Bits & Bytes | Olapic, Knomi, Zady

Bits & Bytes is a monthly showcase of noteworthy digital innovations in the retail space, courtesy of research consultancy GDR Creative Intelligence.

User-generated imagery on the Heidi Klum for New Balance landing page | Source: Olapic

LONDON, United Kingdom — Whether it’s a new dress or a favourite pair of shoes, when customers love a product they often share it by posting pictures of it online. These pictures have traditionally lived within Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds. But this kind of endorsement often influences what others buy. Olapic is a “visual commerce” tool that is successfully exploiting the largely untapped commercial potential of these images by scanning hashtags on social platforms to find images of branded products being worn by real people in the real world, then curating and posting those images on e-commerce sites as inspiration for shoppers.

These images can be embedded into home pages and product pages, or live as part of an interactive gallery where each picture links to a page where customers can buy that necklace, dress or bag. Olapic can also be used for videos, as well as images, and looks just as good on a smartphone as it does on a laptop.

Shoe brand New Balance used Olapic to collect 6,000 Instagram photos in 120 days for an online campaign featuring Heidi Klum. The net result? A 39 percent increase in conversion rates. Right now, companies including Lululemon, Threadless, Coach, Lancôme, Steve Madden and Desigual are hoping Olapic can perform the same trick for their online brands.

Offline, very few customers are personally recognised by staff when they enter their favourite stores, even if they shop there regularly. Knomi (as in ‘know-me’) is a new app that shoppers can use to share their identities the moment they walk into a store.

The app uses mobile positioning technology to identify when customers walk into the store of a participating retailer. At that moment, their profile automatically pops-up on a sales associate’s iPad, which is loaded with a version of the same app. The profile includes a picture of the customer, when they last visited, their size, likes, dislikes, previous purchases, spending information and contact details. Customers can choose how much information they’re willing to share.

Outside of stores, the app is a messaging tool. If the customer has a question about a product, or if the sales associate wants to send a follow-up query about something they recently bought, they can do it through Knomi, which is set to launch in October.

Zady is a new kind of fashion and homewares online retailer with a focus on style, quality and sustainability. The company signs a contract with each of the brands it carries to confirm its “authenticity.” Each product that’s selected for sale on Zady is judged on whether it is made from high quality raw materials, locally-sourced, handmade, environmentally-conscious or Made in the USA. Icons on each product detail page display which criteria an item has successfully met. Online shoppers can also discover how and where their purchases were manufactured, as well as the back story of the designer who made it.

Zady is a part of the slow fashion movement, which encourages people to invest in high quality clothing instead of low-priced, mass-produced fashion that is harmful to workers and the environment. Prices range from $15 to $600 and around 5 percent of each sale goes to the Bootstrap Project, which works to revive global crafts and customs. The company plans to soon launch an iPad app.

Sheena Patel is features editor at GDR Creative Intelligence, a London-based foresight consultancy that identifies innovation in retail, branding and hospitality.