Tag: innovation

More Subway & Less Runway, Getting Wearable Tech In Front of Buyers

I love Hussein Chalayan. To me he is the originator of wearable technology. While his pieces are more runway and less subway, I believe that he crosses the barriers between the tech imaginary and fashion- simply amazing. The new wave of fashion tech designers are looking to go beyond the runway and start to make products that can be added to the closet and worn regularly.

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Technology and fashion can mean many things, not just adding lights to a jacket. Designers these days are looking to create new materials, fibers and design products that are symbiotic with your lifestyle- aesthetics first. While designers have been playing with new wearable tech products for a few years it has yet to be taken seriously by the mass market. Maybe because wearable tech sounds funny?

Aside from renaming the industry (a personal thought), there needs to be a platform to sell these products. Do they fit in the advanced contemporary market? Is it aspirational luxury? How does one classify? Tech News reported back in April that TopShop was sponsoring a contest with Imarks to support brands in gaining visibility from buyers. TopShop was also providing free business education and mentoring. Its important to see relevant players in the retail space get behind fostering new talent especially in wearable tech since the field is very young.

Fashion tech

Just a couple weeks ago, Mashable reported on the new press on nails by Oyster that allow you to hop on your subway ride with your nails! Talk about simplicity.

For designers who are interested in innovating into wearable tech I suggest signing up for the Third Wave Fashion blog. They are one of the first accelerator programs specifying in fashion technology. If you happen to live in Paris, I suggest checking out the accelerator program sponsored by Galeries Lafayette: Lafayette Plug & Play. It is a dual program between Paris and Silicon Valley. You will get the opportunity to be mentored by VP’s at Birchbox, Galeries Lafayette and Farfetch, and have the opportunity to work with VC’s in shaping your business. You can apply here.

As the former Director of startup, AHAlife, I know how amazing and energizing it can be to work in the tech space. It can also be demanding. There are unchartered waters you are entering and unlike traditional business models you are mastering the synergy between U/X, utility and product. There is more on the line when you work with investors, so I suggest taking your product ideas to platforms like Indiegogo (check out this cool campaign by Zenta) where you can crowdfund the resources to play with new ideas. I remember backing a project that ultimately never came to market (FIN), and I wonder how many other projects on this list will never ship (Digital Trends). But that is part of the fun of it. We are in an age of exploring. What you make today might be irrelevant next year. We all know that we need to wear pants, so I guess if we wanted to play it safe we would go into that market. But that’s just not the beauty of life. We were all meant to make something happen, and if fashion tech speaks to you “Bon Chance”.

I am a retail strategist and consultant for startup and growth stage fashion brands and retailers. Working through a business model? Email hello@scalingretail.com

Video: Retail Roundup: Sears Click-to-Car App & Small Biz Innovation


www.ScalingRetail.com

@ScalingRetail

Sears launched a new App that allows customers to purchase from their phone, drive to the store, and have a customer service rep come to the car and drop off the package. How can small businesses diversify their strategies? Watch on.

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Hi, and welcome to Scaling Retail, this is Syama Meagher. This week, I’d like to chat with you about some new retail technologies. In particular, Sears launched a new mobile app by which they allow their customers to participate in something called “click to store.” In fact, it’s more like “click to car.” What does this app allow you to do? Well, in essence, you can place an order over your app and drive to the Sears store, stay in your car, and someone will come out and deliver your product to your car. Now of course, there are a lot of different things that might make this a little bit more challenging.

Can you imagine if you’re driving to the parking lot, and your customer is coming out there and looking for the product? And then you have a sales associate running around all over the parking lot, trying to find you? This might make it a little bit more challenging, but it is a very interesting concept to think about, especially as you as a small business, take a look and find all the different ways in which you can start to service your client better. How can you make the shopping experience more seamless, and how can you provide them different ways of taking home your product? Now of course, during the holiday times, you see a lot of free same day delivery, free shipping, courier services and things like that. Or even free international shipping. Most of those things can start to be expensive, when you start to take a look at the number of orders you’re getting, and how it’s really eating into your margins.

What I would suggest doing is trying to find certain points during the year, that perhaps a larger retail chain of stores aren’t necessarily doing these promotional activities, and finding ways of tapping into your customer. So, for example, we all know the big guys do things around Labor Day, President’s Day, and other types of big holidays. But what if you as a small business, initiated your own holiday, and your own opportunity to do these little perks? You know, this will absolutely set you apart from your competition, and also provide you with a different way of communicating to your customer on those days, when they’re not necessarily bombarded by larger retailers.

So, hopefully, the Sears program goes well, and they find that customers are responding well to that technology. But think critically as a business owner, and as a small brand. How can you communicate more effectively to your customer, and what are the things that you can offer from a technology standpoint – whether it’s an app, whether it’s free shipping via the app. How are you starting to drive people to purchase through you, in more innovative ways? All right, I hope you have a great weekend, and I’ll talk to you soon. Thanks. Bye.

Startup Cheat Codes: 7 awesome cloud-based tools that destroy unnecessary business expenses, wasted time and frustration.

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Post by Ryan Gilbert:

Startup Cheat Codes: 7 awesome cloud-based tools that destroy unnecessary business expenses, wasted time and frustration.

Juggling 1-8 different roles as a small business owner can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. 

Web apps have become powerful business tools over the past few years, sight unseen, right under the noses of entrepreneurs.

While building my own business, I discovered these online resources that saved me thousands in outsourcing fees and working hours. They’re all accessible by internet, intuitive and best of all, free (with 1 exception).

Website creation

Strikingly.com

Strikingly makes it really hard to come up with a good excuse for not having a professional website. They feature free, amazing templates that you can quickly personalize using their intuitive interface.

Stats

Time efficiency: high
Time cost: 1 hour to create a professional website, portfolio or product page
$ Savings: $100-$1,000 depending on your previous website design plans

Drawbacks: You have to upgrade to premium to use your custom domain.You’re limited to 1 site from the start.

Graphic Design

Canva.com

Canva is a Godsend if you don’t know Photoshop. Anyone can use this cloud-based graphic design tool to make near-professional designs. You get access to Canva’s free library of icons, designs and drawings; higher-quality photos start at just $1.

Stats

Time efficiency: medium
Time cost: 30 minutes-2 hours to create a design, depending on you experience in the field
$ Savings: $100-200, compared to hiring a graphic designer
$50/month compared to Adobe Creative Cloud with Photoshop

Drawbacks: If you’re using Canva, you’re probably no Picasso. You can make good graphic designs on here, but it takes some time. Still, it’s considerably less time than learning photoshop or explaining the project to a consultant that lives across the world.

Management Dashboard / CRM / Sales

Insightly.com

Insightly is the best free control center for any business in regard to sales, leads and administration.  Look no further for a CRM solution.

A free membership on Insightly.com offers:

  • To-do lists, contacts storage
  • Lead and project tabs for team-based tasks
  • Email alerts and reports
  • Syncing with Google Apps & Email

Stats

Time efficiency: medium/high
Time cost: 1-2 hours to set-up
$ Savings: $65/month, compared to Salesforce Professional package (similar to Free features on Insightly)

Drawbacks: Lacks some of the neat, Premium Salesforce features

Management, outsourcing

Fiverr.com

“One of the top 10 reasons for entrepreneurial failure is not delegating the “intelligent grunt work.”
-David Newman

Fiverr lets you do just that: outsource your work- for cheap. Freelancers on the website offer specific jobs and name their price. Work is sold by the ‘gig,’ which always costs $5.

The amount of work for $5 will buy you varies with each freelancer, but here are a few examples of things that cost $5:

  • Logos
  • Infographics
  • Site traffic, marketing, SEO optimization
  • User feedback, testimonials

You can also request a specific job to be done and multiple freelancers will come to your aid. The website’s review and workflow system makes it easy to stay productive and find the best bang for your buck.

Stats

Time efficiency: High
Initial time investment: 1-2 hours to register, find the right Freelancer, and provide directions for their work
$ Savings: Pennies on the dollar compared to similar freelance jobs on other sites; no fees for the buyers

Drawbacks: High demand drives up wait queues for work anywhere from 1-14 days.

Marketing, A/B Testing, Landing Pages

Unbounce.com

UnBounce is a free marketing tool used to create landing pages, sales pages and test marketing strategies. You still have to plan your marketing strategy well and ensure your landing page generates conversions. That being considered, it’s an incredibly cheap and effective way to analyze useful data.

Stats

Time efficiency: medium/low, depending on experience in marketing
Time cost: 2-3 hours to set up an account and landing page
$ Savings: $500, compared to hiring a website designer or marketing specialist

Drawbacks: Larger learning curve, unless you’re already experienced in online marketing

Accounting, Finance and Budgets

Waveapps.com

Wave Accounting can give you the productivity of a CFO with the requisite knowledge of Accounting 101. Wave can track all business expenses via linked bank accounts. Premium starts at $9/month, based around increased customer support.

These features come standard in the free version:

  • Financial snapshots and graphs of your business
  • Invoices, receipts, bills, accounting
  • Multiple users, auto-generated accounting reports

Stats

Time efficiency: Very high
Time cost: 1-2 hours to set up financial accounts and adjust balances or transaction categories (which you’ll likely need to do)
$ Savings: Compared to QuickBooks, $50-200

Drawbacks: I can’t think of any significant cons! Please let me know if you’ve spotted any.

Automation, Administration

IFTTT.com

IFTTT is an automated web system that runs on simple recipes which make it execute tasks throughout the internet.

It can perform administrative work but can also save you a significant amount of time.

Stats

Time efficiency: high
Time cost: 1 hour to set up a few good recipes that will save you tons of time in the long run
$ Savings: $0- unless you decide to fire your administrative assistant

Drawbacks: Can be distracting and superfluous for many tasks.
You might find yourself automating systems you don’t use all that much because it’s just so much fun.

“You don’t need to have a 100-person company to develop that idea.

– Larry Page, Google

And you don’t need a team of full-time employees to pursue your business, product or blog. Free resources can be leveraged to offset smaller profits margins from small operations or increased competition. It’s not about learning the algorithms or advanced techniques behind these tools. When you’re starting out, it’s about utilizing what you can to move forward as quickly as possible.

Ryan B. Gilbert
linkd.in

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Video: Retail Roundup: Walmart & the $10M Made in USA Innovation Fund


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@ScalingRetail

Walmart just announced the investment of $10M into an innovation fund geared to Made in USA manufacturing and production. How can small businesses take advantage? Watch in this week’s Retail Roundup.

Hi. Welcome to the Retail Roundup. This is Syama Meagher from Scaling Retail. This week I’d like to chat with you about Walmart. Walmart recently announced that they’d be investing $10 million into a fund to help with the resurgence of domestic production here in the United States.

Just last year they listed that they were going to spend over $50 billion buying products, and scaling them from the United States into all of their marketplaces. This is a fantastic thing that we’re hearing. Mostly because in the last few years you might have heard, as a small business, that made in the U.S.A., made in New York, made in Los Angeles, all of these are becoming really hot button issues, in terms of how do we start to redevelop the economy here?

How do we use that from a branding standpoint, and how do we communicate that with our customers in a way that’s meaningful? Even if you are someone who doesn’t necessarily believe in shopping at a Walmart or necessarily their business practices, and you’re a small business, the ways that you can really take advantage of what they’re positioning to do is to look into your manufacturing options.

Look into the companies that you’re currently doing business with, and encourage them to apply for this type of funding. Ultimately, the more funding that we’re able to get and the more money that we can get back into domestic production, the lower your costs are going to be to be able to produce here domestically.

Recently, we’ve been hearing a lot about how expensive it is to produce in China. Of course, in terms of not only their poor practices with factories and manufacturing, but of course when ports are closed, now that China is moving a lot of their production offshore… So Africa is becoming a new place for production for China. It’s really hard as a small brand to figure out, “Where should I produce? What’s going to be the most economical, and how can I use that not only financially, but from a branding standpoint?”

Well, initiatives like this Walmart $10 million innovation fund for domestic production are great for you. Primarily if you have, again, factories and brands who you believe in who are currently looking to scale up their operations, especially if they’re looking to maybe hire new staff and find new ways of bringing manufacturing back home. So definitely suggest to your fellow manufacturing counterpart to take a look at something like this.

Now, from a branding standpoint, of course, you’re starting to see “Made in the U.S.A.” tagged all over. I would foresee that in the next six to 18 months you’re going to see more solidified logos and ways of trademarking this. Keep your eyes out for it. The consumer is becoming more educated. They’re starting to look for these things in terms of where it’s been produced, manufactured, and designed. You’re going to start to see some more funding and resources available here domestically to get that done.

All right, hope you have a great weekend. Talk to you soon. Bye.