Marie Claire Ventures into E-commerce

Marie Claire magazine has launched Marie Claire Edit – a shopping experience curated by their fashion editors. The e-commerce platform features brands including NET-A-PORTER,  ASOS, Topshop, and many more.

The idea of the site is to give Marie Claire readers a place to shop where all the items are current, on-trend and paired with pro styling tips. Products are pulled together in themes like, “The major knits to wear right now,” “These Christmas jumpers prove you can be festive AND chic” and “The checked blazer upgrades you’ll need this season.” So the editorial voice of Marie Claire remains, but the collections are lighter on text, with shopping truly the main focus.

Marie Claire Edit also plans to work closely with designers. Their future vision includes housing exclusive interviews and major product launch news.

Why It’s Hot

As print magazines continue to look for new ways to stay relevant and profitable, Marie Claire is taking a big step in a new direction for publishers.

Source: https://www.retaildive.com/news/marie-claire-magazine-unveils-content-driven-e-commerce-site/542874/

Future-Forward Shopping at Sam’s Club Now

Sam’s Club will soon be introducing a whole new way to shop in Dallas, Texas. Their new location, called Sam’s Club Now, will serve as the company’s “epicenter of innovation,” where they’re testing everything from augmented reality product overlays to self-checkout via mobile app. A video on their site demonstrates what the experience could look like. 

Shoppers will be able to make grocery lists on the app before entering the store. When they arrive, a map on their phone will direct them where to go to find the items on their list. The directions can also be activated by voice commands. Product pricing will use electronic labels — eliminating the need to manually print and replace signage. Scanning a product with their phone before adding it to a physical shopping cart allows for self-checkout when they’re finished.

AR product experiences will include showing ways to use the product, highlighting key features, and even speak to how items are sourced. There will also be kid-friendly experiences such as turning digital shopping carts into pirate ships or rockets.

Sam’s Club is using the new location to serve as a testing lab for these new technologies before rolling them out to other clubs. They’ll be using over 700 cameras to continually scan and optimize.

Why It’s Hot

Sam’s Club is testing innovative concepts that have the power to transform the everyday shopping experience.

Source: https://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/327259/sams-club-goes-high-tech-adds-ar-voice-shopping.html

Saving the Trees One Ad View at a Time

65% of people skip pre-roll ads. But Busch Beer’s new “Tree-Roll” ad is giving people a compelling reason to watch to the end. For every full completion view, Busch is planting a tree.

They’ve partnered with the National Forest Foundation as part of the foundation’s effort to plant 50 million trees across America by 2023. For every $1 donated, 1 tree is planted.

The campaign ladders up to Anheuser-Busch’s larger effort to become the industry leader in sustainability.

Why It’s Hot

Besides being a creative way to get people to watch ads all the way through, Busch is hitting on a major area of interest for young Americans by taking a stand on climate change.

Source: https://cassandra.co/marketing/2018/10/25/more-trees-please 

Personalized Razors, Made Possible by 3-D Printing

Gillette is bringing personalization to the razor industry. Powered by 3-D printers, Gillette and printing company Formlabs have created Razor Maker – a website where you can customize and purchase a razor of your own design.

Gillette’s new Razor Maker™ handles can be printed in seven colors, including black, white, red, blue, green, grey and chrome. (Photo: Business Wire)

The base razors to choose from include 45 intricate designs that are named after their textures, inspired by nature (e.g. Redwood, Coral, Agave). People can customize the color, number of blades, and grip. There’s even an option to add 12 characters of text.

The razors go for $19-$45, with the option to add additional blade cartridges for an extra $15. While the Razor Maker site isn’t currently linked to Gillette’s subscription service Gillette On Demand, it does ask people whether or not they are interested in learning more about the service right before they check out.

Why It’s Hot

With Dollar Shave Club adding new products like shampoo and deodorant to their subscription boxes, and Harry’s Razors launching Flamingo, a new brand of razors and wax strips for women, it’s interesting to see that Gillette is turning to personalization and 3-D printing to stand out from the competition.

More importantly, this is one of the first times a major brand is offering mass customization with 3-D printing. There are endless possibilities that P&G can explore with their other brands, so they may be using Razor Maker as a trial run of the technology with plans to expand in the future.

Source: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20181017005532/en/Gillette-Partners-Formlabs-%E2%80%93-Boston-Startup-Defining

 

A New Approach to Finding Locations

A start up called What3Words has mapped and renamed every location on Earth. Using an algorithm to scan GPS co-ordinates, they created 57 trillion 3 meter by 3 meter squares that each have unique three word address. For example, ‘Tools.sand.stone’ refers to a spot in Central Park in New York and ‘Sportscar.citronella.photocopiers’ is a square of the Antarctic Ocean.

They created this map in order to increase accuracy in navigation for businesses and individuals in a simple yet global way. 75% of countries don’t have their own organized addressing system, according to the UN, so the possibilities that this system opens up are far-reaching.

Consumers can download the free app in 25 languages to get directions. But the real value comes when What3Words partners with brands and government agencies. Pizza Hut and Dominoes are using these addresses in places like Mongolia and the Caribbean to deliver pizzas to remote locations. And several models of Mercedes are using What3Words for their built-in navigation systems.

Why It’s Hot

The applications for more precise, universal locations are a win-win for businesses and consumers. UPS estimates saving each of its drivers one mile per day would result in a $50 million in overall savings. For consumers, the benefits range from increased accuracy for driving directions to life-saving emergency vehicles arriving on the scene more quickly.

Source: https://www.marketingweek.com/2018/10/08/startup-simplify-location/

There’s a New Credit Card for People Without a Credit Score

Petal is a new company that provides credit cards to those who have not yet built up a traditional credit history. Instead, it uses data like how much money a person makes and spends in a month to determine what their credit limit should be. Petal Card_hires

One of the company’s co-founders, Jason Gross, explains that using a customer’s bank account history as a basis allows Petal to offer better credit limits that are often 10 times higher than competitors’ rates.

Annual Percentage Rates fall between the industry standard 14-25%, but the company has no fees of any kind, including late fees. Instead, the company generates money through interest payments and charging vendors when a customer uses their card.

Why It’s Hot: 

Younger people who don’t have a credit score yet finally have a credit card option that doesn’t penalize them with high rates and fees. As Gross has noted, this is especially important since this group is disproportionately made up of minorities and immigrants who often suffer without a credit score to help them qualify for financial products.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2018/10/02/petals-no-fee-credit-card-for-the-credit-score-less-is-now-open-to-the-public/ 

TripAdvisor is Relaunching as a Social Hub

TripAdvisor is overhauling their website and mobile app to be an all-in-one travel inspiration, planning and booking platform. Launching later in 2018, the redesign will include a new social feed aimed at giving each user a personalized, seamless experience.

People will be able to follow their friends as well as brands in the new feed. Over 500 partners are on board for launch, including publishers like National Geographic, The Travel Channel, and The Knot, and influencers like Giada De Laurentiis and TravelBabbo.

Content in the feed will include articles, videos, and recommendations that will help people discover new places. As members are planning a trip to a specific destination, they’ll see content relevant to the location and their interests. They can then save content into wish lists and itineraries, and ultimately book travel and experiences.

Why It’s Hot

60% of people booking travel online are already going to TripAdvisor. Building on their success with a social experience and the trusted expertise of publishers and influencers can only strengthen the platform.

Source: https://tripadvisor.mediaroom.com/2018-09-17-The-New-TripAdvisor-Goes-Social-Gets-Personal?m=58834

Audi Wants To Make it Easier to Pay Tolls

Companies like EZPass on the East Coast, FasTrak in California and TxTag in Texas have been helping people get through tolls faster with electronic tag devices for years. But soon, they’ll be in competition with cars that have electronic toll technology built in.

Starting with their new electronic vehicle e-tron, Audi is launching what they’re calling “Integrated Toll Module.” The technology leverages a toll transponder within the car’s rear-view mirror. Drivers will be able to pair their cars with wireless toll payment accounts, eliminating the need for a physical electronic tag.

audi e tron features integrated electronic toll tag technology module

The system places a toll transponder into the car’s rear-view mirror. From there, drivers will be able to pair their vehicle with their wireless toll accounts So there’s no more need to mount and deal with physical electronic tag devices on the upper portion of the windshield, or on the front license plate.

Audi says its Integrated Toll Modules are already compatible with existing toll agencies, meaning it will be easy to register new accounts and to drive cross-country between different toll authorities.

Why It’s Hot

Paying for tolls is a major hassle and source of traffic. Having technology built into cars to alleviate this problem can make many drivers’ daily commutes and longer trips significantly more pleasant.

Source: https://www.digitaltrends.com/cars/audi-e-tron-features-integrated-electronic-toll-tag-technology/ 

Getting Men to Talk Mental Health

Doctors are turning to apps to help men who view discussing mental health as a sign of weakness. They’re particularly hopeful that apps can help reach groups like working-class men, men in rural areas, and men approaching middle age, who are more likely to feel isolated and self-medicate with alcohol or other drugs instead of talking about their depression.

One new app that is geared towards helping men break the stigma around mental health is Headgear. Partially funded by men’s health charity the Movember Foundation, Headgear is designed to teach men coping mechanisms that can be used in real life situations.

The app’s 30-day challenge builds mental well-being through videos and quizzes, while tracking day-to-day emotions. While a full study is yet to be released, early anecdotal feedback from users shows positive results with decreased feelings of depression.

Why It’s Hot

While mental health apps have been on the rise, not many seem to cater to this target. Creating apps with advice around specific triggers can drive real impact for those suffering from depression.

Source: https://www.cnet.com/news/men-wont-talk-about-depression-and-its-literally-killing-them/  

Coffee Delivery Drones Could Be Coming to Offices Soon

IBM has dreamed up the ultimate boost to employee productivity: drones that deliver coffee to people’s desks. They’ve filed a patent for technology that can identify the “cognitive state” of office workers to detect when a cup of coffee is needed.

IBM patent coffee delivery drone

The patent describes how the drones may be able to detect blood pressure, pupil dilation, and facial expressions that indicate a person is drowsy. The technology will also store individual preferences like what type of coffee they enjoy or whether or not they take sugar.

There are multiple ways in which coffee delivery can work: one option is to have coffee poured directly into a person’s mug, while another delivers coffee in a sealed bag. People can also summon coffee with a hand gesture.

Why It’s Hot

While it’s unclear whether IBM will actually build this coffee delivery system and how soon it could come to life, the technology has the potential to completely overhaul the office coffee break.

Source: Popular Mechanics

 

BarkPark, the ‘Outdoor Clubhouse’ for Dogs

Bark, the company behind subscription service BarkBox, is opening a dog park in Nashville. It will provide a place where dogs can roam free off their leashes, while serving as a social gathering spot for their human friends.

BarkPark

Of course, there will be Bark branded toys and treats for dogs to try, with a selection available for purchase. There will also be free WiFi, a coffee shop, and weekly programming including live music and beer tastings.

To access BarkPark, dog owners will have to purchase day passes for $19 or select a membership package, with options for four-week ($49) or seasonal passes ($78). The members, however, are the dogs – which means any two humans can accompany the dog on any given visit. The pass can conveniently be shared by different family members and with dog sitters.

The Nashville location will open on September 8th for three months until its closed for the winter, giving Bark the chance to test and learn before considering opening up additional locations.

Why It’s Hot: 

BarkPark seems like a natural brand extension with high potential. They already do a great job of fostering loyalty among passionate dog lovers, and providing a place that owners and dogs can enjoy together will only cultivate that loyalty further.

Source: TechCrunch

Barkeep, the Mixologist Chatbot

The next time you’re searching for a recipe on Allrecipes.com, you might see a cocktail pairing sponsored by Tito’s Handmade Vodka. The two brands have teamed up on a mixologist chatbot, Barkeep, to recommend drinks and walk people through preparation.Tito Allrecipes bot

Barkeep is powered by natural language processing and a mixology database to suggest cocktails based on seasonality, popularity, and users’ preferences. The chatbot will be accessible by Facebook Messenger, as well as integrated within the Allrecipes search database.

Beyond recipes, the chatbot also features a catalog of on-demand alcohol delivery powered by Drizly.

The partnership is a natural fit — Allrecipes users are 20% more likely than the average U.S. adult to be frequent entertainers, and are more likely to have prepared a mixed drink in the past week. They are also 21% more likely than the general U.S. population to have consumed Tito’s Handmade Vodka in the last six months, according to comScore Fusion.

Why It’s Hot

39 million people use Allrecipes.com every month. This is a natural way to introduce cocktail pairings and alcohol delivery to a large, engaged audience.

Source: PR Newswire

Lowe’s Brings VR to Power Tools

Lowe’s Innovation Labs is using virtual reality as a fun and safe way to let potential customers play with power tools in their stores. Their latest installation involves a hedge trimmer–actual blades removed, of course.

The experience was built on HTC Vive VR, with accurate visual approximation and the real vibrating feel of trimming hedges. It’s also gamified, giving out gold stars for a job well done.

The pilot test across several cities has seen great success. People’s confidence with the product increased 127% after the experience.

 

Why It’s Hot

This is a smart way to help people test drive products that would normally be difficult to evaluate before purchasing. It also helps people get comfortable with tools that might otherwise intimidate them.

Source: Fast Company

The Aviva Dash Cam Will Save Drivers Time and Money

Insurance company Aviva added a new Dash Cam functionality to their app. The app begins filming as soon as it senses the vehicle move.

It films the journey in short, unsaved loops unless the motion reading from the smartphone detects a potential collision. In that case, the video footage is saved as video evidence that can be submitted with an insurance claim.

While the free app is available to all drivers, there are major benefits for those who are insured by Aviva, including safe driver car insurance discounts and easy ways to complete a claim via the app.

Why It’s Hot: 

  • This functionality makes it easier for drivers to quickly file insurance claims directly from their phones.
  • Video footage can help drivers clearly indicate who is at fault in an accident

Driverless Grocery Delivery

America’s largest grocery store, Kroger, has announced plans to launch a driverless home delivery service. A pilot program will kick off in the fall in partnership with Nuro, the self-driving car company started by former Google engineers.

Leading up to the launch, Nuro is using a fleet of six self-driving cars to map ideal routes around Kroger locations. The vehicles are designed to operate on public streets, and will continue to be tested in heavy traffic and a range of weather conditions.

When the service becomes available in the first, yet to be announced test market, Kroger customers will be able to request a delivery via the Kroger delivery portal or Nuro app.  The vehicles which have two temperature-controlled compartments will be loaded up with up to 12 grocery bags. When they arrive at their destination, customers will have to come to the curb or their driveway and enter a PIN code or otherwise verify their identity to retrieve their groceries.

While for many this will be a welcome improvement in grocery delivery, it may not be as liked by those customers who currently use Kroger’s same day delivery service and enjoy having a person to carry the groceries right to their door.

Why It’s Hot

Consumers have increasingly high expectations when it comes to on-demand delivery. As Nuro and other self-driving car companies perfect their technology and optimize their routes, there is likely to be a major overhaul in how groceries, laundry, and other items are delivered.

Source: The Verge

Amazon Alexa, At Your (Room) Service

Hotel service is getting a major upgrade. With Alexa for Hospitality, Amazon will help hotels manage and customize how their Echo speakers can work harder for their guests.

With an Echo speaker in each room, guests will feel right at home with the commands they use every day like turning the lights on and off, setting alarms, playing music and making phone calls. But even more importantly, Alexa will supplement hotel staff by taking on the functions of ordering room service, requesting room cleanings, providing information like pool hours, and helping guests check out. Amazon is also providing a digital platform to help hotels manage hundreds of Echo devices in one centralized view.

Along with the announcement, Amazon notes they are already working on enhancements. In the near future, guests will be able to temporarily connect their own Amazon account to the device in their hotel room, meaning preferences like favorite music and personalized details like contacts will be accessible. Upon checkout, the speaker will reset for the next guest.

Why It’s Hot: 

Alexa for Hospitality can help hotels truly deliver the level of comfort and convenience their guests expect. As it continues to evolve, hotels should see significant operational efficiencies while guests enjoy all the benefits of a virtual concierge.

Source: https://venturebeat.com/2018/06/19/amazon-launches-alexa-for-hospitality-to-bring-voice-enabled-services-to-hotel-guests/ 

Uber Wants to Use AI to Tell if You’re Drunk

Uber has applied for a patent to use AI to determine a passenger’s “user state” before they’re picked up by their driver. While this may trigger alarm for those who rely on Uber to get them home safely after a night of drinking, it seems as though the company has the passenger’s safety top of mind.

If implemented, the technology would scan for patterns in behaviors like interaction speed, typing, device angle and even walking speed to understand when a customer seems to be acting out of the ordinary. It will also measure how far from normal the behavior appears.

The company hasn’t clarified exactly what this will mean for users, but the patent application mentions that passengers may be paired with drivers “with experience or training with users having an unusual state.” It may also encourage drivers to use pickup and drop off locations that are well-lit and easy to find.

Why It’s Hot:

This unique application of AI can potentially make for a smoother ride for both Uber drivers and passengers. It may also inspire other apps to push the boundaries of how to improve customer experience based on user behavior data.