Chicago, IL – Shop.org Annual Summit

Sorry for the late update! I got back from my trip to Chicago for the Shop.org Annual Summit on Wednesday the 2nd. I had such a great time! I met so many people, networked, heard great speakers, made some great friends from my university, and just overall really enjoyed myself.

Chicago McCormick Place Convention Center

This is a picture of the McCormick Convention Center. I stayed at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place Hotel. It was really nice and convenient since it is connected to the convention center. And yes, those are fireworks coming from a nearby stadium (I am guessing the US Cellular Field?).

Chicago River

The pictures above are just a few pictures from the Chicago area. I did most of my exploring on Sunday. I visited the Willis Tower, Navy Pier (best thing was the Chicago-style hot dog), Michigan Avenue, Cloud Gate in Millennium Park, and had Chicago-style pizza at Pizza Due (refer to above picture of Mr. Last eating a large salad). I had so much fun exploring! Chicago is a beautiful city.

The conference was busy with speeches from keynote speakers, breakout sessions, and networking in the Expo Hall.

The first day, Monday, consisted of a student program for the selected NRFSA members that were able to attend. Scot Wingo, CEO of ChannelAdvisor, and Vicki Cantrell, SVP and Executive Director of Shop.org, talked about retail and the future. We, the students, then got to hear from people with “cool retail jobs” varying from a Social Media Manager for Anthropologie to an Analytics and Email Operations Executive from Estée Lauder. The best part of the student program was hearing from the executives! Bob Myers (President and CEO of Sheplers Western Wear), Mindy Grossman (CEO of HSN), Sona Chawla (President of E-Commerce at Walgreen Co.), David Bolotsky (Founder and CEO of Uncommon Goods, LLC), and Matthew Siegel (EVP of E-Commerce at ANN Inc.). I had SUCH a great time hearing from all of the speakers at the student session.

For dinner on Monday night, we went to Chinatown and I tried very interesting dishes. I had jellyfish, sizzling salted fish and eggplant, a longan bubble tea, and I tried a bite of my friend’s red bean dessert. I really enjoyed it!

Tuesday consisted of great keynote speakers like Miki Berardelli (CMO of Tory Burch), Matt Marcotte (SVP, Global Stores of Tory Burch), and Jonah Berger (Author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On). I actually got the book signed by Jonah Berger and took a picture with him!

During our breaks we explored and networked in the Expo Hall. It was great! And we had a little bit of fun… like trying out the oxygen bar, winning Skullcandy Headphones, and getting tons of free stuff!

Tuesday night was the networking and reception at The Field Museum. They had delicious hors d’oeuvres (mini sandwiches, little squares of unique pizzas, etc.). What was also cool is that we could explore the exhibits for free!

I really enjoyed Chicago and hope I get to visit again soon. I really enjoyed the Shop.org 2013 Summit as well. I would LOVE to attend next year! It was a great learning experience and a great opportunity for a young student perusing a career in Digital Retailing.

For more photos, please view my Flickr set!
Or my public Instagram: My_Trip_to_ShopOrg_Summit13

Technology & Fashion

So before I start my weekend full of studying and reading, I decided I would make a quick blog post about tech-fashion. I just wanted to share some photos that really interest me.

I. Mary Huang

The top few images are created by a designer, Mary Huang, who specializes in wearable technology. I have blogged about her designs (artwork) in the past and cannot get over how amazing her ideas are. She has made fashion items from 3D printers to dresses with printed images to beautiful outfits with LED lights.

II. LEDs in Dresses

The next few images are dresses with LED lights. I really wish I could own such cool dresses! If only clothing with LED lights were sold in stores. One of the images features Katy Perry wearing a dress with LED lights at the Met Gala. The image is kind of old (from 2010), but nevertheless, still fascinates me.

III. Fashionable Technology

The last few images are of Google Glass and the Galaxy Gear Smartwatch. I really wish I could own both of these products.


Videos:

Video of dress with LEDs: Illuminate on Vimeo.


Cupcake ATM

Vending machines that sell food, say what?!

The Sprinkles Cupcake ATM has finally arrived in Dallas, TX! What an amazing invention. For those of you who may be wondering, “What is a Cupcake ATM?” I have an answer! The Cupcake ATM is more like a vending machine than a traditional ATM. The only difference is that the Cupcake ATM sells cupcakes, obviously. A customer can pick up a cupcake 24/7. Just swipe your debit/credit card, choose a flavor of cupcake, and the ATM does the rest. The cupcakes vary from the famous red velvet flavor to doggie cupcakes. They even have vegan and sugar free cupcakes! If you are craving a cupcake at 3 am, Sprinkles has your back. The only hassle I experienced was the extremely long line to get a cupcake and try out the new ATM. I waited in line for about an hour. I was extremely tired and a bit hungry once I finally reached the Cupcake ATM. Unfortunately, waiting in line for an hour defeated the purpose of the Cupcake ATM. Usually, a cupcake lover can just approach the Cupcake ATM and purchase their cupcake on the spot. Talk about convenience! Not sure if many people purchase the cupcakes during the day, but the vending machine is great for night owls. I did a bit of research and read that the Cupcake ATM can hold up to 400 cupcakes. Sprinkles sells their cupcakes for about $4. Imagine if all of the cupcakes sell after store hours. That is a lot of revenue! And a lot of cupcakes!

Not really a new idea…

So much hype has been created because of the Cupcake ATM, but if we all lived in Asia we would be so used to vending machines that sold food items. Vending machines that sell perishable foods are extremely common in Asia. They even have library vending machines where a customer can just rent or purchase books from the machine. (Very different from RedBox!) My retail marketing professor told me that they have live crabs in vending machines in China. I cannot imagine being able to purchase a crab from a vending machine. I have also heard of vending machines in Japan that dispense fresh beer. There are a few unique food vending machines in the United States as well. Check out this site to see 24 unique vending machines. The world of retail is changing every second. Food related vending machines are such a great idea. Consumers can walk a short distance to buy food instead of getting in their car to pick something up. I wonder what the future of vending machines in retail will be like? What unique technology will be next?!

Awful quality video of the new Cupcake ATM in Dallas
(Made on my iPhone through the Instagram app):

RFID & Retail

RFID!

I know the concept of RFID and retail has been going on for a while now, but I really started to process how amazing it would be if all retail shops used RFID technology. RFID stands for radio frequency identification. As of now, RFID technology is a bit too expensive for most retailers to use RFID on all of their items. There are three types of RFID tags: active, semi-passive, and passive tags. Basically, active and semi-passive tags are the most expensive and can track up to 100 feet. If additional batteries are added, then that could increase a tag’s range to over 300 feet. Passive tags are slightly cheaper (7 to 20 cents) and can track items up to 20 feet. RFID is being used to reduce warehouse and distribution labor costs, reduce point-of-sale labor costs, save on inventory, eliminate counterfeit merchandise, reduce theft, and reduce out-of-stock conditions.


What about on individual items?

American Apparel used RFID on each individual item to improve the inventory on the floor. They would know when something was out of stock and could quickly replace it using RFID. If every retailer could afford to have passive RFID tags on their merchandise, then maybe consumers would never have to worry about an items being out of stock.


How to make the shopping experience easier.

I saw a great commercial advertising an elderly woman walking out of a grocery store with all of her items. She did not have to stop at the checkout to purchase her items. She just walked right out of the store! I thought about this for a while… It would be amazing if I could shop at my favorite retail shops and just walk out of the door. One thing I really hate about shopping is waiting in line to purchase my items. Yes, I do enjoy the social interaction, but if I could save time and not have to wait in line I would.

I then started to think about the perfect fashion retailer. Imagine if you could walk into an extremely organized store; clean, simple, no lines. You use a mobile device to browse the clothing, check the items you want to try on, use a virtual dressing room that accurately measures your body for correct sizing, then send the information of items you want to purchase to the main computer in the store. The computer then uses RFID to track down the items and an employee gathers the items for you while you are about to leave the dressing room area. The employee then tracks you through your phone, hands you the items you want to purchase, and you just walk out the store. The RFID would track the items to you and automatically charge your account. It would be extremely simple and save so much time. But by that time we may all have 3D printers and can just print the merchandise we want from our home. Either way, RFID is something to look out for in the future of retail.

3D Printers & Fashion

I was asked again to write as a guest blogger for Join’Em. I decided to write about 3D printers and how the technology affects fashion. The world of retail is changing because of 3D printers. I am extremely interested in technology and how it can change our future. Since I am double majoring in Merchandising and Digital Retailing I thought that writing about 3D printers would be a great idea! I really want to buy one now. I think I will ask for a 3D printer for my birthday…

Click this link to view the blog I wrote for Join’Em: 3D Printers & Fashion

Continuum Fashion, True Meaning of Fashion + Technology

Jenna Fizel and Mary Huang are inspirational. Their company, Continuum Fashion, is the true meaning of fashion and technology. They have extremely unique ideas that represent the future. Their company is something that I am completely interested in and all about! Check out these videos:

Gameboy Color

Recently, I became interested modifying my Gameboy Color. I had attempted with my own GBC, but the screen ended up breaking. Luckily, I had a backup clear GBC to modify. I ended up using a clear GBC, spray painting the inside, and changing the buttons and on/off switch to clear. I absolutely LOVE my Gameboy Color!! The process definitely took awhile (2 to 3 hours), but it was worth it in the end! Now I can play my old games in the dark when I lay in bed. Or even when the sun goes down and I am relaxing in my living room. You can play old/fun games anywhere and everywhere! All you need is a few things: SP light with screen, a Gameboy Color, specific screwdrivers (tri-wing & phillips), resistor, wire, solder with solder iron, and patience. Here are small images of SOME of the beginning steps of starting the modification process: 

I also spray painted the inside of my Gameboy Color with pink Krylon spray paint. Remember to put tape over the screen and anywhere you do not want paint!!

In the end, the Gameboy Color should end up like this in the dark. So cool!<3

Blogging Day #5

Wearable Technology:
Where Technology Meets Fashion

Technology and fashion go hand and hand. The idea of techno-fashion, “the new wave of intelligent clothing that fuses fashion with communication technology, electronic textiles, and sophisticated design innovations that express new ideas about appearance, construction and wearability,” has boomed in the 21st century (Quinn, 2012). Everything from LED light necklaces to wearable jackets that play music are seen in closets across the world. Fashion affects the way people express themselves. Technology is another outlet of expression as well. Together, fashion and technology make a huge impact on the way the world is viewed.

Trikoton is a clothing company that uses technology to create fashion. By combining these two elements, a creative pattern is created. All the buyer has to do is speak into a microphone through a computer. Whether the buyer is “reading a love letter to [their] sweetie, reciting [their] favorite poem, or just gabbing about [themselves], [the] audio message gets woven into the very fabric of [their] clothing” (Meinhold, 2010). The idea of recording sounds through technology allows for a personal feel when wearing the Trikoton clothing. Trikoton allows the buyer to have a unique look through a unique sound.

The Playbutton is a fashionable MP3 player that clips onto any piece of clothing as an accessory. Each Playbutton device is a “MP3-player-in-a-button, comes preloaded with a complete album, along with a rechargeable lithium battery and toggles to pause, skip, and adjust the volume” (Meinhold, 2011). Of course there are MP3 players such as the Apple iPod, but the Playbutton allows the buyer to have a unique accessory geared towards a fashionable look.

Overall, technology flatters fashion. Through fashion, technology becomes an interesting accessory and a fashion item. The intricate way technology and fashion come together forecasts the future of the “techno-fashion” look and not only the “techno-fashion” look, but where our world is going with technology and fashion.

References

Chua, Jasmin M. (2011, April). 10 Futuristic Inventions in Wearable Tech. Retrieved from: http://mylifescoop.com/featured-stories/2011/04/10-futuristic-inventions-in-wearable-tech.html?page=1.

Meinhold, Bridgette. (2011, March). Playbutton is a Wearable Mix Tape You Can Pin on your Sleeve. Retrieved from: http://www.ecouterre.com/playbutton-a-wearable-mix-tape-you-can-pin-on-your-sleeve/.

Meinhold, Bridgette. (2010, September). Trikoton Custom-Makes Clothing Based on the Sound of your Voice. Retrieved from: http://www.ecouterre.com/trikoton-custom-makes-clothing-based-on-the-sound-of-your-voice/.

Quinn, Bradley. (n.d.). Techno Fashion. Retrieved from Berg Publishers website: http://www.bergpublishers.com/?tabid=982.

Blogging Day #2

Social Networking:
Impact on Retailers and Merchandisers

Social networking services have an enormous impact on retailers and merchandisers. A social networking service is a website such as Facebook, Twitter, and/or Google + that brings a group of individuals with similar interests together onto one Internet website. These particular websites allows for friends, co-workers, classmates, and et cetera to share ideas and thoughts on different topics. For example, if one person posts a status about H&M and how they love the fashion-forward clothing on Facebook, then a friend will read the status (like/comment) and think to themselves that they need to take a trip to H&M. This is like free advertising for H&M and other retailers alike. According to recent statistics, “81 percent of respondents said they’d received advice from friends and followers relating to a product purchase through a social site; 74 percent of those who received such advice found it to be influential in their decision” (Bazaar, 2012). It seems as technology develops and social networking services become more popular the more publicity retailers and merchandisers get with online shopping.

Google has recently started to develop a new tool called “Search, Plus Your World.” This tool “enables consumers signed into Google to click a button near the top of the search results page to call forth content from the Google + social network” (Rueter, 2012). This the new tool created by Google allows someone looking for a particular product to “find that someone within her Google + circle also has bought the item from a particular merchant and then clicked the +1 button to indicate that she liked the product or company” (Reuter, 2012). This means that retailers will get more publicity and sales due to “free” social networking advertising from buyers who post on social networking websites.

Social networking services allow for a trustworthy environment amongst people with similar taste. People will trust a friend’s opinion about a product before they trust a random person’s opinion about a product or store. The trustworthiness will allow merchandisers to grab the attention of customers and influence the shopping experience based on social network friends. The “basis of social merchandising is to provide online shoppers a sense of validation in their online shopping experience” (Cross, 2012).

Overall, social networking services impact retailers and merchandisers by allowing potential customers to gain trust from friends who post information on stores and certain products on websites such a Facebook, Google+, and/or Twitter. Social networking websites also allow for a way of advertising products. With the use of the Internet and websites, retailers gain buyers and viewers who may not visit stores as often. The social networking services provided on the Internet impact retailers and merchants by giving a way to view products and read reviews posted by acquaintances on websites allowing for advertising and trust in the product.

References

Bazaar Voice. (n.d.). Social Commerce Statistics. Retrieved February 08, 2012, from Bazaar Voice’s website: http://www.bazaarvoice.com/resources/stats

Cross, Vanessa. (n.d.). What is Social Merchandising? Retrieved February 08, 2012, from Smallbusiness.chron.com: http://smallbusiness.chron.com/social-merchandising-20570.html.

Rueter, That. (2012, January). Why Google+ Just Became More Important to Retailers. Retrieved February 08, 2012, from Internet Retailer’s website: http://www.internetretailer.com/2012/01/16/why-google-just-become-more-important-retailers.