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Ant Financials, joining FABERNOVEL’s Learning Expeditions

Proud to be warmly welcomed by Ant Financial this week in Shanghai.

With USD 150 billion, Ant is the largest unicorn in the world and now worth more than Goldman Sachs and Barclays combined. Alipay, its payment arm, is running in 27 currencies throughout 200 countries and serving over 60 million stores worldwide.

To date, the company served 42 billion insurance policies and its mutual fund open platform became in less than 3 years the largest in the world. Moving as a tech company, 65% of its 10,000 employees are IT engineer profiles, the AI team itself accounting for 600 persons.

Definitively a very impressive company to work with!

 

Event Recap: Virtual Reality for Brands

On Thursday April 21, 2016, VELVET organized the event Virtual Reality for Brands, featuring Crow’s Nest, a leading virtual reality content producer. The event was attended by members of the French Chamber of Culture and Industry, China (CCIFC).

Speakers for the event included VELVET CEO and Founder Patrice Nordey, Crow’s Nest Founder Eloi Gerard, Crow’s Nest Co-Founder Robert Ellis, Youku Business Development Director Jim Lerch, and Thomas Cook Business Development Associate Director, Solene Anglaret.

Guest tests out VR headset and demo.

Guest tests out VR headset and demo.

According to Gerard, humans have been projecting the self into reality since they started creating art. Virtual reality as we know it is the product of the convergence of smart phones and the internet. 2016 also marks the first year that affordable devices will be available to the masses—some could say it is Year One for Virtual reality.

Gerard went on to explain the difference between virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality. The virtual reality experience is one of being submersed in an entirely different environment while augment reality involves placing virtual elements directly into real space. Mixed reality is where the virtual continuum extends from reality to augmented reality and augmented virtuality.

In terms of how brands use virtual reality, the popular options include events, cardboard (an inexpensive version of a headset made of cardboard), and in-store devices. Popular industries that use VR include travel, real estate, auto, and retail.

Eloi Gerard of Crow's Nest.

Eloi Gerard of Crow’s Nest.

Case Studies:

Automotive – PSA

The French car manufacturer commissioned Crow’s Nest to create a corporate video that contained scenes from the board room, test lab, and inside a car. The video was published to WeChat.

Retail – Metro

For its 20-year anniversary, the German supermarket commissioned Crow’s Nest to create a video that featured a host walking through a market to showcase the layout, products, and overall consumer experience.

Travel – Thomas Cook

The pioneering British travel agency decided to take advantage of the natural synergy between virtual reality and showcasing travel offerings. For the China market, it hired Crow’s Nest to produce a video that told the story of a Chinese couple’s holiday in Thailand.

As for the distribution model, it is easier in Europe because there are over a thousand retail locations and it is easy to distribute cardboards in store. In New York, sales increased by 300% after the introduction of virtual reality content. However, it’s hard to say for China, since the company started with virtual reality here, according to Business Development Associate Director, Solene Anglaret. In China, the company often distributes cardboards at Chinese partner company Fosun corporate events. The next step would be distribution at airports, sent to homes, and so forth.

Solene Anglaret of Thomas Cook.

Solene Anglaret of Thomas Cook.

Regarding whether virtual reality will replace real holidays, Anglaret seemed doubtful, saying that while she could imagine someone who wanted a quick pick-me-up by watching a travel VR video, for the most part, VR will aid in the decision making process.

What’s next in VR?

Youku Business Development Director Jim Lerch spoke about the potential for VRC (the virtual reality commercial), as well as branded entertainment and VR games. Youku (the “Youtube of China”) recently launched the 360 VR channel. Within Youku, there is a dedicatd APP. It is currently building out its VR product offering. Youku’s approach is content-driven, unlike competitor Tencent, which is more hardware driven.

VR content marketing is in its early stages. So what is the future of branded entertainment? One idea is doing original content teasers in VR, such as an extended movie trailer. Rather than a passive experience, it has the potential to be like a choose your own adventure.

VR e-commerce is another interesting prospect. Consumers will be able to experience a lifestyle and shop direct.

Jim Lerch of Youku.

Jim Lerch of Youku.

Of the four major players in the VR industry in China, Alibaba is the only one that is focused on content. The other three are closed ecosystems, similar to Facebook: Tencent (building out ecosystem with a headset and leveraging its user base), Baidu and LeEco.

But the industry is moving quick—Huawei also announced a headset.

Examples of VR for social media include meeting friends on the moon or having a meeting with your boss and coworkers who are all avatars.

Basically, VR is like the new internet and everyone wants to be Google and the challenge moving forward is about moving beyond the gimmick to create something sustainable, with longevity, Gerard concluded.

Get in touch to learn more about how to incorporate virtual reality into your marketing strategy.

Partnered Event – Selling online on China’s E-Commerce Platform in Shanghai on March 25-26th

E-Commerce in China

VELVET will partner with CCIFC for the exclusive “Selling Online on China’s E-Commerce Platforms” on March 25-26th in Shanghai. Dedicated to French companies thrilling to enter the Chinese E-Commerce market to sell products online, the French Chamber of Commerce has tailored an exclusive seminar to understand the E-Commerce market opportunities and meet experts in this field.

China’s market overview:

  • With more than 600 million netcitizens and 250 million online shoppers, China is the biggest e-Commerce market worldwide
  • 75% of Chinese shoppers buy at least once per week
  • In 2012, the overall of online sales reached more than 152 billion euros representing a YoY of 66,5%

Meet the two Leading Players on China’s E-Commerce Market Tmall – with more than 50% of E-Commerce market share – and JingDong – with more than 20% of market share ; as well as agencies expert in the field. VELVET will be pleased to be part of this value added training and be ready to answer questions or interrogations on evolving e-commerce market.

Save the date & Request more details here!

Date: March 25-26th, 2014
Location: Shanghai
Duration: 2 day
Price: 15 900 RMB

China Digital Roundup | Google Glass, eBay’s Online Mall, WeChat, Alibaba

A roundup on how digital is transforming our life and business – both in China and the rest of the world through January 24th.

L'Oreal Matrix Google Glass

L’Oreal’s Matrix Offers Stylist’s-Eye View with Google Glass

By BrandChannel

Google Glass may still be a novelty of sorts for just about everyone outside its “Explorer” program, but that’s not stopping global beauty brand L’Oreal from incorporating the futuristic specs into its personal care brands. According to Retailing Today, L’Oréal subsidiary Matrix is using Google Glass to help teach hairstylists how to do better work. Called “Matrix Class for Glass,” the initiative will include blogger video series, a salon professional education platform, and an app that “will house an exclusive library of content that can be downloaded by consumers and professionals.”

 

eBay said to open online mall to lure fancy brands

By CNET

Word has it that eBay has plans to open an online marketplace that caters to various brands, according to The Wall Street Journal. Rather than using the eBay moniker, this site is said to be called “The Plaza.” On “The Plaza,” it’s said that brands will be able to sell directly to consumers — just like with eBay — but won’t have to be listed next to second-hand items or possible knock-offs. It said that with the rumored online mall, merchants could sell their goods through eBay but not have “to worry about weakening their brand.”

 

Next WeChat 5.2 update show LinkedIn integration and a makeover for Android

By Tech In Asia

China’s most popular messaging app and social network WeChat’s upcoming version 5.2 update will likely come with LinkedIn integration and a new interface for Android users, according to Pingwest. The following screenshots come from a private beta version, so the updates aren’t final, yet. This is a major move early in LinkedIn’s official Chinese career, especially since it doesn’t even have a Chinese-language site yet. LinkedIn first revealed it had plans to officially expand to China last week when the professional networking site announced it hired a new president for LinkedIn China in the form of Derek Shen. Company shares rose strongly on the news.

 

Alibaba on Tour: the China’s Tech Giant draws a crowd in Amazon and Microsoft land

By GeekWire

Alibaba may not be a household name in the United States yet, but the company is a giant in China — with a dominant e-commerce platform, growing cloud computing system, smartphone operating system and even a finance business. It’s sometimes described as Amazon, PayPal and eBay combined, with a bit of Google thrown in for good measure. And the company is widely expected to make a headline-grabbing IPO this year. So we jumped at the opportunity to sit down with Wang Jian, Alibaba’s chief technology officer, as part of a visit by some of the company’s top executives to the Seattle region this week.

 

Asians spend 257% more on brands they follow online

By Red Luxury

A new study from Waggener Edstrom Communications found that Asian consumers spend up to 257 percent more on brands they follow online. “This study shows that in 2014 digital-driven brand storytelling is central to successful communications. Consumers want to be engaged by brands online,” said Matthew Lackie, Senior Vice President at Waggener Edstrom. “We are seeing that B2B and B2C companies will be rewarded in 2014 with larger spends, engagement rates, and higher levels of brand advocacy when they provide their audiences with great content.”

China Digital Roundup I Apple, Tmall, Fan BingBing, LightInTheBox

A roundup on how digital is transforming our life and business – both in China and the rest of the world through January 10th.

Apple aims for more Chinese customers with a new e-store on Alibaba’s Tmall, by Tech in Asia

Apple Store tmall Premium Brand

Apple has opened an official web store on Tmall, Alibaba’s “online mall” for brands and big-name merchants, reports the Wall Street Journal. Accessible at apple.tmall.com, the new online storefront marks Apple’s first foray into setting up an e-store outside of its online Apple Store.

What’s the significance here? For one thing, it’s a sign that Apple is directly utilizing yet another sales channel through which it can reach Chinese consumers. Last December it finalized a massive deal with domestic telco China Mobile, and it will cut the ribbon at a shiny new Apple Store in Beijing today.

 

Fan Bingbing’s potent ‘Star Effect’ worth $74 million on Taobao, by JingDaily

Fan Bingbing Taobao iron man

Brands such as Louis Vuitton, Chopard, Cartier, Mercedes-Benz, Adidas, Moët & Chandon, and L’Oreal knew what they were doing when they hired actress Fan Bingbing (范冰冰) as their celebrity brand ambassador: a report last month by online retail giant Alibaba’s Taobao revealed that the Iron Man 3 star has generated US$74 million (RMB450 million) in e-commerce revenue.

Showing that “star effect” is actually quantifiable, the e-tailer released its list of the most lucrative brand ambassadors generating income for the site in 2013. According to the report, Fan easily topped the charts. The ranking was calculated by taking into account the name keyword searches that brought in the most revenue, along with the total sales revenue of each brand with a celebrity ambassador, according to Taobao. Unsurprisingly, her largest influence was in the areas of women’s dresses, handbags, high heels, and sunglasses.

 

Try on virtual makeup and pay with your hand with Retail Tech at CES 2014, by Brand Channel

ModiFace Makeup Mirror

Traditionally the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is an event that offers a glimpse of the future in technology from a consumer perspective. CES 2014 is no different—but it wasn’t just a glitzy keynote by Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer that was creating buzz. Also on display were several technological innovations that suggest a whole new retail world is right around the corner.

The latest innovations are: “3D Augmented Reality Makeup and Anti-Aging Beauty Mirror” by ModiFace, The Biometric Scanner by PulseWallet, the virtual currency BitCoin and the tracking technology iBeacon by Apple. This is just the beginning of a brave new retail world—and consumers have yet to weigh in on just how much technology they want to help them shop.

 

China’s LightInTheBox acquires Ador, the Seattle-based social commerce site, by Tech in Asia

Ader LightInTheBox social ecommerce

LightInTheBox, the China-based e-commerce and sourcing company, has acquired Ador, the Seattle-based social e-commerce startup, for an undisclosed sum. The Lockerz team then launched Ador last April as a site where users could follow celebrities and models, track what they wear, and then purchase goods from retailers that provide Ador with a cut.

The acquisition is quite an interesting one. Ador appears to be in a state of constant transition, and a relationship with LightInTheBox – which, as a business and a brand, is pretty far from a sexy social e-commerce firm – will likely bring about further changes in its business model. Meanwhile, LightInTheBox can leverage Ador’s expertise in social and its existing partnerships with US retailers to move beyond its reputation as a seller of high-quality, inexpensive Chinese goods. In addition, the Ador team’s experience at Amazon will bring along knowledge and industry connections.

 

China Luxury Trends for 2014, by Red Luxury

China Luxury trends

China is a country in constant change. The rate of change related to anything China has been phenomenal, presenting both challenges and opportunities for luxury companies who want to part of this promising market.

Despite a much-reported growth ‘slowdown’ and political upheavals, China’s growth will continue. We expect Chinese luxury consumers’ desire for less conspicuous consumption and unique experiential pursuits to gain further momentum this year. Other trends to watch in 2014 include:

E-Commerce/M-Commerce Becoming the Norm – Lower Tiered Cities Become Major Battlefield – Research & Purchase Model Is Here to Stay – Growth of “Lifestyle” Brands – Shift from Rapid Store Expansion to Improve Store Productivity – Second Hand Luxury Boom – China to Become Greener.

China Digital Roundup I Mark & Spencer, Tiffany, Instagram, Alibaba

A roundup on how digital is transforming our life and business – both in China and the rest of the world through December 19th.

Mark & Spencer embraces new shopping technology, by Fashion United

Mark & Spencer Technogy store

Retailers including John Lewis and Marks & Spencer are embracing new technology, including mobile point-of-sale tablets, Google mapping and enhanced self-service terminals in a bid to make shopping even more convenient for its customers.

Department store John Lewis is trialling mobile point-of-sale over the Christmas period in three stores, Cheadle, Brent Cross and Peter Jones, as it embraces its use of shopping technology. Each store will use transactional tablets that allow customers to skip the queues at till banks and make their purchases directly with the member of staff on the shop floor who advised them.

Each tablet will be fully linked to the shop’s till systems, allowing customers to fully complete their purchase in the shop or arrange home delivery, in a development that the retailer states is a UK first. In addition to offering payment assistance the tablets will also give shoppers and the assistants access to a range of product information including customer ratings and reviews on johnlewis.com. Initially, the tablets will be trialled in a number of departments including technology and white goods.

 

Tiffany debuts Tiffany Diamond in Beijing with original music score, by Luxury Daily

Diamond Beijing Tiffany & Cie

Jeweler Tiffany & Co. employed Chinese composer Tan Dun to create a piece that sets the tone for the brand among affluent consumers.

Mr. Dun’s composition was inspired by the jeweler’s Tiffany Diamond, a 128-karat yellow diamond that made its debut in China early in December. Tapping a local, yet world-renowned, musician will help Tiffany appeal to affluent Chinese consumers with a penchant for modern classical music.

“This composition by Mr. Dun creates excellent content for Tiffany to use in various forms of social and digital media to reach a large audience of followers and to attract new followers in China,” said Ron Kurtz, president of the American Affluence Research Center, Atlanta.

 

Hong Kong’s Luxury IFC Mall to Launch E-Commerce Site, by Red Luxury

IFC Mall China

Retail has been forever changed by e-commerce and a more connected consumer. In a nod to a growing trend that merges online and offline channels, Hong Kong’s IFC shopping mall is going online, the first time for a Hong Kong mall operator.

IFC Mall will launch an e-commerce website that allows shoppers to access products offered by its luxury brand tenants.

“The internet is changing the way in which people live, and we now have to run a business in ways that we never imagined before,” said a source. “It will not create direct competition with tenants, but help to reach out to more potential customers.”

 

What Instagram Direct Means for Fashion Brands, by Fashionista

Instagram Direct Feature

On Thursday, Instagram unveiled Instagram Direct, a new feature that allows users to message photos and videos to up to 15 of their friends at a time, rather than all of their followers.

It’s like Snapchat, but with a richer featureset: Images and videos don’t disappear seconds after viewing them, and you and your friends can have private conversations about the messages you send to each other in a comments section.

By limiting messages to 15 people at a time, the opportunity Instagram Direct offers for fashion brands and retailers — which generally want to reach as large an audience as possible — may not be obvious.

 

What Chinese Shopped on Alibaba Marketplaces in 2013, by Technode

alibaba online platform

The ever-growing online shopping market in China helped transactions on the past Nov 11th, the annual online shopping day created by Alibaba, reach a record high.

Nearly 6,000 people in wealthy areas of China spent more than RMB 1 million (about $164,000) each on Taobao platforms in 2013, as buying cars, land-use rights, expensive vacations on Taobao became available in the year.

Alibaba released a report on Alibaba Group’s Taobao Marketplace, Tmall and group-buying service Juhuasuan this year.

China Digital Roundup I Valentino, Luxury E-Commerce, Apple, Alibaba 11/11, Vancl

A roundup on how digital is transforming our life and business – both in China and the rest of the world through November 15th.

Valentino Targets Global Audience by Live-Streaming Shanghai Collection, from Luxury Daily

VALENTINO Fashion Show

Italian fashion house Valentino is taking an unconventional approach to promote the opening of its new store location in Shanghai by unveiling an exclusive collection Nov. 15 that will be available at this location months before it hits the shelves in other stores.

The Maison’s creative directors, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, designed the Shanghai collection that will premiere Nov. 14 on the Bund and via a live-stream on its Web site. By live-streaming the show, Valentino is giving consumers around the world the opportunity to participate in the opening of its newest flagship even though they cannot be there in person.

 

5 Tips for Luxury E-Commerce Success, from Jing Daily

5Lux example eshop

Luxury is set to take up a significant part of the online retail pie, with an estimation to be worth $27 billion by the end of this year. However, China’s e-tail landscape has proven especially tricky for luxury brands. Despite the significant profits to be made, Macy’s put its China e-commerce plans on hold in October of this year, which followed a decision by Neiman Marcus to downscale its China e-commerce operations several months ago.

These instances likely reflect the fact that luxury e-commerce faces many challenges in China, including logistical issues that harm quality of service, customer concerns about fakes, and fear of online fraud. However, the business climate may be improving: a recent survey of Chinese luxury customers by Ruder Finn and IPSOS found that 36 % of respondents prefer to shop for luxury goods online, a 22 % increase from 2012.

 

Apple is about to crash the party, claims L2 founder, from Luxury Daily

Apple Luxury orientations

L2′s founder predicted that technology giant Apple will be venturing into luxury categories in the near future to capitalize on enormous profit margins and its pristine brand image at the L2 Forum 2013. L2 Think Tank boss Scott Galloway pointed out that Apple’s acquisition of CEOs from Burberry and Saint Laurent indicates that the brand is forcefully moving toward the luxury sector. The founder also warned that luxury brands will begin to face increasing disruption from outsiders.

“Apple is about to crash the party,” Mr. Galloway said. “Why wouldn’t [Apple] migrate to [luxury]? The move gives consumers a chance to express their affinity for Apple with something other than [technology],” he said. “Luxury is on the verge of a massive disruption by competitors.”

 

$5.7 billion spent in 24 hours on ‘Cyber Monday’ Alibaba, from Tech In Asia

Alibaba Tmall

China’s 11/11 online shopfest – the country’s equivalent of America’s Cyber Monday – has just finished. It’s been a record-smashing mega-sale on hundreds of e-stores. Here at Alibaba HQ, the makers of China’s top online marketplaces are celebrating the biggest-ever shopping day: a grand total of $5.7 billion (RMB 35.02 billion) spent in the course of just 24 hours.

(Update: Total unique visitors on Tmall on this 11/11 hit 402 million, up from 213 million on the same day last year). The sales on Alibaba’s Tmall involved over 20,000 merchants on its online marketplace. That massive $5.7 billion figure counts only Tmall and Taobao customers who paid via the company’s own Alipay (like Paypal), so the total spending amount will be higher once all payment methods are totaled up. The most popular store on Tmall all day was the official shop of Xiaomi, China’s upstart phone-maker.

 

Chinese clothing e-tailer Vancl gets $100 million funding, from Tech In Asia

Vancl eshop

Chinese clothing e-tailer Vancl, which sells Muji/Uniqlo-esque cheap yet funky clothing on the web, has wrapped up its seventh round of venture capital funding. The newest tranche is worth $100 million, Vancl vice president Xu Xiaohui revealed to China’s Economic Observer newspaper. No further details were given.

Vancl – which also has an open marketplace for clothing-related merchants called V+ – is still dogged by rumors of financial problems. Vancl has raised over $400 million in its previous rounds from the likes of IDG Capital, but the e-store spent 2012 shedding thousands of jobs, and earlier this year restructured its business divisions as it seeks to remain agile amidst ever stronger e-commerce competition in China.

China Digital Roundup I The Left Shoe Company, Tmall, Cartier, Le Printemps

A roundup on how digital is transforming our life and business – both in China and the rest of the world through November 12th.

The Left Shoe Company: Old Craftsmanship and New Tech, from Business Of Fashion

Left Shoe Company Scan

The London outpost of Finnish upstart The Left Shoe Company is located in a jewel-sized store in Princes Arcade, a covered shopping arcade that runs between Piccadilly and Jermyn Street in one of the British capital’s smartest shopping districts, known for its men’s shoe and shirtmakers.

At the store, customers can order made-to-measure shoes, selecting from six different sole options and 20 different upper variations, available in a wide range of colors and materials, from leather and suede sourced from Italy to exotic skins like stingray and alligator, sourced from Taiwan and Paraguay, respectively. The shoes are designed by Maurizio Mazzucato, who works with some of Italy’s largest fashion houses.

 

Alibaba’s Tmall Sees $500 Million spent in First 20 Minutes, from Tech In Asia

Tmall Singles Days

It has just turned November 11 in China, commencing the nation’s craziest day of online shopping discounts and spending. It’s called 11/11. At Alibaba HQ, China’s top e-commerce company is watching its consumers spending in real-time in what I like to call its ‘big data’ war-room. Alibaba’s Tmall, its open marketplace for merchants, saw $177 million spent in the first six minutes. That leapt to $266 million (RMB 1.64 billion) after the first ten minutes, and then to very near $500 million (RMB $3.021 billion) at the 20-minute mark. (UPDATE: After the first 50 minutes, $1 billion has been spent).

In the hour before midnight, Alibaba representatives said that six million people had put items in their virtual baskets, awaiting the start of 11/11 and for the discounts to become active. More than 20,000 merchants on the Tmall online marketplace – from small businesses to major brands like Uniqlo – are taking part in the sales day.

 

How to Set up a Fashion Business from Scratch via e-Commerce, from Business Of Fashion

eCommerce Fashion Brands

It’s no secret that the web has become one of the most effective tools for fashion brands to market and sell their wares. According to market research firm Emarketer, online sales of apparel and accessories are now growing faster than any other e-commerce product segment (20 percent per year).

By 2016, the category will account for $73 billion worth of online purchases in the US alone, just over 20 % of all online retail sales. And while young fashion brands will always need to maintain offline touch points where customers can touch, feel and try on product, seizing the e-commerce opportunity is equally crucial to long-term success.

 

Cartier CEO Stresses Importance of Carefully Curated Digital Presence, from Luxury Daily

Cartier - YouTube

The North America chief of French jeweler Cartier at the L2 Forum 2013 said that while the brand is investing heavily in digital media, the house proceeds with caution when applying a new social media tactic, keeping in mind the brand image and long legacy.

While other brands jumped on Facebook and began posting a lot of content, Cartier decided to test the waters first, only posting one item a month out of worries that fans would tire of seeing multiple posts from them. During the “A Conversation with Prestige CEOs” session the Cartier executive said that the jewelry brand has since raised the frequency of its social media postings, but still keeps a tight hold on its presence online.

 

Printemps Sets E-commerce Strategy, from WWD

Le Printemps Paris

Absent from e-commerce until now, Printemps said it hopes to generate at least 10 % of its sales from the channel within three to four years.
“We believe the French market is at a tipping point,” Printemps chairman and CEO Paolo de Cesare said. “Customers want to have an experience online, and in a physical store.”

Last month, Printemps acquired French fashion e-commerce site Place des Tendances from media firm TF1 Group, and de Cesare said it would be its main vehicle in the online world.