Tech Bytes from Retail & Tech No 15

The latest tech news to inform and inspire

  • Instagram commerce. In line with the trend of social media moving more into commerce, Instagram has expanded shopping features. As of Monday, users globally can now shop in the platform’s long-video format feature IGTV. Creators can add shopping tags directly on the feature, allowing followers to tap on the item and either shop through the Instagram app or the seller’s website. Instagram added that it will also begin testing shopping on its new short-video format Reels, later this year. Reels, which was heavily inspired by short-video platform TikTok, launched in August. The news came as Instagram celebrated its 10th anniversary.
  • More video shopping. A new e-commerce site launched last week that combines videos and user interaction with shopping. Called The Lobby, the site’s main content is shoppable videos posted by influencers. The videos are intended to show viewers how a product looks or feels in real-life. Influencers make short videos featuring them trying on the products and explaining what an item is like (for example, the fit and material of a garment). The bottom of each video features a ‘Shop Now’ button. When viewers hit the button, they can choose their size and add it to their shopping cart without leaving the video. At checkout, customers enter their credit card information, but are not immediately charged for the purchase. Shoppers have a two-week period to try on and return unwanted items. The site then charges customers for any items that are not returned within the 14-day period (with free shipping). The site currently only features apparel.
  • Pinterest goes shopping. Pinterest has rolled out new tools that it says brings it closer to its goal of making every pin shoppable. The platform will begin introducing ads into users’ visual search results, which it says will give retailers more places to promote pins and showcase ads where users like to shop. With in-store shopping in decline this year due to the pandemic, Pinterest says that the percentage of users who visited places to shop on its platform grew more than 50% in the first half of 2020. Also new to the UK is that Pinterest users will be able to shop within a home or fashion pin, shop their search results, shop from their boards and shop inspiration they see in the real world through Lens camera visual search.
  • Shopping days. A string of major retailers in the US are gearing up for the launch of promotional online shopping events – many of which will be held within the same week. Amazon’s Prime Day event is to take place on October 13 to 14, instead of its usual July date as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Walmart’s Big Save Event will take place digitally from October 11 to 15, starting two days earlier and ending a day later than Amazon’s Prime Day. The initiative is described as offering Black Friday-like savings on thousands of products across categories, including beauty. The event also includes free two-day shipping for orders over $35, with some qualifying for next-day delivery. Target too announced its promotional push with Target Deal Days, to be held on October 13 and 14 at the same time as Amazon’s Prime Day. Target says it will feature Black Friday pricing throughout the month of November.
  • JD.com ramps up livestreaming. Chinese e-commerce platform JD.com has launched a livestreaming base in Xi’an, China to help traditional businesses and local merchants expand their digital business. The new base’s goal is to establish a concentrated hub of livestreaming tools, including business resources and livestream talent. The online retailer has also launched a livestream contest, running from September 25-October 30. Prior to the contest, JD invited livestreaming coaches to train 100 shortlisted contestants. Sixteen Multi-Channel Networks (MCN), organizations that support video platforms’ channel owners, have already worked with the livestream base. Earlier this year, JD.com partnered with Chinese video sharing and livestreaming platform Kuaishou  to develop what it called a short video e-commerce livestreaming ecosystem. The partnership essentially sees JD providing product, delivery and after-sales to Kuaishou, while Kuaishou’s anchors do livestreaming and short video marketing.
  • Digital services for fragrance. Italian fragrance brand The Merchant of Venice (Mavive) is to launch a digital personal shopping service in a bid to offer human contact with shoppers online and re-create the interaction they would have had with staff in-store. Through a live platform on the brand’s website, customers can interact with fragrance specialists who will guide them through the brand’s collections. The specialist presents and explains each fragrance to the customer, offering personalized feedback and recommendations based on needs and preferences.
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