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This week's top 5 cultural insights and e-commerce trends: 08 May 2019

Business · 5 min read

AOB: 10 May 2019

This week, AOB brings you the latest on the disruptive technology that made its debut on the red carpet, how SMEs are inspiring the big players in the fashion industry, the importance of physical retail therapy and more. Read on to keep your business in the loop with the most recent e-commerce trends.

3D hits the runway

The week kicked off with the largest fashion fundraising event of the year – The Met Gala. Founded in 1948, this iconic event is filled with the most popular faces within the entertainment, music, art and fashion industries, who come together to raise money for The Met’s Costume Institute. While we've seen our fair share of revolutionary looks over the years, this instalment saw innovation hit the red carpet – as designer Zac Posen collaborated with GE Additive and Protolabs to create five custom outfits for guests at the gala using 3D-printing techniques. 

Jourdan Dunn, Nina Dobrev, Deepika Padukone, Katie Holmes and Julia Garner were styled in an array of 3D-printed pieces, including dresses, headpieces and accessories. From design to print the items took a total of 12 months to complete, so we're all wondering what Zac's got up his sleeve for next year. It's predicted that the 3D-printing market will reach US$23billion by 2022 – so there's no time to lose if you're looking to expand in this area. To read more about up and coming markets, trends and other disruptive technologies, have a read through our take on the future of logistics

Adidas sprints towards sustainability

Following the success of brands such as Wear the Walk and Higher Studio – who offer eco-friendly and re-usable solutions to the fashion industry – it’s no longer news that consumers are more conscious about what impact their buying decisions may have on the environment. And, due to the growth of this bottom-up approach, it seems as though bigger players are turning to SMEs for inspiration. With nearly 50% of people reporting that they’re willing to pay more for sustainable products, there’s no better time for brands to act on this growing customer value – and that’s exactly what Adidas has just done with the release of their Futurecraft Loop shoe. Made from Thermoplactic Polyurethane (TPU) – each shoe is designed to be re-used once it’s worn out. The TPU is created without adhesives or chemicals, minimizing material separation steps prior to recycling, and tackling plastic pollution by adopting a circular approach to the product’s life cycle.

For many businesses, brand belief is becoming a central factor in targeting strategies. Selfridges announced this week that they will be the first major UK retailer to make their own-brand foods free of palm oil – just one part of an environmentally-conscious, long-term strategy. Helping reduce the production of palm oil in countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia – where it’s the biggest driver of deforestation and wildlife extinction – they’re the latest brand to commit to a better way of doing things for the planet. As the global logistics leader, DHL are passionate about keeping the environment sustainable. Read more about our group-wide environmental protection program, GoGreen, to see how we changed our passion into action by taking the path towards zero emissions.

Sink your teeth into this…

Following the theme of sustainability and eco-consciousness, Burger King and Beyond Meat have revealed that their plant-based burgers are not eating into meat sales. Instead, they’re actually attracting new customers, as their meat-free alternatives are targeted at not vegans and vegetarians, but those of a meat-eating persuasion too. In June 2018, retail sales of plant-based meat alternatives rose 24% to US$670million – with meat sales rising just 2% in the same period. Responding to the rapidly-increasing demand for meat alternatives, there are suggestions that it is, in fact, omnivores who are behind these numbers. Beyond Meat have reported that 93% of buyers of its Beyond Burger in Kroger grocery stores in the first half of 2018 also bought animal protein during the same period.

Another company that’s taking plant-based products to the next level is Brazilian startup Fazenda Futuro – who are using AI to produce a healthy burger that imitates meat in every sense. With 30% of Brazilians interested in, or already reducing, their animal production consumption – and 76% reporting to have positive attitudes towards people who do – it’s a move that makes sense with the changing attitudes to meat alternatives. The company’s CEO, Marcus Leta, says that the company “want to show that it is possible to revolutionize the food industry without causing a negative impact on the environment” – and they’re not the only ones. Spotting hidden opportunities in potential threats to your business is crucial if you’re looking to grow, no matter what the risks may be. For tips on forging an intrepid mindset, check out our thinking adventurously article.

Bricks and Mortar outweighing e-commerce?

report from the International Council of Shopping Centers has this week revealed that Gen Zers prefer physical retail therapy to shopping online. With an estimated 95% of all Gen Z buyers visiting a shopping center within a three-month period in 2018, they came out on top of the pile across all generations. With the likes of LululemonMacy’s and Riley Rose aiming to offer more attractive in-store atmospheres, the ‘retail apocalypse’ is being staved off by brands harnessing the power of experiential retail. While online shopping is more convenient, 75% of Gen Zers agreed that shopping in physical stores provides the opportunity to socialize, as well as get their hands on the items and purchase without waiting for delivery.

Brands such as GapUnder Armour and Uniqlo have all started to offer phone charging services to attract the reported 91% of Gen Zers who like to compare deals on their phones, while some retailers are using IoT technology to enhance the shopping experience through data from smart, wi-fi connected devices. Data sources can include traffic counters, kiosks and even online customer platforms such as the NikePlus membership program. The data from this allowed Nike to record members' taste and exercise habits to curate stock at its Nike Live concept store in Los Angeles and offer them the best fitness advice. To read more on IoT and how it can help you to personalize the physical retail experience, click here.

Something we can all agree on

DHL, FedEx and UPS are pushing for governments to implement mandated blockchain standards for the international shipping industry. As part of the 500-strong Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA), it’s hoped the move will create a level playing field that benefits the entire industry, streamlining the international package business for everyone involved.

With industry leaders pushing for change to happen sooner rather than later, it’s hoped that over the next five years the technology can be rolled out worldwide – so shipping to each of the 220 countries and territories that DHL Express can reach will be even smoother for all involved. To find out more about the future of digital retail, download our free essential guide to blockchain.

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