It's a wrap for the #MustHave16 Fashion Design Competition

That's a wrap for this year's #MustHave16 Design Competition, hosted by Art of Fashion.
The competition is demanding of the emerging fashion designers who participate. They are required to submit a sketch and a sample. In addition, they must go through the 5 phases of starting a brand: including building a social following and marketing strategy, working with retailers to ensure their design meet customer's needs, and selling their design in-store.

"It is a challenging competition, but it is a challenging market for emerging designers", says Jennifer Pilkington, Managing Director of Retail Assembly, who is a competition sponsor. "The hard work pays off, as the designers have a real world toolbox at the end of the competition."

This year the competition offered mentorship and feedback from a variety of industry experts including Laura-Jean Bernhardson, CEO of multi-store retailer Fresh Collective, Elle Bulger of Pinch Social, Jennifer Powell of Hart and Galla, and Donna Bishop, founder of Green Beauty and FGI Board Member.

Browse the video playlist below and congratulate our winner Bulgun Puteeva of Bulia

Mobile shopping insights

Summarized and excerpted from the December 2014 article by Liz Ericson, Louise Herring, and Kelly Ungerman, "Busting mobile-shopping myths".

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  1. APPS ENGAGE YOUR BEST CUSTOMERS - not generating traffic to engaging new customers.  "As the number of shopping apps proliferates, many people seem reluctant to use them: barely 30 percent of mobile shoppers have more than two shopping apps." and survey respondents were twice as likely to visit a mobile site than an app. 
  2. BASIC FUNCTIONALITY IS MORE IMPORTANT THAT FEATURES - "Respondents said the three most important functionalities were smooth checkout, the ease of adding and dropping items from a basket, and site navigation."
  3. SHOWROOMING CAN BE POSITIVE - A customer showroom in your store will buy from you eventually - 58 percent of them do. 
  4. DIGITAL DEVICES SUPPORT IN-STORE SERVICE - "Shoppers view mobile-enabled sales assistants—particularly in showrooms and large-format stores—as enhancing the shopping experience, underlining the need for retailers to find and train motivated, well-prepared, and well-equipped employees."

H&M in Bangladesh

Addressing how they are supporting Bangladesh development, H&M produced a fairly well-rounded video. With all of the coverage on the much needed improvements to working conditions, the economic and developmental impact is often left untouched. It is this development and international investment in the country which is why organizations should continue to push for improvement in the lives of their workers. 

It is a one-sided perspective, but it includes a variety of initiatives: 

  • Wage growth
  • Skills training and upgrades
  • Improved employee - management relations

 

What is missing, but perhaps not within the context of this video, is the environmental working conditions - exposure to toxic materials, chronic pain and ergonomic initiatives, etc. But overall, it was nice to see an organization addressing specific measures in a fuller way - not simply speaking about the cheque they cut in light of the tragedies. 

Indigo may be the star this holiday season

The retailer’s transformational strategy will woo more shopper dollars this holiday season

Canada’s large retailers are cautiously optimistic this holiday season as average growth in last 4 months remains at 3.0 percent over the previous year. The growth headliners of late (either to the positive or negative) are seemingly tapped for new ideas that will produce significant gains. There is one exception, Indigo Books and Music, which in the last two quarters has shown they are wooing more shoppers and shopping dollars back into their stores. 

“Our stores are looking fantastic and rich, online is ready to go, and we’re looking forward to a great holiday season.”
— Heather Reisman, CEO Indigo Books and Music

Indigo Books and Music achieved Q2 sales of $189 million and comp store growth of 8.4 percent – higher than any one else on the list. Comp store sales are a key performance indicator as this measure excludes sales fluctuations due to store closings, permanent relocation, and chain expansion. In Indigo’s case, operating 6 fewer stores helped to increase its revenues in existing stores. The company’s 90 superstores generated a total 6.0 percent increase (9.6 percent comp increase), while the smaller format locations attributed 2.3 percent revenue growth. 

Heather Reisman, CEO, indicated in a conference call November 5 that there are no plans to further decrease the number of Superstores that are driving the company’s business – but there is a possibility of expansion.

Small stores growth is driven by individual opportunity (i.e. expanding paper category where successful, adding toys where there isn’t competition in the mall, etc.) they aren’t yet part of a larger transformation strategy. With 2.3 percent revenue growth, it isn’t something to be worried about yet.

There are two indicators – beyond the strong comp store growth – that are promising for the retailer.

1)  The transformational strategy is working. The cornerstone is transitioning itself into Canada’s cultural department store, and growing the general merchandise category is key to achieving this. Now at 27 percent and expanding, general merchandise is picking up some of the slack books left behind.

2) Core books showed great growth, despite the industry’s declining results! Anytime a retailer can continue to grow their core, it means positive results. Teen and children’s books are current driving forces.

 

The cautious approach Reisman takes, despite recent success in a difficult transformation is working. “As I say in every one of my meetings, we still have a long way to have to go to fully achieve what we think the potential is of the business“ she commented on the call.

The team at Indigo has been diligently working over the last few years to execute. The design studio in New York brings proprietary accessories and lifestyle home products to the stores each season. The retailer has sought and invested in the best talent. Indigo remains alert, and are beginning to see success while the rest of the industry sees only modest growth. Keep your eye on them in the third quarter.

Wishing everyone strong holiday sales. 

 

READ MORE | Holiday business set-up (Canada)

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Getting ready for Apple Pay

The last month has seen significant mobile news for retailers and brands. Nordstrom is now selling product from Instagram, forever ensuring that it’s feed will link to a product page every time. 

A click on this image feeds into the product page for the pearl bracelet, $48. Not the soda. 

A click on this image feeds into the product page for the pearl bracelet, $48. Not the soda. 

Apple is making a move into less affluent markets with the iPhone 5C, Boku is enabling carrier billing in the European Union, PayPal separated from eBay, and retailers are embracing mobile in-store service at a much higher rate.

 

The piece of mobile news that caught most retailers’ ear was the launch of Apple Pay in the US. It will be one of the easier technologies to implement, and given the market penetration of the iPhone (in the US it is 42.4 percent as of July 2014), and the mobile payment method major retailers will want to adopt.

Apple Pay appeals to customer’s sense of security because only a token is transferred to the retailer, no credit or banking information. But this does have implications for loyalty programming as no other customer information is connected with the transaction. Personalized online shopping experiences are at risk for these customers, as are loyalty rewards.


Retailers can reach out to payment terminal providers to set up their business for Apple Pay. EMV standard contactless payment (tap payment) will need to be functioning in-store. And for those brands and retailers with Apps – familiarize yourself with the Developer page for Apple Pay.


ADDITIONAL | Has mobile payment hit it’s tipping point?