet away on a hanger. If they’re at home, I get it. It can help them to better visualize what the item might look like on them. But why would a shopper that’s in a store prefer to “hold up” a digital dress, rather than feel and interact with the real deal? They made the effort to leave their homes, and come to a store. Why would they then opt for an experience they could pretty much have at home on their laptop? As I’m sure you can guess, in my opinion the “bad” outweighs the “good” for today’s crop of 3D Virtual Fitting Rooms. The technology is incredibly powerful but I think that the realities of the current marketplace make this technology an unwise investment for retailers. To be honest, if a retailer has the luxury of being on a development timeline that lasts a few years and can afford some R&D, then my advice would change. But with budgets being tight, if a retailer wants to make an impact today, I think it’s way more prudent for them to start with a 2D experience online. It’ll cost less; will be easier to produce/execute; will be usable by significantly more of their shoppers; and, already has data to support its effectiveness. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts below… And you can find me on twitter here.
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Condé Nast Eyes Digital Viewers with Virtual Reality, Scripted Shows

Condé Nast Entertainment will unveil two original virtual reality series for the upcoming year at its Tuesday presentation before advertisers at the Newfronts, an annual digital content showcase in New York.
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Op-Ed | What 3D Printing Means for Fashion

3D printing has significant implications for luxury garments, shoes and bags, as well as jewellery, eyewear and watchmaking, argues Pascal Morand.
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Software Is Reshaping Fashion's Back End

Digital has revolutionised the front-end of fashion, but the industry’s less glossy back-end systems have remained relatively untouched — until now.
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NEW YORK, United States — From e-commerce to social media, digital has revolutionised the consumer-facing front-end of fashion, reshaping sales and marketing. Yet, for years, the industry’s less glossy back-end systems — used to manage everything from production to excess inventory — have remained relatively untouched. “Brands and retailers have been focused on what’s sexy,” says Ronen Lazar, co-founder and chief executive of Inturn, which helps brands more easily unload unsold inventory to off-price retailers. And while new platforms can certainly offer advantages, “technology in general creates really serious demands on time, from managing data flows and storage to [sharpening] accuracy and flexibility,” he adds. “Everyone has been putting it off to the side.” Now, as more millennials and executives trained in other sectors join fashion companies, expectations are rising and brands and retailers are rethinking their back-end solutions. What’s more, in a challenging retail environment, there is more demand than ever for software that, once up and running, can save both time and money. In the past month alone, more than six start-ups offering back-end solutions geared to fashion companies have raised venture capital. But which of these companies will provide fixes to fashion’s key back-end inefficiencies? BoF identifies seven back-end problems and the companies aiming to solve them? Placing wholesale orders at showrooms and tradeshows is still often done with pen and paper. Solution: Walk into any bustling showroom in New York or Paris, or a Las Vegas trade show, and you’re still bound to find buyers with pens in hand, marking down which items they’re looking to order on printed sheets secured with large clip boards. When orders are placed on paper, brands must then input those requests into their systems manually. However, a handful of companies have materialised that aim to automate this process while also offering data-driven feedback. The New York-based Joor, which has raised over $20 million in venture capital funding from the likes of Advance Publications and Forerunner Ventures, has emerged as an industry leader that offers a solution for both brands and retailers. Joor’s platform allows buyers to place orders at more than 1,200 brand showrooms via an iPad app or on the web. Retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom are using the company’s mobile application to write all of their orders, standardising the process on their end regardless of whether or not the brand itself is on the platform. (If a brand doesn’t use Joor, it can still input the information from the retailer’s purchase order.) Joor also offers integration services so that the data can then be easily uploaded into purchase-order systems. “We are becoming the industry standard for wholesale fashion,” says founder and chief executive Mona Bijoor. “Now, it’s about data in and data out.” The London-based Ordre is another wholesale platform that makes placing orders easier. For Ordre, the objective is to allow buyers who might not be able to physically visit a showroom — or don’t have time to sit and place orders while they’re there — an opportunity to view and purchase product from anywhere in the world. (Brands on the platform include McQ, Dries Van Noten and 3.1 Phillip Lim.) Chief executive Simon P. Lock, the founder of Australia Fashion Week, launched the company in 2014 after observing a change in the audiences at runway shows. “We noticed the numbers of buyers dropping out of fashion week,” he says. The company is now set to launch Ordre Orb, which offers 360-degree line-sheet visuals. Online marketplaces offer brands and retailers another avenue to sell their goods. But the inventory input process is often manual, requiring daily uploads. Solution: Online marketplaces, from Lyst to Amazon, have long offered an additional selling channel for brands. But more and more traditional retailers, including Macy’s, are beginning to offer “vendor-direct” programmes that operate in a similar way. For brands, however, being part of an online marketplace is a laborious process that requires daily product uploads and updates, typically done through Excel spreadsheets. The recently launched RevCascade aims to automate the process by plugging into a brand’s inventory management system. By using the software, brands can upload items more quickly and also find new marketplaces where they might want to sell their goods. “If you think about the success of all the marketplaces in e-commerce, it's a massive trend but most retailers have not really embraced it,” says RevCascade chief executive and co-founder Josh Wexler, who spent several years developing real-time bidding for online advertisements at the Rubicon Project. “We see the future being a continuation of their purchase order business...but our technology enables retailers and the brands they carry to extend their relationships in a way that helps both of them generate significantly more revenue.” Buying and selling excess inventory has always been a manual process. Solution: Selling excess inventory to off-price retailers has long required brands to send through alphanumeric spreadsheets with no images, a time sink for sales staff that provides little visual context for off-price buyers. While RevCascade’s aim is to automate the brand-to-marketplace process, Inturn’s is to automate the off-price process, allowing brands to sell more product in a shorter period of time. For instance, one buyer says she was able to order $500,000 worth of product — on an iPad, no less — in just 20 minutes, a process that may have taken a half a day in the past. Here’s how it works: Inturn pulls information from a brand’s inventory management system, spitting out product attributes — including price, universal product code, and imagery — which lets sellers better track excess inventory. “It allows them to be proactive instead of reactive,” says Inturn’s Lazar. “One well-known off-price retailer told us Inturn is saving each of its buyers 100 hours per month.” Some retailers are also using Inturn — which has raised $13.55 million in funding from the likes of Beanstalk Ventures and Jose Marin — to move product between their own regular price and off-price channels. Planning and managing inventory to achieve the perfect stock mix remains difficult. Solution: Brands and retailers have never had more access to customer data. But how can they better use purchase information to help them determine what should sit on the sales floor in the future? The UK-based startup Anatwine, which just raised $12 million in funding, helps retailers better plan stock. The company, founded in 2013 by former Superdry e-commerce director Chris Griffin, connects brands and retailers through a single integration of product procurement and order fulfillment, making it easier to tweak the online stock mix based on real-time sales data instead of historic sales. Clients include German e-commerce behemoth Zalando (which is also its main investor), as well as Adidas, Next, Harvey Nichols and Shangpin. Most brands do not track the post-sale lifecycle of products, missing out on rich data that could help inform future merchandising decisions. Solutions: As consumers become more comfortable with the “Internet of things,” using smart tags to track a product long after it has been purchased will become commonplace. Not only for authentication purposes, but also to help better understand the length and extent to which an item is used. Enter Awear, which utilises smart tag technology to monitor items post-purchase, and to engage with the customer beyond the till. To make smart tags more palatable for a weary consumer, Awear has developed an app that aims to be the equivalent of a “frequent flier programme,” according to co-founder Liron Slonimsky, triggering VIP experiences and special offers. (Awear’s technology can also be incorporated into a brand’s own app.) “It’s a way to tailor communication, but also to see how they wear their purchases and where they wear them,” she adds. “The post-sale behavior analytics are really like nothing the industry has seen.” There is no universal system for managing the production and shipment of a product. Solutions: In fashion, there are more than a dozen systems used to manage the logistics behind selling, ordering, producing and shipping a product. While it’s unlikely that the industry will adopt one system across the board, certain platforms are emerging as favorites. For instance, SAP Fashion Management, launched in 2014, has been implemented by Brooks Brothers, Armani, Under Armour, Luxxotica and more. The service is an “end-to-end” solution, meaning that it manages the wholesale, retail and manufacturing processes. The goal is to help users coordinate and deploy resources along the supply-chain journey. In theory, a one-stop solution not only creates efficiency, but also makes it easier to cull meaningful data. “With SAP Fashion Management, brands can now identify, collect and act on critical data to achieve a 360-degree view of their ideal customers worldwide,” says Lori Mitchell-Keller, global head of consumer industries at SAP. “This positions the brand to engage more meaningfully with their customers while enhancing perception.” Brands have difficulty measuring the impact of influencers, both in terms of awareness and conversion. Solution: Formed in January 2016, Launchmetrics represents the merger between Fashion GPS — a system used by publicists to track everything from samples to runway show seating assignments — and “influencer software” Augure, which helps said publicists determine which of their media partners are best at delivering their brand message. For instance, if a certain Instagram star is great at driving conversion for a certain brand, then the brand can build a strong relationship with that influencer by loaning them clothes, inviting them to events and advertising with them. “We take an analytical approach by finding influencers that will match with your audience and recommending what a brand should be doing during fashion week, but also in between,” explains chief marketing officer Arnaud Roy. “The idea is to monitor and put an economic value on earned media.” In August, just in time for the Spring 2017 shows, Launchmetrics will launch an updated version of GPS Radar — the system editors, buyers and influencers use to RSVP to events — with an overhaul of the entire platform scheduled for October.
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Four key trends from the Fashion Ecommerce and Content Marketing report

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Achieving Creative Production Success At Scale | globaledit

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interessant!

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Spring-Summer 2016 | LOUIS VUITTON]

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