Tech Bytes from Retail & Tech No 17

The latest tech news to inform and inspire

  • Boosting online stores. UK-based brand Charlotte Tilbury has launched a suite of new digital features on its website in the run-up to the holiday shopping season. The services include free personalized virtual consultations with a Charlotte Tilbury expert, AR-powered product try-ons and a 24/7 live chat for customer service. It will also unveil a 3D virtual store, which it describes as bringing the in-store shopping experience online. The store features what the brand calls Charlotte Tilbury’s magical avatar. Customers can invite friends to shop together and participate in live events with Charlotte Tilbury and her guests where they will present beauty tricks, tutorials and tips.
  • Google pushes commerce. Google-owned video platform YouTube is gearing up for an e-commerce push. According to Bloomberg, YouTube has started asking creators to tag and track products they include in their videos, which will then link to analytics and shopping tools from parent company Google. The search giant is also said to be testing a tie-up with e-commerce platform Shopify to sell products via YouTube, with the aim of turning video content (such as users’ filming product hauls or product reviews and reveals) into a digital catalog that viewers can click and buy.
  • SMS for shopping. It may seem low-tech, but the simple text is becoming a more important tool for shopping. US-based small-and-medium-sized businesses saw a 450% increase in texts from consumers, according to data collected between March and June by virtual answering service Numa. The company says that the data shows there is growing demand for conversational commerce, with texts providing a way for businesses to communicate about store openings, curbside pick-up and online orders. Some 93% of consumers consider text messaging to be a trusted communication tool, while nine out of 10 consumers said they would like to communicate with businesses through text message. The company reported 748% growth in texts relating to check-ins for curbside orders during the March-June period, with 11% of all messages being related to curbside pick-up coordination.
  • Buy now, pay later heats up. Payment service PayPal is moving into the UK’s growing ‘buy now, pay later’ space. The company launched payment installment service PayPal Pay in 3, allowing UK businesses to offer ‘buy now, pay later’ services without taking on additional risk or paying more fees. The ‘buy now pay later’ model has gained traction during the pandemic, with more retailers looking to integrate such payment solutions from companies like Klarna or Afterpay. Klarna UK is featured on retailers like Asos and Feelunique, which are popular with 20-something consumers. US-based retailer Macy’s has become an investor in fintech company Klarna and has partnered with the service for its payment installment plan. PayPal’s new service in the UK is available on higher price point items, which could differentiate it from competitors.
  • Snapchat faces the music. Social-media platform Snapchat launched a new feature that allows users to add music to their posts. Called Sounds, users can add music to their Snaps (pre- and post-capture) from a wide-ranging catalog. The platform is also conducting a test that would allow users to create their own sounds and add them to Snaps. The move is a response to TikTok, whose short-form videos set to music have seen a resounding success. A string of TikTok lookalikes have emerged over the past six months, including Instagram Reels.
  • TikTok results. US-based Revlon has seen a strong response to a new campaign it launched on TikTok with beauty and style influencers. Called #DoItBold, the brand uploaded its own sound, also called Do It Bold, in collaboration with music production group Wiidope. The campaign sees users lip syncing to the lyrics and showcasing their make-up. Revlon uploaded the sound and accompanying video to its own TikTok page on October 16. As of October 20, the sound has been used for 3,899 videos and the #DoItBold hashtag has resgistered three billion views. The brand has partnered with TikTok beauty and fashion users who collectively have a TikTok following of 82.2 million.