Yoox Net-a-Porter has unveiled its new tech hub in West London, giving a tailor-made home to its myriad technological projects.
The 70,000 sq ft space will bring its 500 UK tech staff under one roof, where they’ll be joined by 100 new staff over the next two years.
The luxury retailer’s chief executive, Federico Marchetti, billed it as an investment in post-Brexit London and the UK’s tech industry.
Retail Week looks at five ways the etailer is transforming retail’s tech landscape.
Many retailers talk about being mobile-first, but YNAP is taking that one step further to become mobile only within its tech hub.
The business is investing heavily to make sure it is set up to deal with changing consumer behaviour.
Every one of its 3,200 employees will be given an iPhone preloaded with the retailer’s multiple apps during the next eight weeks, which they’ll be asked to use in both their work and personal lives.
YNAP hopes that by switching from working on desktops and laptops to iPhones, their staff will be better placed to serve a customer base for which mobile is the first port of call for shopping.
Fusing human instinct with machine intelligence
A large part of YNAP’s USP is its army of personal shoppers, who cater to very high-value customers. Artificial intelligence could be seen as a threat to that skillset, but YNAP is attempting to combine the two.
It is using AI to create a virtual personal stylist, which learns what types of product go together to create outfits suited to certain customers and analyses external data such as weather and a customer’s calendar.
Usually this type of AI-driven service uses past purchase history to suggest future buys, but YNAP will layer personal shopper recommendations on top of previous purchase data to create “a more sophisticated degree of personalisation”.
For example, if a customer asks the virtual personal stylist to search for an outfit for a party at Kensington Roof Gardens on July 2, it will analyse the local weather to provide suitable options.
Betting on QR
The popularity of QR codes has waned in recent years. Users previously had to download and open a separate app anytime they wanted to use or scan a QR code, rather negating the point of the time-saving technology.
But YNAP is betting that Apple’s decision to integrate QR technology into its iPhone cameras from this autumn (via iOS 11) will change all that.
YNAP, which operates third party websites for brands including Armani, Moncler and Jimmy Choo as well as its own platforms, is betting that potential customers will scan physical QR codes in stores to access the designer websites that it runs.
YNAP is zeroing in on the 2% of its customers who account for 40% of its revenue. It is these customers on whom the business is focusing innovation.
One such project is its ‘You try, we wait’ service, exclusively for its EIP (extremely important person).
From this September, EIPs will be able to request the premium service via their personal shoppers for same-day orders.
A delivery person will wait while the customer tries on various items, so that they are able to return any unwanted items immediately and seamlessly.
Apple’s decision to open its message function to third-party developers has allowed YNAP to fully integrate its personal shopping service into iMessage, meaning that its personal shoppers can communicate as effortlessly as possible with its EIPs.
Product images from the app can be shared back and forth between a personal shopper and EIPs while they communicate within the iPhone message function.