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10.05.2018 Retail : Food : Drinks opens its first physical store, Uniform uses AR for digital feedback on products, Google reveals latest innovations at its I/O conference.

1. Online-only brand opens phygital flagship

Eobuwie store designed by Dalziel & Pow, Poland Eobuwie store designed by Dalziel & Pow, Poland
Eobuwie store designed by Dalziel & Pow, Poland Eobuwie store designed by Dalziel & Pow, Poland
Eobuwie store designed by Dalziel & Pow, Poland Eobuwie store designed by Dalziel & Pow, Poland
Eobuwie store designed by Dalziel & Pow, Poland Eobuwie store designed by Dalziel & Pow, Poland

Poland –, a digitally native footwear retailer is expanding into the physical world. It has launched its first bricks-and-mortar location, which translates its e-commerce platform into a store environment.

The new space, designed by Dalziel & Pow, offers two different experiences, depending on how its customers want to shop. The initial showroom has no physical products on display but instead is supported by interactive tablets where customers can browse and shop the stockroom, which houses more than 100,00 shoeboxes. For those who seek a more intimate experience, the centre of the store allows consumers to try the product before purchasing and is intended to be a slower retail journey.

‘This ambitious and challenging concept blends the convenience of online shopping with the fast fulfilment of bricks-and-mortar, setting a new standard for high street footwear retailing’, explains store designer David Dalziel.

The store design acknowledges the fact that shoppers exist on a spectrum, from those who want a quick, seamless interaction to those who desire a path to purchase centred on discovery. For more on Spectrum Stores and tactics to save the physical store, see our latest macrotrend Storefront Salvation.

2. AR makes product reviews fun

Rugu by Uniform, UK

UK – Created by design agency Uniform, Rugu is a prototype app that uses augmented reality to review products.

The platform enables users to offer feedback on products by hovering their smart device over the item and swiping different emojis at it. They can also provide a deeper, more personal opinion by filming their own experiences, leaving comments, taking photos and creating memes.

Rugu allows consumers to share their immediate impression of product, as well as offering brands more insight on their customers. ‘Young consumers are hungry for a way to immediately engage. They want to share stories they produce and tap into content from peers, with a sense of humour,’ explains Tim Sharp, creative director at Uniform.

As augmented and virtual reality continues to grow, Rugu is just one example of how the technology has use cases in retail beyond marketing.

3. Google debuts human-like voice assistant and enhanced visual search

California – At Google’s latest I/O conference, the company revealed its next iterations of visual search and voice technology.

CEO Sundar Pichai unveiled Google Duplex, a new, human-sounding AI system for conducting natural conversations. The bot can carry out real world tasks over the phone, such as restaurant and salon bookings, with realistic human characteristics like saying ‘um’. The company is positioning Duplex as a business tool that will allow consumers to make enquiries and bookings through the Google Assistant platform. ‘Using Duplex could also reduce no-shows to appointments by reminding customers about their upcoming appointments in a way that allows easy cancellation or rescheduling,’ Google writes on its blog.

An upgraded Google Lens was also presented that allows users to point their phones at text, for example a menu or WiFi password, and automatically copy it to their phone to use as needed. The improved Lens also features Style Match, a shopping tool used to capture an item of clothing or product to instantly shop for the same or similar items online. For Google, it represents a continued push to move search from a text-based medium to a visual one.

Google I/O Conference 2018 Google I/O Conference 2018

4. Constructing positive futures through design

The Future Starts Here, Victoria & Albert Museum, London The Future Starts Here, Victoria & Albert Museum, London
The Future Starts Here, Victoria & Albert Museum, London The Future Starts Here, Victoria & Albert Museum, London
The Future Starts Here, Victoria & Albert Museum, London The Future Starts Here, Victoria & Albert Museum, London

London – A new exhibition at the V&A museum explores our advancing future through a series of objects poised to impact our homes, politics, cites and planets.

The Future Starts Here showcases over 100 projects from major corporations such as Facebook’s Aquila, alongside alternative futures presented by independent designers like Heather Dewey Hagborg, who showed her life-sized portraits of Chelsea Manning, generated from Manning's DNA.

The museum also commissioned several projects especially for the exhibition, including an automated Twitter bot called @futurepolitica1 that demonstrates how AI can mimic human behaviour on social media platforms to sway public opinion.

Curator Mariana Pestana explained that French urbanist Paul Virilio's famous saying: ‘The invention of the ship, was also the invention of the shipwreck’, was the starting point for the exhibition. It led the team to consider the prospective consequences of emerging technologies. Throughout the exhibition, visitors are posed a series of ethical questions on how the objects might impact their everyday lives in the near future.

As discussed in our Morality Recoded macro trend, we are shifting towards a society focused on collectivism, and there is a growing expectation among consumers that brands will take a more human-centric approach to technology and business.

5. Millennials are less concerned with GMO foods

New research by the Agricultural Biotechnology Council suggests that consumers are beginning to accept futuristic farming methods, despite decades of opposition and media warnings. With two-thirds of people under 30 surveyed stating they believe technology is a good thing for farming, it shows a potential growth in this market.

Consumer acceptance has long been the battleground for GMO foods, but it seems opinion may be swaying. Indeed, the next generation of farming technology could reduce crop-related diseases and enable farmers to produce crops that tailor specific needs of consumers

This survey comes shortly after the US government announced that it will no longer regulate genetically edited crops, allowing farmers to actively use techniques such asCrispr to remove, add or alter sections of a plant’s DNA.

6. Thought-starter: Can cities beat over-tourism?

By 2020, the 20 most popular destinations will add more visitors than the rest of the world combined (source: Euromonitor). In order to reverse this tourism disparity and protect heritage sites, governments are taking back control.

One of the main reasons for the over-tourism epidemic is that people are flocking to cities’ most-visited attractions, made popular by guide books and websites such as TripAdvisor, and missing out on the quieter, more local sites. By spreading visitors out, sites that are struggling to attract visitors can benefit, while the strain on must-see attractions is reduced.

Travel and hospitality brands can help with the fairer distribution of visitors. Airbnb is using its influence as a hospitality giant to encourage more conscious, balanced tourism. In April 2018, the company announced the launch of an Office for Healthy Tourism, which aims to drive visitors to lesser-known places.

In one of the most serious yet effective measures that destinations can take against over-tourism, some governments are limiting visitors altogether. Ecuador’s Galápagos Islands, which were placed on UNESCO’s ‘in danger’ list in 2007 although have since been removed, have applied regulations on the arrival and movement of visitors. Tourists are limited to 14 nights on a cruise ship and must not visit the same site more than once.

For more on how brands are tackling over-tourism, read the full report here.

Take Me to the Lakes by The Gentle Temper, Berlin Take Me to the Lakes by The Gentle Temper, Berlin
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