Year in review: Charged Retail’s biggest features of 2022

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2022 marked another significant year for the retail tech industry, from the ecommerce boom and the rise (and flop?) of the metaverse, through to the latest developments in cutting-edge in-store technology.

Over the last 12 months Charged Retail has tracked key developments across the sector, exploring these core topics in more detail to get behind the scenes and find out what the future holds.

Here are our top 10 most read features of the year:

1. Hermes rebrand: will it be Evri-thing they hope for?

Back in March, Hermes announced it was rebranding as ‘Evri’ with a new logo and identity.

Charged asked if the rebrand could transform the public perception of one of Britain’s largest and best-known couriers.

Rocked by numerous public scandals in recent years, industry experts were divided on whether the new branding would have an impact.

“On their own, a new logo and a lick of paint aren’t enough to fix a damaged reputation,” Fifty2M managing director Lee Petts said.

“A brand is about more than just a visual identity, it’s a projection of your values as an organisation. For Evri to cast off the shadow of its Hermes past, it needs to show consumers that it’s changed culturally and can be trusted to be better, not just tell them.”

2. Why Amazon Fresh is a ‘solution to a problem that doesn’t exist’

Last year Amazon rolled out 17 Amazon Fresh stores in London, all utilising the company’s infamous Just Walk Out technology.

However, in 2022 the ecommerce giant walked away from plans for dozens of potential sites after disappointing sales figures amid the cost of living crisis, leading Charged to investigate why Amazon made this decision and what the future holds for its grocery business.

At the time, retail expert and consultant Ged Futter commented: “Amazon Fresh and the Just Walk Out technology is basically a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.”

“When it comes down to bricks and mortar, these technology-based stores are not the future – they’re too expensive to get set up.”

3. The top 5 high fashion brands entering the metaverse

This year, high fashion brands have funnelled millions into the metaverse, with Morgan Stanley predicting predicted that the virtual world could present a $50 billion-plus opportunity for the luxury fashion industry over the next decade.

Luxury fashion brands have been tapping into this tech renaissance, creating digital garments solely for our virtual identities.

The metaverse also created new opportunities for brands to engage with a younger generation, with Gen Z the key demographic driving and influencing digital fashion.

From Burberry and Gucci to Ralph Lauren, Charged broke down the key brands entering this new, virtual space to explore the potential and benefits.

4. 4 stand-out examples of innovative in-store tech

Over the past year, the retail industry has seen a clear shift away from bricks-and-mortar stores towards online shopping.

In a world of constant digital transformation, consumers are becoming more confident and technically savvy. In order to stay relevant, bricks-and-mortar stores must satisfy their shoppers by providing new and creative in-store experiences.

From Uniqlo, Crew Clothing and Cos, Charged lists some notable recent examples of innovative in-store technology attracting customers, with examples including self-checkouts, mobile tablets, electronic shelf labels, smart fitting rooms and more.

5. Meet Mira: a soulless M&S misstep or virtual muse?

Back in November, M&S became the first UK high street retailer to launch its own virtual influencer called Mira, a controversial move that prompted social media backlash from many of the retailer’s core consumer base.

One user said: “I find it beyond insulting and depressing, and it only confirms what many of us have suspected for a while – you either have no idea who your customer base really is, or you’re choosing to deliberately ignore it.”

After the news broke, Charged dug a little deeper, asking industry experts why Mira had received such criticism and if she would have benefitted from a more thoughtful and strategic launch.

Influencer marketing specialist Jo Burford commented: “I love the M&S brand; it feels like home to me. I wouldn’t invite Mira into my home, she has no soul. It’s not the feeling of warmth I look for in the M&S brand.”

6. The rise and fall of Asos: Has fast fashion lost its appeal?

In early 2021, the mood in the Asos camp would have been nothing less than jubilant. The online fast-fashion giant was absolutely cruising through the pandemic, largely at the expense of struggling bricks-and-mortar retailers.

However, 2022 saw global supply chain issues, rising inflation and the invasion of Ukraine heap pressure on the online fashion retailer.

In October, Asos announced an expansive cost-cutting plan, alongside a pre-tax loss of £32 million.

Charged investigated why the company had such a fall from grace and what the future may hold for the wider fast fashion industry.

7. Deliveroo X Klarna: The story behind the ‘eat now, pay later’ backlash

This October, eyebrows were raised when food delivery company Deliveroo announced its partnership with buy now pay later (BNPL) company Klarna.

The move – which allows customers to spread the cost of their takeaway across three installments – came under harsh criticism from many across the sector, ultimately blasting both companies for the controversial partnership.

Money Saving Expert founder Martin Lewis also joined those expressing concern, commenting: “Dear Deliveroo, do you really need pump debt as a way to pay for takeaways? Buy Now Pay Later may seem innocuous but it is 1) Not yet regulated 2) Debt, even if done right its 0%.”

“Borrowing should only be if NEEDED, for planned one off budgeted purchase, not a cheeky Nando’s.”

Charged weighed up both sides of the argument, speaking to experts across finance and quick commerce, to make sense of the deal.

8. Missguided: What went wrong for the fast fashion giant? 

In May, administrators were called in for Missguided after the fast fashion retailer failed to finalise a rescue deal.

The news put over 300 jobs at risk, with over 80 employees rumoured to have been let go immediately, and leaving hundreds of orders unfulfilled.

Teneo Financial Advisory were tasked with handling the process after suppliers, who claimed to have not been paid in months by the retailer, issued it with a winding up petition in early May. Some are owed up to £2 million.

Charged took a deeper look at why Missguided slipped down the pecking order while its fast fashion rivals continued to thrive.

9. How Shopify is moving closer to bricks-and-mortar retail

At the beginning of the year, leaked documents revealed that Shopify had filed a patent for a system of sensors that can measure traffic in retail stores.

The application was further evidence that the company had ambitions to go head-to-head with ecommerce giant Amazon, which has expanded its bricks-and-mortar footprint exponentially over the past two years.

“From the perspective of a merchant that is interested in purchasing (or leasing) display space in a retail store, not all regions of the retail store are equally desirable,” the patent application reads.

While Shopify is primarily recognised as being an ecommerce platform, Charged investigated whether changes at platform signalled a potential expansion into offering an omnichannel experience.

10. Roksanda’s CEO Jamie Gill explains why digital dresses are the future

Back in March, luxury fashion house Roksanda collaborated with Clearpay, London Fashion Week’s principal sponsor, to launch a shoppable NFT of the brand’s demi-couture final look.

Charged attended the unveiling of the NFT at London Fashion Week and spoke with Roksanda’s CEO Jamie Gill about why he had decided to experiment with the metaverse and launch the digital dress.

Gill explained: “As a brand, we’re learning and making sense of how the digital world and metaverse works.”

“Having to create a crypto wallet and buy a cryptocurrency was quite confusing, so we wanted to make it easier – you just come to Roksanda.com and here is your selection of NFTs.”

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