As one of 30 startups nominated for LVMH’s 2019 Innovation Award, Automat (www.automat.ai) was invited to pitch our company and present our products in LVMH’s VivaTech Pavillion. Being chosen as a nominee from more than 900 applicants was an honor, but the event itself was also an incredible experience. On the opening day I was fortunate enough to briefly meet Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, pitch to Bernard Arnault, the CEO of LVMH and showcase the results we’ve had working with L’Oréal to their CEO Jean Paul Agon. As a result of being side-by-side with the other 29 startups who participated, we also had a ringside seat to the most important digital innovations coming to the luxury industry. We wanted to share what we learned so read on to hear our assessment of how technology is going to change not only luxury but retail of all kinds in the years ahead!
LVMH’s Innovation Award started as a way to recognize leading startups and drive open innovation. This year’s award brought together amazing talent across areas like supply chain management, augmented reality, ecommerce, chatbots and more around the theme of “Crafting the Customer Experience of Tomorrow”. I found that being an Innovation Award nominee gave us instant validation with the very senior decision-makers who visited our booth, bypassing the usual song and dance that comes with large tradeshows where standing out can be difficult.
The LVMH team, including Hélène Freyss, Juliette Geffrault, Olivier Le Garlantezec and Pierre-Henri Kuhn, were not only really great people, but also provided an incredible level of support to all the startups who were selected. They ensured that we met top executives from many LVMH “maisons” and non-LVMH companies alike. Ian Rogers has truly transformed digital innovation at LVMH in his brief time as Chief Digital Officer, and his background as a serial entrepreneur has ensured that the LVMH Innovation Awards truly provide value to the startups that participate (not always a given with startup programs of this ilk). This was by far the most successful event we’ve ever attended so I highly recommend any startup founders that read this apply for the 2020 award!
In addition to meeting literally hundreds of potential customers, another side benefit of being under the LVMH Pavilion at Vivatech was that we had an insider’s view about the types of innovations that are going to change the luxury customer experience. We saw how autonomous supply chains will satisfy customers more efficiently than ever before, where consumers can access experiences digitally that were once only available in-store, and how brands will connect with consumers wherever and whenever they need them.
The Autonomous Supply Chain
Luxury customers have high expectations. These are usually met or exceeded by amazing in-store experiences. However, in an on-demand and digital world, brands need to find more ways to exceed expectations both in and out of stores. Innovating the supply chain is an essential first-step to meeting these expectations. Without more responsiveness in how products are sourced and delivered, brands won’t be able to actually satisfy customer expectations online or at the point-of-sale.
Among the nominees for LVMH’s Innovation Award, we saw major breakthroughs in how brands could infuse the responsiveness they need throughout their entire supply chain. Brands can use Qloo to analyze and anticipate trends based on media and entertainment content to tell them what types of products they should make and sell. Inline Digital allows brands to manage wholesale catalogues, appointments and orders, getting products through the distribution process in a faster and easier way. Once stores are stocked, brands can use Nextail to shift inventory from store to store and make sure the location consumers walk into has the product they want. To give consumers more transparency, brands can use EVRYTHNG (a fellow You & Mr Jones company) to show the product’s origin and source of its materials.
Using these solutions, brands can build a supply chain that anticipates and responds to what customers want. An autonomous supply chain means that brands will soon be able to instantly fulfill every customer order, making things cheaper and more efficient without compromising their customer’s high expectations.
Augmented Reality Shopping
People are making less and less of their decisions in stores, and yet the things we like about in-store experiences have never truly been recreated online. After VivaTech, it’s clear that this long overdue change might have finally arrived.
Brands can partner with Slyce to let consumers find products using image recognition from real-world photos that they take. Allure Systems lets consumers see stock photos that represent their body type without requiring a brand to do expensive custom photoshoots. 3DLOOK (this year’s winner) lets a consumer take two photos of themselves and instantly get their best fit when shopping online. Wannaby lets consumers try on sneakers just by taking photos of their feet.
With AR technology the luxury consumer isn’t required to leave their consideration and purchase decisions to whenever they happen to be close to a store. They’re busy and their time is scarce and can now try on products and get accurate sizing without ever having to go to a store!
Seamless Connection with Consumers
The world’s best brands will fulfill a customers needs, whatever those needs are and wherever that customer goes. The thing that makes them comfortable with finally making a purchase, however, is a relationship with a brand that gives them confidence in the choices they make.
So, when a consumer does walk into a store, a brand can use Octipas to make sure representatives know everything about them and offer them relevant advice. If they don’t speak the same language, Timekettle lets the consumer get real-time translation to make the experience they’re having as familiar and comfortable as possible. With Care OS, a brand can communicate with me via my bathroom mirror, helping guide my beauty routine. With Digital Genius, if there’s a problem after all that, a brand can automate their customer service to answer that need as well.
And what about if I’m shopping online, but no one is there to help me? That’s where Automat comes in. Automat allows brands to offer virtual sales advisors that chat with customers via digital ads or ecommerce websites to understand their needs and guide them to the products they want. Using the latest in Conversational AI technology, we help brands drive higher engagement, customer satisfaction and revenue than their current digital marketing and ecommerce solutions, increasing purchase confidence by expertly personalizing the experience for customers – the way an in-store sales advisor always has.
If there’s anything to takeaway, it’s this: LVMH’s Innovation Award is an incredible experience for any startup, if you haven’t already participated, it’s definitely worth continuing to apply until you get in (third time was the charm for us 👍). VivaTech is an incredible show that deserves its reputation among the world’s best technology events. And when it comes to the customer experience, the future is something wholly more personal, responsive and satisfying than even the most discerning of luxury customers could imagine.
One more thing from Ian Rogers CDO of LVMH
There was one more thing that made the experience extra special for us. The Pavilion booth that we were stationed at was shared with two other companies that provide conversational AI: Digital Genius, who specializes in customer service automation, and Chattermill, who focus on consumer feedback analytics. During the awards ceremony, Ian Rogers noted to the audience: “For those of you who were at Viva Tech three years ago, you know that that was the year of the chatbot. This year, we have a few companies at the pavilion showing how the potential of chatbots is finally being realized.”
Obviously given what we do at Automat we found this very gratifying, but we were also very encouraged by the fact that Ian and leaders like him are beginning to understand that conversational AI solutions for customer service, analytics, marketing and ecommerce all have very different technology requirements. It’s taken a while, but it’s exciting to see the market start to realize the unique value each of these use cases has to offer – whether its helping create awareness and drive engagement or converting engaged customers and supporting them after they buy.
“For those of you who were at Viva Tech three years ago, you know that that was the year of the chatbot. This year, we have a few companies at the pavilion showing how the potential of chatbots is finally being realized.” – Ian Rogers, Chief Digital Officer at LVMH
Finally, I want to once again reiterate our heartfelt thanks to the amazing LVMH team including Hélène Freyss, Juliette Geffrault, Olivier Le Garlantezec and Pierre-Henri Kuhn for your amazing hospitality during the show. This is one of the best organized events we’ve ever attended, and we were super impressed with everyone’s genuine desire to see the startups benefit from their participation. Merci!
If you’re interested in learning more about our solutions or what we pitched during the Innovation Award, contact Automat to learn more!