Adidas Pops Up With DIY Design

Reuters: “Adidas has been testing a store where shoppers can design a sweater, have a body scan to determine fit and get it knitted by a state-of-the-art machine within hours, as the German company looks at ways to respond more quickly to customer demands … At a pop-up Adidas store in a mall in Berlin, customers designed their own merino wool sweaters for 200 euros ($215) each and then had them knitted in the store, finished by hand, washed and dried, all within four hours.”

“Shoppers first entered a darkened room where swirling camouflage and spider web patterns were projected onto their chests, with options to shift the light using hand gestures picked up by sensors, like in an interactive video game. Dozens of possible options were recorded and the customers picked their favorite ones on a computer screen, where they could also experiment with different color combinations. Customers chose standard sizes or stripped down to their underwear for laser body scans. Then the personalized pattern was sent to an industrial knitting machines in the store.”

“Adidas wants 50 percent of its products to be made in a faster time frame by 2020, double the rate in 2016, which it expects will increase the proportion of products sold at full price to 70 percent from less than half now.”

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Cava Mezze & The ROI of ‘Experience’

Fast Company: Cava Mezze, a chain of 24 Mediterranean restaurants, is using “a system of sensors … to monitor everything from customer wait times to food-safety practices … to boost Cava’s ROI of experience.” Chief data scientist Josh Patchus “trains motion sensors (stationed in select restaurants) on customers as they’re waiting to order. What he found: Lines tend to bunch up near the menu board and while people are selecting ingredients at the serving station … Rather than limit customers’ options, he redesigned the menu boards so that customers know what to expect when they reach the serving station. The change has helped lines move 10% faster and hold 12% more people.”

“Sensors in the restaurants’ seating areas show that customers in urban locations often stay only long enough to eat, but in the suburbs they prefer to linger … Patchus suggested increasing seating at the suburban outposts by 30%, allowing them to accommodate large groups. Those parties boosted revenue in the redesigned stores by 20% per square foot … Patchus uses the sensors to monitor back-of-house operations. Walk-in refrigerators can now tell managers how long they’ve been left open, and if there have been any temperature or humidity spikes … food-quality complaints from customers have dropped 28%.”

“If the cash register is too close to the serving station, customers have to shout their choices, and it can be hard for them to hear the server’s response. Sensors track decibel levels in the ordering area; if they’re high, Patchus suggests a remodel.” Patchus comments: “To understand our customers, we have to be around our customers.”

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4 Ways Ulta Changed Its Retail Experience

Fast Company: “Ulta’s engaging in-store experience helped boost company revenue by more than 20% last year. Here are four ways the company changed its retail formula.”

1) “Recognizing that salon guests spend almost three times as much as other customers, Dillon moved the Benefit Brow Bar, a station for eyebrow shaping, to the front of some stores so that shoppers see services when they enter. Salon sales were up 15% in the first nine months of 2016.” 2) “In a bid to lure shoppers into stores, Ulta offers samples for a wide range of products, inviting people to try on not just prestige makeup lines such as Estée Lauder and Nars, but also drugstore brands including Maybelline and CoverGirl.”

3) “Many of the electronics the store sells, such as the new Dyson Supersonic hair dryer, are plugged in to encourage play.” 4) “As they browse the store’s seemingly unlimited supply of eye shadows, lotions, and nail polishes, shoppers can use the Ulta app to scan any product’s bar code. From there, they can read customer reviews, see similar merchandise, and save items as favorites.”

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Polaroid Swing: The Hogwarts of Photographs

The Guardian: “The Silicon Valley startup Polaroid Swing will this week offer more than 200 photographers equipment, exhibition space and possible commissions in its new artist support programme … The company, which launched its Polaroid Swing app last summer, has taken the name and spirit of Polaroid and repackaged it into a new enterprise with a mission, it says, to create a ‘living photograph,’ a step toward something you might see in the Harry Potter movies.” Co founder Tommy Stadlen explains: “Photographs should be alive. Every photograph in the digital world and eventually in the physical world, why can’t you move it? Why can’t you have the composition of a still and be able to see it move?”

“The concept is based on humans seeing the world in ‘short moments, not photos or videos,’ he said. So with a Swing photo you will see the wave crash or the eye blink. The motion is triggered by dragging your mouse pointer across the image, or your finger across it in the case of a touchscreen … The idea is that applicants will use the Polaroid Swing app to take pictures which they then submit through social media. The best submissions will be whittled down to a shortlist judged by a diverse panel which will include the photographer Paolo Roversi, the Tate chairman, Lord Browne, and the supermodel Natalia Vodianova.”

“Around 100 people in the UK, 100 in the US and more around the world will then be invited on to the programme which will mean getting a free iPhone, being part of digital and physical exhibitions and having the possibility of brand commission work … Stadlen said they were new and different, and that the company’s ambitions were not restricted to the digital world. It eventually hopes to create hardware that allows moving photographs in the physical world.”

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‘Amateur’ Drinkers Favor ‘Fake’ Wine

The New York Times: “The gap between fine wine and commercial wine is shrinking as producers use chemical shortcuts not only to avoid blatant flaws, but also to mimic high-end bottles. They can replicate the effects of oak for a fraction of the price of real barrels, correct for inferior climates and keep quality high in crummy vintages.” Wine critic Jancis Robinson comments: “It is one of the ironies of the wine market today that just as the price differential between cheapest and most expensive bottles is greater than ever before, the difference in quality between these two extremes is probably narrower than it has ever been.”

“In 2007, it was the rare mass-market bottle that could meet the minimum score that Tragon, a market research firm, considered necessary for a product to be viable. In tasting panels, drinkers choked down these wines, assigning them the same low ratings as spinach and peas. Now panelists routinely award these bottles the same top scores as high-end ice cream.”

“Research shows that experts and consumers disagree on what makes for a delicious bottle. A study published in the journal Food Quality and Preference, for example, gave amateur and trained tasters 27 wines to rate, and determined that the ‘liking patterns’ of consumers are in some instances exactly ‘opposite to experts’ quality perceptions’ … There is an irony to oenophiles’ definition of quality: What they deem “bad” wine is really wine that tastes good, at least to large numbers of drinkers … At the very least, these mass-market bottles are an invitation to people who might otherwise never pick up a glass.”

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Delta & Alessia & Why Coach Class Sucks

Wired: “Delta’s clever new wine glass belongs to an extensive new line of dishes, cutlery, glassware, ceramics, and other serviceware designed in collaboration with Alessi. The collection, which is gorgeous, will appear in the airline’s premium cabins beginning April 1. That’s great news if you can afford it. But even if you can’t, Alessi’s brilliant designs say a lot about the state of the airline industry—including why your experience at the back of the plane kind of sucks.”

“Why invest in a fancy new line of serviceware that most of your customers will never use?Simple: Airlines make more money off the premium cabins than the cheap seats. The business of flying is the difference between Revenue per Available Seat Mile—RASM—and Cost per Available Seat Mile, or CASM.” Aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia explains: “RASM in the front, CASM in the back. Basically, if your CASM is higher than your RASM you lose. Vice versa, you survive. You can even make money.”

In other words: “You maximize RASM on the seats at the front of the plane, so the blankets in first class feel like blankets; cut CASM in economy, where the blankets feel like something you peeled off a dryer’s lint screen.”

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Monarch Airlines: It’s Cool To Be Kind

Quartz: “British budget carrier Monarch Airlines is offering free perks, like early boarding or seats with extra legroom, to travelers who are ‘nice’ to its call center staff. The incentives don’t cost the airline much. Early boarding on Monarch costs £5 ($6) and an extra legroom can cost around £10 ($12).”

“Even if you played well with others at school, don’t get your hopes up for that upgrade. The airline will only offer these politeness perks on a maximum of 10 bookings a week and only if the traveler rings the call center. So it’s tough luck for those who are left to resort to contacting the airline on Twitter because no one is answering.”

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Mobile Orders Create ‘Invisible Queues’

Quartz: As more people have turned to mobile ordering, they’ve created a second, invisible line. And when chains such as Starbucks and Chipotle don’t have enough extra employees to handle those orders, customers who expected to cut the line wind up waiting in the store anyway … To fix this” Starbucks will “be adding new ‘roles and resources,’ including sending customers a text message when their orders are ready so that customers aren’t left to wait in the store, in the second line, frustrated and under-caffeinated.”

“This isn’t a problem unique to Starbucks. At Chipotle, some customers had a wait time that averaged as much as 30 minutes to fulfill an online order. That led the company to create in-kitchen teams to work fill online orders, and gave consumers estimated wait times based on the how busy individual stores are at the time of order. As a result, wait times were cut in half.”

“At Panera, another popular US chain, adding the mobile ordering service was more than just creating an app for consumers’ phones. The chain reexamined its entire workflow, which led to redesigned kitchens and changing the assembly line to complement the new technology.”

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Nike Zoom Vaporfly: An Unfair Footwear Advantage?

The New York Times: A new Nike shoe design, Zoom Vaporfly, has “produced fast times and impressive results in international races. But they have also spurred yet another debate about the advance of technology and the gray area where innovation meets extremely vague rules about what is considered unfair performance enhancement for the feet. Where to draw the line of permissible assistance?”

“The shoes weigh about 6.5 ounces and feature a thick but lightweight midsole that is said to return 13 percent more energy than more conventional foam midsoles. Some runners have said the shoes reduce fatigue in their legs. Embedded in the length of the midsole is a thin, stiff carbon-fiber plate that is scooped like a spoon. Imagined another way, it is somewhat curved like a blade. The plate is designed to reduce the amount of oxygen needed to run at a fast pace. It stores and releases energy with each stride and is meant to act as a kind of slingshot, or catapult, to propel runners forward.”

“Nike says that the carbon-fiber plate saves 4 percent of the energy needed to run at a given speed when compared with another of its popular racing shoes … In truth, some experts said, debate about Nike’s latest shoes may only help increase sales to joggers and four-hour marathoners. A less expensive model than the Olympic shoe, with similar technology, goes on sale in June for $150.” Bret Schoolmeester of Nike comments: “To me, it’s kind of a compliment when you are delivering a big enough benefit that people are starting to ask, is this unfair? We don’t believe it is, but that’s pretty flattering.”

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JetBlue’s ‘Mint’ Does Not Cost One

The Wall Street Journal: “A lie-flat bed on a long flight used to be the ultimate perk, something fliers would pay up for. Now it’s a discount luxury.A new kind of business class has been pioneered by JetBlue’s Mint cabin on transcontinental routes … The affordable upgrade has been so popular, formerly all-coach JetBlue is now flying Mint seats from Boston and New York to the Caribbean as well as Los Angeles and San Francisco. It’s also announced expansion to San Diego, Seattle, Las Vegas and Fort Lauderdale.”

“This is not aviation’s version of a knockoff handbag. With Mint, the prices are lower but the recline remains fully flat, the pillows and duvets still soft. Service may lack some frills, but the airline still offers amenity kits with eyeshades and lemon towelettes … What’s most prized among savvy fliers are the Mint suites. On each side of the A321, JetBlue puts two seats in a row, then a row behind with just a single seat on each side. When seats fold down, the legs of the single passenger are tucked between the two passengers in front. The single passenger has a sliding door, creating an enclosed suite. The four suites cost the same as the 12 other business-class seats and usually get booked first.”

JetBlue EVP Marty St. George comments: “The biggest complaint is the single seat sells so fast.” Meanwhile, Mint’s success has forced other airlines to lower their business-class fares.

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