The family behind one of Ontario’s oldest carpet retailers has launched a new store that takes a more contemporary approach to the flooring retail business.
Paul Hewitt, which specializes in nautical-themed watches and bracelets for both men and women, will now offer its products through the TheBay.com.
The accessories brand first arrived in Canada approximately a year ago, with distribution through a variety of small watch and jewellery retailers. The new partnership with one of Canada’s most prominent retailers is set to boost the brand’s visibility and sales considerably in the Canadian market.
Paul Hewitt was founded in Northern Germany in 2009, and the brand aims to reflect that region’s maritime flair through its styles. The company strives to produce timeless pieces that are handmade with high quality materials.
The accessories boast simple, minimalist designs, with a variety of colour and material options that allow shoppers to customize items to their individual tastes – a feature that has made the brand popular among millennial consumers.
Imagine having a personal shopper who can help you find exactly what you’re looking for without even needing you to describe what you want.
That’s the idea behind See It Buy It, a new app that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to help consumers find what they’re looking for amongst hundreds of thousands of fashion items.
The app aims to address a key problem: Although mobile technology holds significant e-commerce potential, the process of browsing through multiple websites on a small touch screen to find a specific style of dress or top is frustrating and time-consuming for shoppers.
As AI technology evolves, however, that process could get easier.
See It Buy It, for instance, simplifies the mobile shopping experience by embracing visual search capabilities.
Specifically, consumers can take a photo of something similar to what they’re looking for, and upload it into the app to see relevant matches from thousands of Shopify online merchants.
Alternatively, shoppers can paste a web link into the app to find items similar to something they’ve seen online.
Shoppers can also use an audio feature within the app to search for an item by verbally describing what they’re looking for, or search for items based on specific shades of colour.
Products can be filtered by factors such as price, colour, style and material, and as customers begin clicking on items they like, the app taps into AI technology to generate other similar results.
The app lets consumers explore merchandise from a wide range of retailers, ranging from small merchants to mainstream brands, and helps these companies get discovered.
See It Buy It, which was developed by U.S.-based data-science solutions provider nFlate Inc., is currently available in the Android app store in Canada and the U.S., and is set to launch for iOS this month.
One of North America’s major online footwear retailers is making the transition from e-commerce to bricks and mortar, with a new Toronto store that combines elements of online shopping and in-store browsing for a modern retail experience.
The move is, in part, a strategy to cater to shoppers who aren’t comfortable shopping online. A large proportion of consumers likely fall into that category when it comes to shopping for shoes, given that sizes tend to vary slightly between brands, and the opportunity to try them on can help shoppers avoid ending up with a pair that doesn’t fit quite right.
By incorporating online shopping stations right into the store, Shoes.com hopes to make new customers more comfortable with the online shopping experience.
The establishment of a physical retail presence also allows the company to develop a stronger connection with its existing customers, according to Jonathan Zhu, assistant store manager, who offered tours of the store during a media event this week.
“Being a really stable online retail space, we want to make that personal connection. We want our customers to see the people behind the shoes and behind the website, and this is our opportunity to do that,” Zhu says. “To be a part of the community is really important to us.”
The store is divided into three main sections:
1. the “Home Room”, at the front of the store, aims to reflect the home page of the Shoes.com website, showcasing a variety of different popular styles and brands;
2. the “Dressing Room”, in the middle of the store, is set up as a boutique that will put a spotlight on five to six specific brands;
3. the “Editor’s Room”, at the back of the store, aims to reflect the local community, showcasing merchandise from various designers and entrepreneurs from the city in which the store is located.
“More so than a corporate space, you’ll get the feeling of a boutique from us, and the fact that we’re really in tune with our community,” Zhu says.
Each store that the company opens will be unique, with the Editor’s Room being the key differentiating component. In the new Toronto store, for instance, the Editor’s Room will initially feature Toronto-based hat designer Jason Mitchell and his brand Coup de Tete, as well as Armed Jewelry, a local brand founded by designer Desiree Girlato.
“Every one of our stores is going to have a different vibe,” Zhu says. “There’s going to be different personalities from the community incorporated into the stores.”
The online shopping terminals will be available for customers to browse and order items not available in store, using the company’s new artificial intelligence-powered shopping tool, called Smart Shopper. The tool helps customers narrow down their search by learning their style preferences and displaying the merchandise that is most relevant to each individual.
Shoes.com plans to open a second store in Vancouver in September, with other locations likely to follow.
U.K.-based fashion brand Reiss has opened its second Toronto location at Sherway Gardens, and a recent ownership change for the chain suggests Canadians could soon see more Reiss stores across the country.
The upscale men’s and women’s clothing retailer, known for being a favourite brand of the Dutchess of Cambridge, made its Canadian debut in March with the opening of a store in the Toronto Eaton Centre.
The chain, founded by David Reiss in 1971, now has more than 160 locations in 15 countries.
In April, Reiss Holdings – the company that owns the retail chain – entered an agreement to sell a majority stake in the company to New York-based global private equity firm Warburg Pincus LLC.
That transaction positions Reiss for further international growth, particularly in North America, Asia and Australia, with a goal of building Reiss “into a truly global fashion brand,” David Reiss said in a statement about the deal.
That could mean the new Toronto stores are just the beginning of a broader Canadian presence for the fashion brand.
Reiss is celebrating the launch of the new Sherway Gardens store with an opening party on Thursday, May 12, co-hosted by The Kit, complete with treats and drinks, and a chance to win a $1,500 Reiss wardrobe.
European makeup brand essence has gained more shelf space in the Canadian retail market, thanks to a recent mega retail merger.
essence, which is owned by German cosmetics company Cosnova GmbH, is known for fun and affordable makeup products, with an average retail price of just $3.69.
The brand made its Canadian debut in 2012, under an exclusive distribution partnership with Shoppers Drug Mart. With the 2014 acquisition of Shoppers having brought the drug store chain under the ownership of Loblaw Companies Ltd., essence has now gained a massive new distribution network.
In addition to its presence within Shoppers Drug Mart and Pharmaprix stores, essence is gaining real estate this spring within certain Loblaws grocery stores.
Under the new distribution arrangement, designated Loblaws stores will carry twice as many essence products compared with the amount of essence merchandise available at Shoppers Drug Mart. Loblaws stores will also carry certain exclusive essence products that are not available anywhere else in the Canadian market.
The essence brand seems a good fit for Loblaws, where its in-house fashion and cosmetics brand, Joe Fresh, shares a similar philosophy of trendy items for affordable prices.
At a downtown Toronto event in late February, essence showcased its spring makeup collection, including certain Loblaws exclusives. The new collection features plenty of pastels and bright spring colours that are sure to attract shoppers as the products make their debut on the shelves of their new retail partner.