ECOMMERCE

Specialty menswear retailer is introducing a new stylist — her name is Alexa

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

A new Alexa skill is helping Perry Ellis’ customers dress for any occasion.

The menswear brand is assisting its shoppers with the “Ask Perry Ellis” Amazon Alexa skill. Called the first-of-its-kind, voice-activated skill, the technology supports a modern, frictionless shopping experience that enables customers to use their voice to find the right look, and shop for merchandise.

By saying, “Alexa, Ask Perry Ellis what I should wear to &hellip,” the device searches approximately 150 programmed occasions, taking into account the venue, weather and dress code. Alexa then replies with an appropriate look. Selections are sent to the user’s Alexa app and email, where they can click through to PerryEllis.com to add items to their cart to purchase.

To access the Alexa personal stylist, shoppers simple enable the “Ask Perry Ellis” skill on their Alexa-enabled device.

The voice-activated skill is helping the brand speak directly to the end consumer, and evolve its marketing strategy and consumer engagement, the retailer said.

“We are always looking for ways to meet the fashion and performance needs of our customers, and evolve the way we engage them with our brand,” says Oscar Feldenkreis, CEO and president of Perry Ellis International. “We are confident our Alexa personal stylist will appeal to our tech-savvy consumer by using voice activation to address a real need men have when it comes to dressing and enabling a seamless shopping experience.”

The solution solves a pain point for Perry Ellis’ customer base, as nearly three-quarters (73%) of men admitted to having arrived at an event, occasion or location feeling inappropriately dressed, according to “Men’s Dressing Habits,” a survey conducted by Perry Ellis.

In fact, 84% of men care about being dressed appropriately for an occasion. They don’t want to stand out, and hate the feeling of being underdressed (the most common reason they feel they’re dressed inappropriately).

One-third of men admitted to having skipped an event because they didn’t have the right clothes to wear. But when dressed appropriately, 72% of men report feeling confident, 42% feel attractive, 39% feel respected and about one-quarter of men feel powerful.

To see Alexa in action, click here.

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CVS Pharmacy, New York City

BY CSA STAFF

CVS Pharmacy has brought its new store format to Times Square in Manhattan, opening a two-level, 13,000-sq.-ft. flagship with an expanded focus on beauty and health throughout the space.

On the health side, the store features a walk-in MinuteClinic that provides a wide array of prevention and wellness service, and also an Optical Center that offers comprehensive eye exams, diagnosis and treatment of eye disease, along with contact lens fittings and prescriptions.

The elevated beauty focus includes a “Trend Wall” that highlights new launches and niche brands, and the Beauty on the Go fixtures highlight on-the-go options at checkout. An in-store pop-up, called K-Beauty, is dedicated to the fast-growing Korean beauty products category and has over 500 items. It’s curated by Korean beauty expert Alicia Yoon of Peach &amp Lily.

The new CVS store features “Discovery Zones” that let shoppers browse an assortment of products across such themes as healthy eating on the go, advanced skin care, sleep and mood, and connected health among others.

The location also showcases the retailer’s recent better-for-you food efforts, including various healthy eating “Trend Zone” displays that include paleo, raw and vegan snacks.

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ECOMMERCE

Home furnishings giant enters ‘gig economy’ with acquisition

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Ikea Group has entered the booming market for on-demand services.

The home furnishings giant is acquiring TaskRabbit, an on-demand services platform company that connects customers with workers, called "taskers," that handle everyday needs such as furniture assembly, moving and packing, general handyman repairs, and home improvements. The price of the transaction was not revealed.

Based in San Francisco, TaskRabbit will operate as an independent company within the Ikea Group. It will also continue to partner with other retailers and commercial partners.

Founded in 2008, TaskRabbit is regarded as one of the pioneers of the "gig economy." Over 60,000 independent workers use its platform.

For Ikea, the acquisition enables the company to give its customers online access to “freelancers” skilled in furniture assembly, moving and packing, general handyman work, and home improvements, among other services. Equally important, it bolsters the retailer's defenses against Amazon, which debuted its own marketplace of service providers, Amazon Home Services, in 2015.

The deal, which is expected to close in October, stems from a pilot Ikea and TaskRabbit launched in November 2016. Through the partnership, Ikea offered furniture-assembly services by TaskRabbit’s workers to its customers.

“In a fast changing retail environment, we continuously strive to develop new and improved products and services to make our customers’ lives a little bit easier,” said Jesper Brodin, president and CEO of Ikea Group. “Entering the on-demand, sharing economy enables us to support that. We will be able to learn from TaskRabbit’s digital expertise, while also providing Ikea customers additional ways to access flexible and affordable service solutions.”

Ikea owns and operates 357 stores in 29 countries, an e-commerce business. TaskRabbit has a presence in 40 cities around the United States and in London.

"With Ikea Group ownership, TaskRabbit could realize even greater opportunities increasing earning potential of Taskers and connecting consumers to a wide range of affordable services," said Stacy Brown-Philpot, TaskRabbit CEO.

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