Swarm Gets Curious - Monthly Picks, October.

Our monthly Picks for October is a roundup of all things retail, just not as we know it. As some brands venture into ‘store of the future’ concepts to test the market and engage with the digitally native consumer, others are just seeking some clarity in these complex times. Discover more about how brands such as H&M and Sky are investing in brick-and-mortar, whilst others are investing in insights for the consumer of now using eccentric and innovative approaches. 

H&M to launch high-tech "Looop" system instore which will shred old clothes and create new ones in real-time
Sustainability has become a pillar in the fashion and manufacturing industry which speaks volumes about a brand’s values and responsibility. In the past, fast-fashion retailers have experience backlash from their not-so-sustainable practices, however, H&M has masterfully turned around this perception and has put sustainability at the forefront of their brand. H&M is set to launch a cutting-edge “garment-to-garment recycling system” in its store, which will shred old clothes and spin them into brand new ones in front of customers. It’s new “Looop” system will soon be launched at its flagship store in Stockholm, marking the first time its revolutionary garment recycling system will be revealed to the public. Looop will take customers old clothing, clean it, shred it into fibres, then spin these into a new yarn which can be used to create brand new clothing. Shoppers will be able to watch the entire process, which uses no water and no chemicals, take place inside the glass installation in real-time.

Sky to open first ever physical store at Liverpool One
Bucking the movement of service providers taking commerce solely online, Sky is set to open its first-ever bricks-and-mortar concept store in a major vote of confidence for the struggling high street. A new flagship Sky store opens its doors in Liverpool One on October 26, allowing customers to browse its range of services in store for the first time.  Customers can try out Sky’s latest developments firsthand while an “Access All Areas” stage will host various interactive experiences. Sky’s debut store will also feature a concession from iSmash allowing customers to get their tech fixed while they browse.

Are immersive technologies ready to build online buying trust?
Research from Accenture Interactive describes immersive technologies as the “missing link” between the trust that comes from touching and trying products before buying in-store and the doubts that come from online purchases. Accenture’s analysis revealed that 64% of  “leading consumer brands” are starting to invest in immersive experiences for commerce. However, the firm believes many are not investing in ways that are scalable or connected across the business.
Accenture wrote, “They are investing in pockets, doing things like uploading 3D models on product pages, curating personalised make-up palettes and hosting virtual fashion shows to bring people closer to products in the digital world. Winning in digital commerce takes immersive product and service experiences that give consumers purchasing confidence.” Like Accenture, at Swarm we believe that connectivity from digital to physical is key to providing a seamless experience to provide real customer confidence. 

Blending the digital and the physical: the technology behind CornerShop at The Drum Labs
At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, The Drum decided against reporting on the death of venues and chose to open their own venue that will cater to the strange new world we find ourselves in. During lockdown, the team at The Drum devided and built The Drum Labs – a new three-storey home in the heart of London’s Shoreditch, due to open in November. Devised by agency SharpEnd and consultancy Capgemini, their ‘store of the future’ CornerShop sits on the ground floor, designed as the retailer for the contactless age. The space includes zones for fashion, grocery, quick-serve and coffee.
Ed De Mott, product owner at Capgemini’s applied innovation exchange, says: “We’re interested in what the future of retail might look like, and that covers everything in the retail experience, from fashion to groceries. Taking those through from concept to a working demo means assessing what they are, the technological challenges, the user experience, whether we build the solutions or integrate with partners – there’s many elements to explore to get things into the store.” The Drum has taught us that there really is no rest for the wicked as alongside the Covid-19 pandemic, they have shown us all how quickly and efficiently we can adjust and innovate. 

Is China Becoming the World’s Testbed for New Retail?
Having seen revenue plummet at brick-and-mortar stores in North America and Europe this year, global brands are increasingly using China to experiment with more innovative retail strategies that can be rolled out worldwide once consumers are able to safely settle into a new (shopping) normal. Of these strategies, perhaps the most important for Western brands has been the concept of a digitally native or “smart” store — one that closes the loop between online experiences and offline retail.

Some of the most notable western brands taking this approach in China:


The Humanaut Brand Roast – The Most Honest (and Funniest) Focus Group Ever
At Swarm, we understand the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the live events and experience world and those who work within the industry. With this in mind, we love the concept that creative agency, Humanaut has conceived; recruiting a pool of standup comics to what they do best - brutally honest roasts. but on this occasion, the subject of the roast is brands and products. These roasts are then spliced together to provide valuable consumer insights into client’s brands, resulting in some seriously honest and brutal burns which can be converted into powerful and actionable insights. If there’s ever been a time to cut the bullshit, it’s now.

Image Credit: H&M