Tech Bytes from Retail & Tech No 22

The latest tech news to inform and inspire


  • Digital fragrance sampling. Brazilian start-up Noar has developed a digital device, which it describes as offering a new way to sample perfumes in-store or in the direct-sales channel. Called MultiScent20, the tablet-sized device is controlled by a mobile app, where users can browse a fragrance catalog, find product information and choose to sample certain scents, which are then diffused from the device. The device disperses what the company calls a “dry odor” which leaves no particles in the air, device or on the user. Through the device, brands and retailers can access user data and information on purchasing habits. The device is seen as an alternative way of sampling fragrance in stores, which sometimes do not provide or distribute traditional samples, and so will enable fragrance brands to reach more consumers, the company says. The device will be distributed by sampling manufacturer Orlandi.


  • Perfume robots. Fragrance brand The Perfumer’s Story has launched an online fragrance recommendation tool powered by what it calls an industry-first robotic perfumer. Called AI.zz, the virtual robot guides users through six questions to help find a fragrance according to style and scent preferences. AI.zz was designed to loosely resemble The Perfumer’s Story founder Azzi Glasser. Glasser says AI.zz is a response to the need for digitally-based fragrance shopping services when in-person sampling is not available.


  • Snapchat looks to short videos. Snapchat is the latest social-media platform to launch vertically scrollable, short-video content, mimicking TikTok’s popular interface. Called Spotlight, the platform is inviting users to submit content and Snapchat says it will distribute over $1m to creators publishing the best content until the end of 2020. The move is similar to TikTok’s Creator Fund, which launched in July and pays US-based content creators to keep them on the app. The company says videos that appear in a user’s feed are based on viewing behavior and liked content.


  •, Singles’ Day & Gen X. Chinese e-commerce platform’s Singles Day promotion, which ran from November 1 to 11 generated Rmb271.5bn ($41.1bn) in transaction volume. JD sold over 300 million new products during the promotional period and over 264 brands achieved over Rmb100m ($15.23m) in sales. JD says the event saw an increase in participation from Gen X and baby boomers. Among new app users, nearly 40% are over 36-years-old, while 25.3% are under 25, says QuestMobile. notes that Gen X and baby boomers who previously preferred making purchases using cash are shifting to mobile payments. Consumers in lower-tier cities also flocked to the platform – in the first five minutes on November 11, transaction volume generated by lower-tier city consumers was up 12 times on last year.


  • Listening to YouTube. YouTube has launched audio advertising to help companies reach visitors who use the video platform to listen to content rather than watch it. The ads will not be audio-only, but the ad message will be strongly focused in the audio part. YouTube says that in its tests, more than 75% of audio ad campaigns on the platform saw a significant lift in brand awareness.


  • Vanishing messages. Twitter, Instagram and Facebook Messenger, have all launched their own versions of disappearing messages – similar to those from the original disappearing-message social-media platform Snapchat. Twitter just introduced vanishing posts called Fleets, which disappear after 24 hours. It says users feel more comfortable sharing thoughts when they know the posts are not permanent. Meanwhile, Facebook introduced Vanish Mode for Messenger and Instagram, where users can send text, pictures and voice messages that vanish after the content has been seen and users leave the chat.


  • Cosmetify goes mobile. UK-based beauty price comparison site Cosmetify has launched an app ahead of Black Friday. The site, which launched in 2019 and claims to allow shoppers to find the best prices on beauty products, sources price information thanks to partnerships with 138 retailers, including high street shops like John Lewis and Boots and online retailers like Cult Beauty, Beauty Bay and Asos. Cosmetify says prices are refreshed every few hours and customers can sign up for price reduction and sales alerts. On average, a Cosmetify shopper saves 34%, with the saving on some products topping 80%, the company says. The site currently lists 1,710 brands and 405,704 products.


  • Be part of the new Beauty Tech Live community. Beauty Tech Live is to create a new community for executives interested in how tech will impact the beauty business. The community will bring together executives across the beauty and tech industries at the inaugural Beauty Tech Live virtual event, which will take place from April 12-16, with the aim of offering an opportunity to exchange, discuss and learn more about how tech is driving change in the beauty industry. This new pioneering event will enable visitors interested in Beauty Tech to chat with each other in real-time, hold video meetings and meet and ask experts questions about improving their tech know-how and better integrating digital and new technologies into their business. It will also be a key platform for networking. Find out more


  • Shopify teams up with Alibaba. Shopify merchants will be able to better reach Chinese consumers due to a new deal with Chinese e-wallet payment system Alipay. Up until now, Shopify offered Alipay as a payment method through third-party providers; however through its latest partnership, Shopify merchants can now offer customers a more seamless checkout and tap into Chinese holiday and shopping events, like the Lunar New Year in February and the 11.11 global shopping festival. Shopify notes that US-based businesses earned more than $5.4bn in sales from Chinese consumers during Alibaba’s 11.11 festival, making the US the top international market during the event. Alipay has more than one billion active users in China alone.