LONDON, United Kingdom — Saying "I saw this and thought of you" is often all it takes to make someone feel special. Helping luxury brands communicate this sentiment to their customers is Iras, a new app that provides shoppers with a feed of clothes that have been hand-picked for them by the stylists and sales associates at their favourite stores.
After setting up an account, customers can add specific retailers to their feed and connect with the sales associates who they usually shop with. The sales associates, in turn, use the app to recommend new products based on the wealth of information they often already know about the customer: their personal style, their size and what they've loved, hated and purchased in the past.
Customers can use the app to reserve items in-store, set up an in-store appointments or get additional advice from sales associates via a direct messaging function.
"Luxury is all about that one-to-one relationship with someone who knows and understands you in-store. [The] Iras app provides a way for luxury brands to enhance and extend that — and it also draws customers back into the store,” said Tony King, creative director of King & Partners, the digital agency that developed the app with creative technologist Basil Farano.
According to Chris Teso, founder of Chirpify, “hashtags are the new URL.” The Portland, Oregon-based company is turning social networks into sales channels with "actiontags" — a play on hashtags — which makes it possible for users to link their payment details to their Twitter accounts and make purchases directly on the platform.
Earlier this month, sportswear giant Adidas used Chripify’s "actiontags" for an exclusive "Twitter sale" of RGIII American football trainers. To buy a pair of the shoes, signed by Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffins III, ahead of their official launch, sports fans could simply tweet the brand using the special actiontags "#BUY" and "#TheRGIII."
“Until now, hashtags in marketing material have been passive. With actiontags, brands can make their hashtags actionable, whether that’s inspiring a transaction or instigating more active conversations,” explained Chirpify spokesperson Sarah Schroeder.
Adidas is just one of many brands which have been experimenting with the platform in recent months. Others include Forever 21 and Origins.
Elsewhere in the world of payments, iZettle (a company named after the concept of "settling a debt") is allowing merchants to accept credit card payments via smartphone and tablet. The platform is much like Jack Dorsey's mobile payments system Square, but has the added advantage of a chip and PIN reader that allows it to work in Europe, where credit card security technology is more advanced than in the US.
In the fashion space, the platform is currently being used by accessories brand Cambridge Satchel Company and menswear chain Percival, as well as at pop-ups staged by J.Crew and Levi’s.
iZettle takes a small percentage of each transaction, depending on a merchant's total monthly sales. The more they sell, the less they pay. The service also provides merchants with free analytics tools, so they can track sales and identify loyal customers. Headquartered in Sweden, iZettle is currently live in nine markets, including the UK, Sweden, Finland, Brazil and Mexico.
Sheena Patel is features editor at GDR Creative Intelligence, a London-based foresight consultancy that identifies innovation in retail, branding and hospitality.